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Years Compared: 2011 to 2017

Law School Costs

The table and chart below compare the school-set budget for law students at ABA-approved law schools for the fall and spring semesters between 2011-2012 and 2017-2018. National averages for law school living expenses would not be helpful, in part because cost of living varies wildly by region, state, city, and zip code. However, keep in mind that CPI-U inflation in the United States between 2011 and 2017 was +8.8%.

While tuition exceeding inflation between these years is unfortunate, a host of factors stemming from law school business models explain the tuition increases well. A change to the cost of living budget in far excess of inflation, however, is more difficult to explain. For the schools that saw a marked increase in the cost of living above CPI-U, local real estate likely played some role, but it cannot explain all or even most of the increase. Perhaps the balance of the increase can be explained by students demanding larger budgets to meet lifestyle expectations. For the schools that saw a marked decline in the cost of living, it is possible that these schools wanted their students to borrow less, wanted it to appear that attending law school was less expensive than it was, and/or thought the borrowing limits were too high in the first place. It is also possible that the school did not want the total cost of attendance to exceed a certain figure for marketing purposes, but the school still wanted to increase nominal tuition.

Tip On the left panelAt the top of the page, you can change the data scope to compare living expenses over a different time period.

City State Cost of LivingFall 2017 to Spring 2018 Cost of LivingFall 2011 to Spring 2012
BudgetΔ Budget
Valparaiso University Valparaiso Indiana $15,950+25% $12,760
University of Montana Missoula Montana $15,874+23.6% $12,840
Duquesne University Pittsburgh Pennsylvania $15,814+16.6% $13,560
Capital University Columbus Ohio $18,172+31.8% $13,785
University of Nebraska Lincoln Nebraska $17,942+29.5% $13,858
University of South Dakota Vermillion South Dakota $15,404+10.8% $13,900
University of Minnesota Minneapolis Minnesota $18,004+26.4% $14,244
Gonzaga University Spokane Washington $18,624+29.6% $14,365
Texas Tech University Lubbock Texas $16,059+11.7% $14,372
University of New Mexico Albuquerque New Mexico $16,150+12% $14,418
University of Oregon Eugene Oregon $16,002+10.7% $14,460
Southern Illinois University Carbondale Illinois $18,851+29.6% $14,546
Thomas M Cooley Law School Lansing Michigan $17,714+20.6% $14,686
University of North Dakota Grand Forks North Dakota $16,576+12.8% $14,700
West Virginia University Morgantown West Virginia $15,290+3.1% $14,831
University of Connecticut Hartford Connecticut $18,986+26.2% $15,050
Georgia State University Atlanta Georgia $16,730+11.1% $15,061
University of Wyoming Laramie Wyoming $12,581-16.8% $15,127
University of Puerto Rico San Juan Puerto Rico $19,306+27.4% $15,155
University of Memphis Memphis Tennessee $17,735+16.7% $15,195
St. Mary's University San Antonio Texas $20,684+34.1% $15,424
Michigan State University East Lansing Michigan $18,204+17.9% $15,437
University of Hawaii Honolulu Hawaii $21,077+36.1% $15,485
University of Kentucky Lexington Kentucky $16,700+6.4% $15,694
University of Texas Austin Texas $20,579+31.1% $15,702
CUNY Flushing New York $20,379+29.4% $15,743
University of Florida Gainesville Florida $18,340+16.4% $15,750
University of Richmond Richmond Virginia $16,890+7% $15,780
William and Mary Williamsburg Virginia $18,700+18.4% $15,800
Texas A&M Fort Worth Texas $29,214+84.2% $15,858
University of Akron Akron Ohio $22,199+38.4% $16,034
Northern Kentucky University Highland Heights Kentucky $15,878-1.1% $16,052
University of Houston Houston Texas $16,584+2.9% $16,122
University of Arkansas - Little Rock Little Rock Arkansas $15,604-3.8% $16,217
