Anyone who is even thinking about applying to law school will discover it’s not cheap. And we’re not talking tuition. Application fees, LSAT fees, LSAC Credential Assembly Service (CAS) fees are a strain for most student budgets.
The costs for applying to law school add up quickly. First, there is the cost for each administration of the LSAT, which currently rings in at $139.
Second, application fees for individual law schools can run anywhere from $70 to $100 and, if you apply to several schools, . . . cha-ching!
Third, the LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service fee is $124. This fee covers the following:
- transcript summarization (as well as authentication and evaluation of academic records for internationally educated JD applicants, if applicable);
- creation of your law school report;
- letter of recommendation and evaluation processing; and
- electronic application processing for all ABA-approved law schools.
Don’t be discouraged from applying if these costs are beyond your budget; there’s a few strategies that can help reduce costs. To start, some law schools send out fee waivers by email or snail mail to potential applicants, some have their own special applications for them (available online) and some you just need to ask and they will waive the fee. Some law schools offer fee waivers based on financial need, and some offer fee waivers based on impressive LSAT scores. So you should ask once you’ve received your score within a month after the June administration. Check the website of the school you are applying to and take advantage of this if you qualify.
That’s the advice our student guest, Aminta Kilawan, a 2L at Fordham Law School gave in our recent podcast, Planning Your Law School Application Timeline: What to Do & When to Do It. Kilawan had a couple of tips that could help you save money when applying. “Sometimes, there are fee waivers. So, what you could do is ask your prelaw adviser who would have more information about this, whether or not the school offers fee waiver. I received a few of these based on my LSAT score. Some schools sent me fee waivers, which meant that I did not have to pay the application fee. They just wanted me to apply, and so oftentimes that’s the case. Other times, you can request that from the school if you are really in a bind and need to save money – that you can ask the school if they would be willing to waive the application fee which is not cheap. It’s $70 generally per school which adds up, ultimately. And, if you can find a way to get out of the application fee that would be helpful to buffer the cost, so it would be helpful to reach out to the school and find out if they offer fee waivers, what their requirements are. Maybe, sometimes, there are salary requirements or things like that, but oftentimes, they would be willing if you reach out them. So, a simple question can never hurt.”
The LSAC also offers fee waivers for the LSAT and for the Credential Assembly Service (CAS). LSAC established the fee waiver program in 1968 “to assure that no person is denied access to law school because of the absolute inability to pay for the LSAT and other essential applicant services.”
An approved LSAC fee waiver is good for two years and entitles the recipient to:
- two LSATs (test dates must fall within the two-year waiver period);
- one registration for LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS), which includes the Letter of Recommendation Service, the LSAC Evaluation Service, and access to electronic applications for all LSAC-member law schools;
- four law school reports included with the Credential Assembly Service, available only after final approval of an LSAC fee waiver;
- one copy of the Official LSAT SuperPrep®.
So, if you are suffering from a case of “fee fatigue,” check out whether there might be a waiver available and get right on it. It might just save you some money before you go to law school!