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How To Pay for Graduate School

How To Pay for Graduate School

The other day a reader e-mailed and said he needed some help. I always tell you all that I welcome your e-mails all the time, so if you have a question that you would like me or my readers to answer, then go on and ask. If you don’t know the answer or want more opinions, I’m sure that there are plenty of other people who are wondering the exact same thing.

This reader e-mailed me after (what I’m assuming) reading my numerous posts about how I want my student loans gone. I do talk about it in nearly every post as it CONSUMES my life it seems like. I graduated with approximately $38,000 in student loan debt… This does include two undergraduate degrees and my Finance MBA though.

Here is the e-mail that I received: 

“Son wants to go to law school in about 6 months.  Spouse and I have put him through undergrad debt-free (along with a number of perks – studying abroad, travelling abroad, car, insurance etc). 

Law school is outrageously expensive and even with his scholarships he’s going to be paying out of pocket $30-$40,000/ year.  They max out your Stafford loans for law school at $20,500 so just exactly where do we makeup that additional $10-$20,000 a year? 

We could (and may) tap our retirement funds – and take the hit on that tax wise and penalty-wise, but I am NOT under any circumstances taking out a parent plus loan.”


My Thoughts

Let me start out with saying that my student loans seem to be a big subject that many readers e-mail me about. Some people graduated with a lot of student loan debt, and some graduated with absolutely none. I didn’t have anyone help me with tuition, having a place to live, food to eat or any other expenses while in college.

So, I think it’s great that this reader and spouse were able to put him through undergraduate school debt-free. If you can truly afford it, then why not? However, I don’t know how I feel about tapping into retirement funds to help with law school. And I think it’s a great idea that they will not take out a parent plus loan.


Here is what I replied to them with:

“This is tough. Law school is definitely expensive. There are always private loans that you could look for. The interest rate isn’t always horrible and sometimes they have lower interest rates than federal loans. I only know this because I took out 1 private student loan and its interest rate is below 5% (I think it’s 4.7% to be exact). This rate is actually below almost all of my federal student loans. Most people are against private student loans, but if the interest rate is low and the person is adamant about attending a high priced school, then there aren’t many options.

Has he looked around at several schools to see which one is the best value? He can also try asking the school if there are any additional scholarships and grants that he can qualify for.

He should also see if there are any work-study options at his school. I’m not sure if in law school you can do that, but you never know.”



Now before a ton of you start throwing sticks and stones at me, realize that I DO know a lot of you will hate me for suggesting private student loans. The interest rate is most likely variable with private student loans, but like I said, there are not many options. If his son is determined to attend law school, then it will be expensive.

He can get private student loans, save up before he attends law school, work while he attends law school (and possibly find a company that will pay for at least part of his schooling), ask for a larger financial aid and scholarship package and also look for work study options.

I’m sure there are more options, so let us know in the comments below! We are very interested in learning how to come up with this extra money in law school expenses each year.

I did find some articles that are about paying for your law school education:

  1. 5 Steps to Getting More Money From Your Graduate School
  2. 5 Ways to Reduce Law School Expenses
  3. Paying for Law School FAQs – This is from a university’s website, but I thought the information was good and it looks like it can apply to numerous schools.


How did you pay for school? How much student loan debt do you have?

How do you think his son should come up with the $10,000 to $20,000 per year?


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