University of Idaho Moscow Idaho $10,188-37.6% $16,340
University of Dayton Dayton Ohio $17,500+6.1% $16,500
University of Georgia Athens Georgia $17,636+6.8% $16,520
University of Alabama Tuscaloosa Alabama $18,254+10.5% $16,522
University of Missouri - Columbia Columbia Missouri $19,610+18.5% $16,542
University of Illinois Champaign Illinois $18,600+11.9% $16,618
University of Maine Portland Maine $14,774-11.1% $16,622
University of Iowa Iowa City Iowa $17,760+6.8% $16,633
University of Denver Denver Colorado $18,683+11.8% $16,707
Willamette University Salem Oregon $19,672+17.5% $16,740
Ohio Northern University Ada Ohio $16,002-4.5% $16,748
Creighton University Omaha Nebraska $16,955+1.2% $16,755
University of Arkansas - Fayetteville Fayetteville Arkansas $16,596-1% $16,766
Lincoln Memorial University Knoxville Tennessee $19,860+18.1% $16,810
University of South Carolina Columbia South Carolina $18,567+10.2% $16,849
Oklahoma City University Oklahoma City Oklahoma $14,340-14.9% $16,860
University of California - Davis Davis California $22,635+34.2% $16,866
Washburn University Topeka Kansas $16,576-2.2% $16,952
University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Pennsylvania $19,258+13.5% $16,960
University of Kansas Lawrence Kansas $15,536-9.8% $17,218
Northern Illinois University DeKalb Illinois $18,930+9.9% $17,226
Baylor University Waco Texas $19,341+10.8% $17,460
North Carolina Central University Durham North Carolina $19,721+12.7% $17,500
Widener University - Pennsylvania Harrisburg Pennsylvania $21,496+22.8% $17,504
Widener University - Delaware Wilmington Delaware $21,684+23.9% $17,504
Liberty University Lynchburg Virginia $22,970+31% $17,534
Boston University Boston Massachusetts $19,233+9.2% $17,618
University of Notre Dame Notre Dame Indiana $20,450+15.9% $17,650
Florida State University Tallahassee Florida $17,212-2.8% $17,700
Duke University Durham North Carolina $22,948+29.6% $17,708
University of Toledo Toledo Ohio $18,570+4.8% $17,726
Drake University Des Moines Iowa $21,780+21.6% $17,910
Seattle University Seattle Washington $25,510+41.7% $17,997
Albany Law School Albany New York $15,970-11.3% $18,000
University of Wisconsin Madison Wisconsin $20,350+12.9% $18,030
University of Missouri - Kansas City Kansas City Missouri $15,450-14.5% $18,060
University of Oklahoma Norman Oklahoma $21,234+17.4% $18,081
Mercer University Macon Georgia $21,424+18.3% $18,114
University of Michigan Ann Arbor Michigan $19,510+7.6% $18,130
University of Mississippi University Mississippi $17,260-5.2% $18,214
University of Cincinnati Cincinnati Ohio $19,268+5.1% $18,336
University of Colorado Boulder Colorado $19,826+7.8% $18,386
Louisiana State University Baton Rouge Louisiana $24,008+30.1% $18,458
Western New England University School of Law Springfield Massachusetts $21,848+18.3% $18,461
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Dartmouth Massachusetts $24,758+33.3% $18,570
University of Washington Seattle Washington $19,437+4.7% $18,573
University of Tennessee Knoxville Tennessee $21,092+13.4% $18,594
Boston College Newton Massachusetts $19,360+3.6% $18,690
Brigham Young University Provo Utah $20,784+10.8% $18,752
Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Cleveland Ohio $19,988+6.3% $18,800
University of Louisville Louisville Kentucky $18,918+0.6% $18,802
University of St. Thomas - Minneapolis Minneapolis Minnesota $20,641+9.3% $18,890
Texas Southern University Houston Texas $20,986+10.9% $18,918
Southern University Law Center Baton Rouge Louisiana $19,821+4.8% $18,922
Cornell University Ithaca New York $23,444+21.9% $19,230
Marquette University Milwaukee Wisconsin $19,670+2.3% $19,230
Charleston School of Law Charleston South Carolina $22,636+17.6% $19,250
Syracuse University Syracuse New York $19,234-0.6% $19,353
Northeastern University Boston Massachusetts $19,5000 $19,500
Inter American University San Juan Puerto Rico $21,413+7.8% $19,868
