One of the perks of becoming a lawyer is a nice payday with the prospect of increased earning potential. This is for several reasons. Becoming a lawyer takes years of study and is a highly skilled profession. For some people, the best or worst days of their lives will happen in a courtroom, and the outcome will depend on the lawyer they hired.
While this is a high paying and powerful job, it takes a lot to get there. More than just studying and time, it takes a good amount of money. Even before you get to the expense of law school, you'll have to take the LSAT. The test itself is relatively affordable, but when you add up how much it costs for study programs to get yourself prepared, it can all add up quite quickly.
What Are the LSAT Fees?
To take the LSAT once, you'll have to pay $200. To some people, this will seem quite reasonable, but for others, it could seem like a whole lot. That's why LSAC (the Law School Admission Council) offers fee waivers to students who are in "extreme need" of financial assistance. They also offer waivers for when you sign up for the CAS (Credential Assembly Service), which is a requirement for applying to most law schools in the United States. The fee for signing up for CAS is an additional $195.
There are other fees to take into account. Students who live over 100 miles away from a published testing site and are unable to travel there can apply to have the LSAC set up a nonpublished test center. This isn't cheap. To set up a domestic nonpublished test center costs an additional $295. Those who are taking the test internationally will have to pay $390.
The CAS, or Credential Assembly Service, is used by most law schools for application purposes. This is another fee that comes with the LSAT, as you will most likely sign up for this when setting up your official LSAT test date. CAS helps students streamline the application process. Instead of sending paperwork to each individual school applied to, CAS gathers all of your relevant information and sends it to your chosen schools when you apply. This means that students only have to get all of their paperwork in order once before applying, relieving a huge amount of stress when it comes to trying to get into law school.
Of course, this will come with a cost. The registration for CAS is $195, but there are additional fees for whenever a student sends a CAS report. The CAS report is made up of your LSAT score or scores plus all of your undergrad information. Each individual report costs $45 and it doesn't necessarily cover the cost of the application fee to each specific law school.
Some students will be eligible for fee waivers. LSAC created a program to make sure that students who were in "extreme need" of financial assistance wouldn't be precluded from law school just because of their financial situation. Students who apply for a fee waiver should still expect to pay full fees because fee waivers are not easy to get. Students who would rather not pay the fees but are able to will most likely not receive a fee waiver.
Those who do receive a fee waiver can take the LSAT twice within a year, have free CAS registration, and can send three free CAS reports to law schools.
Students may still take the LSAT if they have applied for a fee waiver but have not yet heard back from LSAC by the time their test date rolls around. If this is the case, LSAT test scores will be withheld until it is determined that the student in question did or did not qualify for a fee waiver. If a student is qualified, they will have access to their scores plus CAS registration and reports. If a student does not qualify, they will have to pay the CAS and LSAT registration fees before their test scores are made available to them.
Those who choose to apply for fee waivers will need all of their financial documents in order within 45 days of applying for financial assistance. This includes all tax documents or reasons why you have not had to file taxes.
If you feel you are entitled to a waiver, you can find out more about the process on the LSAC site.
Additional LSAT Fees
Even for the most organized individual, sometimes we let things slip. This can be true for something as important as the LSAT as well. If you accidentally missed the registration date, there is no need to fret unduly. By paying an additional fee, you can still sign up for the LSAT.
This is typically expensive, though not as expensive as the LSAT. Late fees differ from state to state. Some states have a rigid late registration date, while other states might offer two or three late registration dates, with the fee going up for each.
Those who need to change their location for whatever reason will also face additional fees. The cost of changing location to take you LSAT is an extra $125. This is also true for students who need to change the date of their test, which also costs $125.
Those who wish to take the LSAT again can do so for the full price of the LSAT. Some students will want to take the LSAT again without the essay portion of the exam. This is because the essay portion of the exam does not affect your overall score, but it must have been completed once. When retaking the LSAT, you can choose to use the writing sample from your first attempt. To take the writing again during your retake costs $40. So, students who want to retake the LSAT without the writing section will have to pay $160 instead of $200. Students who qualify for the fee waiver will have the written part included and can choose to retake the exam with or without the written section.
How Much Does LSAT Preparation Cost?
Preparing for the LSAT can actually be much more expensive than the LSAT itself. While LSAT fees can add up quickly to a significant sum, an LSAT prep course can cost upwards of $2,000. Those who decide to get a private tutor can wind up paying much more.
Typically, online classes are the least expensive route for a student who wants to do a full study course. These offer course instruction plus and plenty of materials at a fraction of the cost of an in-person LSAT class. The reason for the lower cost is because they don't require a venue or the presence of an instructor. However, there are live online courses that are done over webcam, which can cost as much as an in-person class.
In-person classes are generally held at universities or in downtown conference rooms. You'll generally only find these in big cities, or cities where a major university is located. Aside from having a personal tutor, these are the most expensive options for LSAT prep.
Some state schools offer free LSAT prep. There are also online resources that are either free or very inexpensive that can be helpful. These are great options for those who don't want to or can't pay for an LSAT prep course, but they are not as immersive or substantial.
One of the most important parts of LSAT prep is taking one or many mock LSATs. These can be found for free online. Those with a tablet will get an authentic experience, as the LSAT is now conducted 100% digitally.
Overall Costs of Taking the LSAT
As you can see, taking the LSAT can be an expensive endeavor. When you consider CAS registration and the LSAT fee alone is $395, it's easy to see how quickly it can add up. The prep courses can put you in the thousands, and it doesn't end there. Each CAS report you send will cost $45.
There is a reason the process is made so difficult. LSAC wants to make sure that the people entering the world of law are committed to the process. Lawyers are deeply important to the fabric of our society, and the process to become one would not be taken lightly. And, while it might seem like a lot of money upfront, the earning potential down the road makes it all worth it.
Here is the list of costs for the LSAT exam:
- LSAT registration: $200
- CAS registration: $195
- Domestic nonpublished test center (for those over 100 miles away from a testing site): $295
- International nonpublished center: $390
- Test date change: $125
- Test center change: $125
- CAS report: $45 per individual report
Spend Money to Make Money
Education is expensive. A career in law is no different. The additional hurdles beyond a degree that are required to enter this profession invariably mean higher associated costs too. However, the end result is worth it, with a stable, exciting, and financially rewarding career. With a bit of investment and a lot of work, a law career is within your grasp.