Exam Advice

How will I pay for the bar exam?

When you first applied to law schools and sat down to budget your funds for tuition, books, etc., you may not have realized that after leveraging yourself to the hilt, you were going to need to cough up even more money after graduation for something called the bar exam. Don’t feel bad. Most students fail to account for how they will pay for their bar exam expenses.

These days, full-service bar review course can set you back several thousand dollars. Then there are the supplemental bar review courses that many students will take to provide additional preparation for the essays or MBE. Furthermore your bar exam expenses will consist of more than just bar review tuition. You will also need money to pay the bar exam filing fees, living expenses while you study full-time for the exam, as well as hotel and other travel expenses if you have to take the exam outside your hometown.

Given the necessity of becoming licensed to practice law you cannot afford NOT to take the exam. So how will you afford to take it? Depending on when in your law school career you are reading this, there are several options that may apply to your situation.

1. Bar Review Discounts

Investigate the bar review courses available for your state early in your law school career. Once you decide which course makes sense for you, inquire as to any discounts that may apply if you sign up early. Also inquire as to whether you can lock in a guaranteed price and avoid future price increases. You should also ask about scholarships or tuition assistance programs as they may provide additional reductions in your bar review expenses.

2. Bar Exam Loans

Many banks around the country offer what is called the Bar Exam Loan (BEL) which allows you to borrow money for your bar exam expenses. You can use this money to pay for your bar review course or you can use it toward living expenses and other expenses associated with taking the bar exam such as travel expenses associated with taking the exam. Be sure to investigate these loans and apply well before you need the money as it can take time to process.

3. Earn a free bar review course

If you know that you are going to have difficulty paying for your bar review course, then you should inquire about becoming an on-campus rep for your bar review course. There are usually only limited openings for bar review campus reps so you will want to inquire early. Many bar review courses hire reps starting in their first or second year of law school. Therefore, if you wait until your final year of law school to apply, you may find that all of the positions are filled. Also most of the hiring occurs early in the school year, so do not put off applying for these positions. Furthermore, you may have to sign-up a minimum number of students before earning your free bar review course. Therefore, you will want to give yourself more time to meet those targets. It will be easier to sign-up your classmates in their first or second year of law school when they are uncommitted than to wait until their third year when they may have already signed up with someone else.

I hope that the above suggestions will help you to better afford your bar review expenses. Ignoring your bar review expenses will not make them go away. So plan ahead to ensure that you can afford all of the costs associated with the bar exam. Taking the bar exam is stressful enough without having to struggle to pay for it.

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