Law Students

Law School Debt Rankings – Law Schools with the Highest Debt
Download PDF
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)


Summary: What law schools will leave you the most in debt? The following list may surprise you.

Going to law school is a tough decision for everyone. Not only because it’s a guaranteed three years of your life in mental anguish, but also because the cost combined with the somewhat bleak job outlook would make any rational person pause.


Fortunately, potential law students can arm themselves with information about how expensive their future law school actually is. U.S. News and World Report analyzed the indebtedness of law school graduates in 2015, and they discovered a huge gap between the school with the highest student debt, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, and the least, University of Hawaii-Manoa. To no one’s surprise, the majority of graduates had student loan debt, but what was shocking about this list was that even the non-top ranked schools came with a heavy price tag for students.

For example, the number one law school with the highest indebtedness was Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego. The expensive school made headlines earlier this year when its former student, Anna Alaburda, sued it for false advertising.The case had been closely watched in the legal community because the alumni claimed she was unable to get an attorney job after graduation and that the school inflated its employment data. The case went to trial and she lost; however, Alaburda may have won another victory. The accusations of Thomas Jefferson graduates not getting jobs combined with the average indebtedness of $172,726 will forever tarnish the school’s reputation to potential students who are able to Google.

Columbia University and New York University were the next law schools with the highest average indebtedness for 2015 graduates. However, unlike Thomas Jefferson, Columbia and NYU are top ranked, which somewhat justifies their students’ indebtedness of $168,627 and $166,022, respectively.

Get JD Journal in Your Mail

Subscribe to our FREE daily news alerts and get the latest updates on the most happening events in the legal, business, and celebrity world. You also get your daily dose of humor and entertainment!!

Columbia was the 4th Best Law School on U.S. News 2017 list and 1st on The National Law Journal’s Go-To Law School list. Harrison Barnes of BCG Attorney Search said that Columbia students tend to gravitate towards high-paying law firm jobs, which makes sense because so many of the majors are located nearby.

Like Columbia, New York University has close proximity to major law firms, which is a draw for the 96.7% of students who find employment ten months after graduation.

In addition to compiling indebtedness data, U.S. News ranks the top law schools based on factors such as how hard it is to get in and job prospects. Out of the 2017 list, Arizona State University is the most affordable out of the top 25 schools. Only 55% of its graduates have debt, and the average amount of debt is $106,426, which is much more affordable than Thomas Jefferson. According to JD Journal, ASU in Tempe, AZ offers in-state students a reduced rate of $27,074. Out-of-staters can expect to pay $42,794.

The large percentage of law schools on this list had average student indebtedness in the six figure range, and there was a good portion of schools with students in debt in the $80K and $90K range. On the low end, the cheapest schools still left their students with almost $60K in debt. Those were the University of Nebraska – Lincoln ($58,744), University of South Dakota ($57,170), Belmont University ($56,225), and University of Hawaii – Manoa ($54,988).