Quinnipiac University Hamden Connecticut $20,040+0.8% $19,874
University of California - Hastings San Francisco California $26,508+33% $19,930
Case Western Reserve University Cleveland Ohio $24,128+20.2% $20,067
University of New Hampshire Concord New Hampshire $20,899+4% $20,091
University of Tulsa Tulsa Oklahoma $20,1100 $20,110
Washington and Lee University Lexington Virginia $18,125-10% $20,138
Vermont Law School South Royalton Vermont $24,934+23.8% $20,146
Yale University New Haven Connecticut $20,432+1.4% $20,150
University of California - Los Angeles Los Angeles California $26,703+32% $20,226
Southern Methodist University Dallas Texas $26,100+29% $20,238
SUNY Buffalo Buffalo New York $18,285-9.8% $20,274
Loyola University New Orleans New Orleans Louisiana $22,594+11.3% $20,300
Florida Coastal School of Law Jacksonville Florida $23,122+13.5% $20,380
Tulane University New Orleans Louisiana $22,676+10.9% $20,450
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia Pennsylvania $24,620+19.9% $20,542
Regent University Virginia Beach Virginia $22,250+8.2% $20,570
Loyola University Chicago Chicago Illinois $24,250+17.8% $20,584
University of San Francisco San Francisco California $31,937+54.6% $20,660
University of Nevada - Las Vegas Las Vegas Nevada $21,372+3.3% $20,680
Temple University Philadelphia Pennsylvania $22,488+8.7% $20,684
Wake Forest University Winston-Salem North Carolina $22,700+9.6% $20,705
Pennsylvania State University - Dickinson Law Carlisle Pennsylvania $21,238+2.4% $20,734
University of Virginia Charlottesville Virginia $19,098-8.2% $20,800
University of Utah Salt Lake City Utah $19,802-4.8% $20,802
Arizona State University Tempe Arizona $21,710+3.8% $20,906
Ohio State University Columbus Ohio $19,928-5.1% $20,990
Ave Maria School of Law Naples Florida $23,824+13.5% $20,999
University of the Pacific Sacramento California $25,350+20.6% $21,014
New England School of Law Boston Massachusetts $22,542+7.2% $21,030
Chicago-Kent College of Law Chicago Illinois $21,680+2.8% $21,098
Indiana University - Indianapolis Indianapolis Indiana $18,967-10.2% $21,124
South Texas College of Law Houston Houston Texas $21,900+3.5% $21,150
Mississippi College Jackson Mississippi $23,025+8.5% $21,225
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill North Carolina $25,672+20.8% $21,244
Charlotte School of Law Charlotte North Carolina -- $21,305
Lewis and Clark College Portland Oregon $28,100+31.3% $21,400
Suffolk University Boston Massachusetts $23,324+8.9% $21,414
University of Detroit Mercy Detroit Michigan $22,210+2.8% $21,606
University of Arizona Tucson Arizona $21,350-1.5% $21,678
University of California - Berkeley Berkeley California $26,380+21.4% $21,722
Stetson University Gulfport Florida $16,872-22.8% $21,860
Belmont University Nashville Tennessee $25,210+15.1% $21,900
Samford University Birmingham Alabama $18,022-17.7% $21,902
University of Southern California Los Angeles California $23,194+5.8% $21,915
Washington University in St Louis St. Louis Missouri $23,787+8.5% $21,925
Santa Clara University Santa Clara California $25,844+17.7% $21,956
Pace University White Plains New York $23,718+7.8% $22,002
University of Miami Coral Gables Florida $26,440+20% $22,034
Columbia University New York New York $23,080+4.6% $22,070
Rutgers University Newark and Camden New Jersey $25,984+17.1% $22,185
Faulkner University Montgomery Alabama $28,000+25% $22,400
University of San Diego San Diego California $22,589+0.6% $22,451
Vanderbilt University Nashville Tennessee $25,818+14.7% $22,516
University of Chicago Chicago Illinois $27,969+24.1% $22,536
Wayne State University Detroit Michigan $21,955-2.7% $22,570
Roger Williams University Bristol Rhode Island $17,500-22.5% $22,582
American University Washington, D.C. $23,688+4.8% $22,604
Villanova University Villanova Pennsylvania $22,732+0.6% $22,607
Seton Hall University Newark New Jersey $22,582-0.7% $22,752
