How Much Does Paralegal School Cost?

Lawyers these days rely greatly on paralegals that it’s difficult to imagine a law firm without them. Paralegals assist lawyers in many facets of law practice. They do research for the cases the lawyer is handling, interview witnesses, gather evidence, draft legal documents and meet clients. Unlike a lawyer who needs to go through the rigors of law school, paralegals can enter the job with just a two-year associate’s degree. This means lesser expenses overall.

How much an aspiring paralegal expects to pay for his tuition and fees while attending school depends on the path he will take to become one. The tuition for an associate’s degree in paralegal studies in a community college runs a little over $2,300 annually. Books cost about $1,400. This brings the total to a little over $6,100 for tuition and books for an associate’s degree.

Those who opt to obtain a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies to gain entry to the profession will have to be ready to shell out more. The cost of tuition for this course is about $5,000 in a college in the United States. When books and other fees are factored into the equation, a student of a four-year bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies can expect to shell out close to $29,000 for the entire program. Although this is definitely a more expensive route to take, it may also translate to better job opportunities after graduation since law firms prefer those with bachelor’s degrees than with associate’s degrees, all things being equal.

Individuals who have already finished a bachelor’s degree but want to get a paralegal certificate can enroll in a course that can be completed in a year’s time. Tuition and other fees to obtain this certificate is about $6,000.

The three paths mentioned above are generally sufficient for those who are looking for entry-level jobs as paralegals. Those paralegals who already have a job but are seeking to take on more senior level roles can take a master’s degree in paralegal studies offered in some colleges. Tuition costs in the vicinity of $5,000 annually. Master’s degrees typically take two years to complete such that when books and fees are included, someone who wants to obtain a master’s degree in paralegal studies can expect to spend a little over $14,000 for the entire program.

Tuition and school fees aren’t the only things that students should prepare for when taking up paralegal studies. There are expenses associated with rent, food and other needs. This varies greatly where the student will be studying and how costly his activities outside of school are going to be. According to the College Board, low to moderate budgets for independent students living off-campus ranges from $15,420 to $23,010 for one year. Fifty-five percent of this goes to housing, 17 percent is allocated for transportation and 28 percent to miscellaneous expenses.

Students who continue to stay at home and live with their parents while they are obtaining their degree in a community college will definitely be able to save a lot on their cost of living expenses. They may also defray their expenses if they don’t go out as much.

Career Spotlight: Paralegal

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