School Name Location Average indebtedness of 2015 graduates who incurred law school debt Percent of grads with debt
Thomas Jefferson School of Law San Diego, CA $172,726 90%
Columbia University New York, NY $168,627 59%
New York University New York, NY $166,022 69%
University of San Francisco San Francisco, CA $162,434 79%
The John Marshall Law School Chicago, IL $162,264 82%
California Western School of Law San Diego, CA $162,260 89%
New York Law School New York, NY $161,910 80%
Florida Coastal School of Law Jacksonville, FL $160,942 94%
Georgetown University Washington, DC $160,606 73%
American University (Washington) Washington, DC $160,274 80%
Vermont Law School South Royalton, VT $156,710 87%
University of Miami Coral Gables, FL $155,796 72%
Northwestern University (Pritzker) Chicago, IL $155,796 78%
Cornell University Ithaca, NY $155,025 77%
Tulane University New Orleans, LA $153,606 65%
Harvard University Cambridge, MA $149,754 72%
University of the Pacific (McGeorge) Sacramento, CA $149,470 83%
Fordham University New York, NY $149,058 60%
Pepperdine University Malibu, CA $148,959 74%
Widener University (Commonwealth) Harrisburg, PA $148,496 91%
Whittier College Costa Mesa, CA $148,316 84%
Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles, CA $148,035 80%
University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA $146,907 71%
Charleston School of Law Charleston, SC $146,230 65%
University of California-Berkeley Berkeley, CA $144,981 72%
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA $144,153 74%
Santa Clara University Santa Clara, CA $144,130 65%
Golden Gate University San Francisco, CA $143,740 88%
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI $142,572 76%
Howard University Washington, DC $141,044 90%
Lewis & Clark College (Northwestern) Portland, OR $140,025 81%
The Catholic University of America Washington, DC $139,803 75%
Syracuse University Syracuse, NY $139,753 88%
Suffolk University Boston, MA $138,724 81%
Mercer University (George) Macon, GA $138,575 88%
Marquette University Milwaukee, WI $138,549 86%
Barry University Orlando, FL $138,410 88%
University of Detroit Mercy Detroit, MI $137,047 62%
Widener University Wilmington, DE $136,992 88%
Seattle University Seattle, WA $136,889 82%
George Washington University Washington, DC $136,662 70%
University of California (Hastings) San Francisco, CA $135,886 90%
Baylor University Waco, TX $135,817 65%
University of San Diego San Diego, CA $135,433 81%
University of Southern California (Gould) Los Angeles, CA $134,673 70%
Ave Maria School of Law Naples, FL $134,071 77%
Willamette University (Collins) Salem, OR $133,318 80%
Loyola University Chicago Chicago, IL $133,052 85%
Seton Hall University Newark, NJ $133,000 69%
Stanford University Stanford, CA $132,970 79%
University of Denver (Sturm) Denver, CO $132,158 77%
DePaul University Chicago, IL $131,148 84%
Duke University Durham, NC $131,073 68%
Valparaiso University Valparaiso, IN $131,024 94%
Stetson University Gulfport, FL $130,079 82%
Pennsylvania State University-University Park University Park, PA $129,772 81%
University of Chicago Chicago, IL $129,636 68%
Mississippi College Jackson, MS $129,000 70%
Elon University Greensboro, NC $128,407 86%
Northeastern University Boston, MA $127,406 72%
University of California-Irvine Irvine, CA $125,473 71%
Gonzaga University Spokane, WA $125,347 79%
Hofstra University (Deane) Hempstead, NY $125,300 77%
Albany Law School Albany, NY $125,157 88%
Pace University White Plains, NY $124,823 86%
Southern Methodist University (Dedman) Dallas, TX $124,723 81%
Loyola University New Orleans New Orleans, LA $124,143 78%
Samford University (Cumberland) Birmingham, AL $124,106 96%
Nova Southeastern University (Broad) Fort Lauderdale, FL $123,798 95%
Roger Williams University Bristol, RI $123,332 84%
University of Notre Dame Notre Dame, IN $122,822 72%
Yale University New Haven, CT $122,796 76%
St. Mary’s University San Antonio, TX $122,560 89%
Western State College of Law at Argosy University Irvine, CA $122,315 64%
George Mason University Arlington, VA $121,910 76%
South Texas College of Law Houston, TX $121,767 75%
Oklahoma City University Oklahoma City, OK $121,607 71%
Emory University Atlanta, GA $121,278 69%
Yeshiva University (Cardozo) New York, NY $119,294 70%
University of California-Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA $118,874 73%
University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL $118,731 71%
Creighton University Omaha, NE $117,980 91%
Pennsylvania State University (Dickinson) Carlisle, PA $116,717 74%
Capital University Columbus, OH $116,283 84%
University of Dayton Dayton, OH $115,740 89%
St. John’s University Jamaica, NY $115,666 78%
Campbell University Raleigh, NC $115,128 83%
Illinois Institute of Technology (Chicago-Kent) Chicago, IL $115,040 80%
University of Maryland (Carey) Baltimore, MD $114,493 68%
Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN $114,447 70%
University of California-Davis Davis, CA $113,765 72%
St. Louis University St. Louis, MO $113,070 82%
Boston College Newton, MA $112,439 72%
University of Baltimore Baltimore, MD $112,008 82%
University of Washington Seattle, WA $111,003 73%
Villanova University Villanova, PA $110,792 72%
University of Richmond Richmond, VA $110,665 63%
College of William and Mary (Marshall-Wythe) Williamsburg, VA $110,140 80%
Washington and Lee University Lexington, VA $110,067 76%
Washington University in St. Louis St. Louis, MO $109,232 61%
Brooklyn Law School Brooklyn, NY $108,942 75%
University of New Hampshire School of Law Concord, NH $108,896 80%
William Mitchell College of Law* St. Paul, MN $108,678 88%
University of the District of Columbia (Clarke) Washington, DC $108,095 71%