New York University New York New York $27,500+20.9% $22,754
University of Baltimore Baltimore Maryland $19,950-12.5% $22,800
Hofstra University Hempstead New York $27,525+20.6% $22,823
Indiana University - Bloomington Bloomington Indiana $21,544-5.8% $22,882
St. Thomas University - Florida Miami Gardens Florida $29,490+28.8% $22,904
Pennsylvania State University - Penn State Law College Park Pennsylvania $23,0560 $23,056
St. John's University Queens New York $23,109+0.1% $23,091
California Western School of Law San Diego California $24,126+4.2% $23,160
George Mason University Arlington Virginia $24,862+7.1% $23,210
New York Law School New York New York $23,759+2.3% $23,221
Elon Law School Greensboro North Carolina $29,060+25% $23,243
Drexel University Philadelphia Pennsylvania $22,980-1.6% $23,356
John Marshall Law School - Atlanta Atlanta Georgia $27,425+17.2% $23,405
St. Louis University St. Louis Missouri $20,734-11.6% $23,456
Northwestern University Chicago Illinois $21,030-10.5% $23,500
Howard University Washington, D.C. $27,616+17% $23,612
Georgetown University Washington, D.C. $28,750+21.6% $23,635
Harvard University Cambridge Massachusetts $29,408+23.5% $23,814
John Marshall Law School - Chicago Chicago Illinois $25,507+7% $23,849
University of California - Irvine Irvine California $30,088+25.3% $24,004
Barry University Orlando Florida $26,000+7.7% $24,150
University of La Verne Ontario California $29,245+20.3% $24,310
Brooklyn Law School Brooklyn New York $24,399+0.2% $24,343
DePaul University Chicago Illinois $22,562-7.9% $24,500
Cardozo-Yeshiva University New York New York $27,906+13.6% $24,568
Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale Florida $28,303+15% $24,618
Touro College Central Islip New York $23,840-3.2% $24,635
Golden Gate University San Francisco California $26,908+9.2% $24,641
Florida International University Miami Florida $26,032+5.1% $24,776
Western State University Fullerton California $33,776+36% $24,832
Whittier Law School Costa Mesa California $37,527+47.7% $25,412
Pepperdine University Malibu California $27,000+6% $25,476
Fordham University New York New York $27,362+7% $25,583
Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles California $31,240+20% $26,042
Florida A&M University Orlando Florida $27,270+4.5% $26,086
Arizona Summit Law School Phoenix Arizona $22,100-15.3% $26,100
Emory University Atlanta Georgia $23,352-11.1% $26,282
Thomas Jefferson School of Law San Diego California $25,140-5.2% $26,530
Campbell University Raleigh North Carolina $26,970+1% $26,700
Southwestern Law School Los Angeles California $30,750+14.7% $26,819
Catholic University of America Washington, D.C. $24,644-9.4% $27,202
Stanford University Palo Alto California $35,613+30.6% $27,279
University of Maryland Baltimore Maryland $23,020-18.2% $28,139
Appalachian School of Law Grundy Virginia $18,100-36.1% $28,325
George Washington University Washington, D.C. $27,380-4.4% $28,650
Chapman University Orange California $27,706-7.1% $29,826
Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico Ponce Puerto Rico $19,148-36.6% $30,189
University of The District of Columbia Washington, D.C. $29,890-3.8% $31,059
Concordia University School of Law Boise Idaho $16,034- -
University of North Texas Dallas College of Law Dallas Texas $19,334- -
Mitchell Hamline School of Law Saint Paul Minnesota $19,450- -

About the Data

School-specific cost of living data come from the American Bar Association. Cost of living reflects the maximum amount a student can borrow from the federal government to cover nine months of room & board, books & supplies, transportation, and other personal expenses. Schools can use any reasonable method for determining the maximum allowable budget, from periodic surveys of student population to local real estate assessments. LST uses the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) for inflation, which covers 89% of the total U.S. population.