Drake University Des Moines, IA $107,649 83%
Hamline University* St. Paul, MN $107,359 90%
University of Colorado-Boulder Boulder, CO $107,080 71%
University of Oregon Eugene, OR $106,540 84%
Arizona State University (O’Connor) Tempe, AZ $106,426 55%
Indiana University-Indianapolis (McKinney) Indianapolis, IN $106,114 83%
Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, OH $105,854 75%
Duquesne University Pittsburgh, PA $104,623 90%
University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA $104,484 79%
Texas A&M University Fort Worth, TX $104,200 88%
Chapman University (Fowler) Orange, CA $103,956 81%
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC $102,828 72%
University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth North Dartmouth, MA $102,603 88%
Ohio Northern University (Pettit) Ada, OH $102,414 84%
Boston University Boston, MA $102,329 73%
University of Texas-Austin Austin, TX $102,101 68%
University of St. Thomas Minneapolis, MN $101,950 73%
University of Arizona (Rogers) Tucson, AZ $100,902 69%
Drexel University (Kline) Philadelphia, PA $100,362 81%
University of Maine Portland, ME $99,617 73%
Wake Forest University Winston-Salem, NC $97,550 88%
Quinnipiac University Hamden, CT $97,335 86%
University of Missouri-Kansas City Kansas City, MO $96,639 83%
Ohio State University (Moritz) Columbus, OH $96,253 83%
Lincoln Memorial University Knoxville, TN $95,495 60%
Florida International University Miami, FL $95,331 85%
University of Toledo Toledo, OH $94,295 88%
Cleveland State University (Cleveland-Marshall) Cleveland, OH $93,865 81%
Michigan State University East Lansing, MI $93,245 77%
Regent University Virginia Beach, VA $93,142 92%
University of Minnesota Minneapolis, MN $92,179 72%
Indiana University-Bloomington (Maurer) Bloomington, IN $91,020 77%
Southern Illinois University-Carbondale Carbondale, IL $90,727 92%
Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge (Hebert) Baton Rouge, LA $90,609 74%
University of Houston Houston, TX $87,602 69%
Temple University (Beasley) Philadelphia, PA $86,999 83%
SUNY Buffalo Law School Buffalo, NY $86,970 75%
University of Louisville (Brandeis) Louisville, KY $86,880 79%
Southern University Law Center Baton Rouge, LA $86,708 94%
Washburn University Topeka, KS $86,621 84%
University of Georgia Athens, GA $86,515 82%
University of Iowa Iowa City, IA $86,373 77%
West Virginia University Morgantown, WV $85,063 88%
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey $85,054 66%
University of South Carolina Columbia, SC $85,006 78%
Northern Kentucky University (Chase) Highland Heights, KY $84,714 39%
University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison, WI $84,650 76%
University of Florida (Levin) Gainesville, FL $84,580 73%
University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, OH $82,988 78%
University of Tulsa Tulsa, OK $82,954 100%
University of Oklahoma Norman, OK $82,818 78%
Wayne State University Detroit, MI $82,397 77%
Florida State University Tallahassee, FL $82,102 84%
University of Idaho Moscow, ID $81,993 85%
University of Nevada-Las Vegas Las Vegas, NV $81,579 81%
University of Missouri Columbia, MO $81,149 83%
University of Kansas Lawrence, KS $80,884 81%
University of Montana Missoula, MT $79,304 80%
University of Utah (Quinney) Salt Lake City, UT $79,124 82%
University of Akron Akron, OH $78,575 84%
Northern Illinois University De Kalb, IL $77,975 85%
University of Kentucky Lexington, KY $77,793 72%
University of Memphis (Humphreys) Memphis, TN $77,752 74%
CUNY Long Island City, NY $77,751 86%
University of Wyoming Laramie, WY $77,421 88%
University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL $74,921 69%
Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX $74,673 75%
University of Mississippi University, MS $71,330 78%
University of New Mexico Albuquerque, NM $69,366 87%
University of Connecticut Hartford, CT $69,195 79%
University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND $69,058 77%
University of Arkansas-Little Rock (Bowen) Little Rock, AR $68,960 77%
Liberty University Lynchburg, VA $68,667 84%
University of Tennessee-Knoxville Knoxville, TN $66,939 78%
Georgia State University Atlanta, GA $66,637 78%
University of Arkansas-Fayetteville Fayetteville, AR $64,901 74%
Brigham Young University (Clark) Provo, UT $62,423 68%
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Lincoln, NE $58,744 70%
University of South Dakota Vermillion, SD $57,170 83%
Belmont University Nashville, TN $56,225 78%
University of Hawaii-Manoa (Richardson) Honolulu, HI $54,988 75%

Source: U.S. News and World Report

What do you think of the price of law school? Let us know in the comments below.



Associate Attorney


ASSOCIATE ATTORNEY McKenna Snyder LLC, a law firm in Exton, PA has an immediate opening for an ex...

Apply now



Qualifications: HaasCaywood is seeking associate attorneys for our Coldwater and Sturgis, Michiga...

Apply now



Qualifications: HaasCaywood is seeking associate attorneys for our Coldwater and Sturgis, Michiga...

Apply now

Insurance Defense Trial Attorney/ Senior Counsel

USA-CA-San Francisco

Job description Trial Attorney - Personal Injury Defense Full Job Description Hickey Smith ...

Apply now




Search Now

Education Law Attorney

USA-CA-El Segundo

El Segundo office of a BCG Attorney Search Top Ranked Law Firm seeks an education law attorney with ...

Apply Now

Education Law Attorney


Carlsbad office of a BCG Attorney Search Top Ranked Law Firm seeks an education law attorney with 4-...

Apply Now

Education Law and Public Entity Attorney

USA-CA-El Segundo

El Segundo office of a BCG Attorney Search Top Ranked Law Firm seeks an education law and public ent...

Apply Now

Most Popular


To Top