Taking the LSAT and applying to law school is not an inexpensive endeavor. In addition to the fee that the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) charges for registering for the LSAT test, there are significant costs associated with preparing for the exam. The good news is that you may be able to get some of these costs reduced.
Currently, the "basic fee" for taking the LSAT is $160. However, there are several potential "auxiliary" fees. For example, if you register late, you will have to pay an additional $69. If you need to change your LSAT test location after registration, the fee is $35. If you decide to change the date that you take the test, the LSAC will charge you $80 more. Visit LSAC.org for a complete list of all fees.
In addition, most law schools require that applicants use the LSAC's Credential Assembly Service (CAS). For $155 the CAS will create a report that summarizes your LSAT scores, academic record, letters of recommendation and professional record, and send the report to the law schools you apply to.
You may be eligible for a need-based "fee waiver" from the LSAC. In order to receive a fee waiver, you must demonstrate a legitimate financial need. The application process requires that you submit detailed financial information about your income, savings and assets, including copies of your tax returns. If you are married you will have to submit details about your spouse's finances. If you are in college, you also will be required to report details of the financial aid you are receiving to support your tuition and fees. The LSAC suggests that you request a fee waiver at least 6 weeks prior to the LSAT registration deadline. If approved, the fee waiver covers:
• Two LSAT fees per two-year fee waiver period
• One registration for the CAS
• Four law school reports from the CAS
• One copy of The Official LSAT SuperPrep
As a college student with minimal income, you may feel that you will absolutely qualify for a fee waiver. On the contrary, it is not easy to receive a fee waiver from the LSAC. The only criterion for receiving a fee waiver that the LSAC has disclosed is very vague: "The absolute inability to pay for the service." And it warns that just because a student is eligible for other types of financial aid does not mean that that student will be eligible for an LSAC fee waiver. Indeed, "only those with extreme need should apply."
After paying at least $315 to register for the LSAT and the CAS, you are now faced with the fees associated with preparing for the LSAT. Preparing for the LSAT is typically quite a bit more expensive than registering for it. There are different ways of preparing for the LSAT: a live LSAT prep course, an online LSAT prep course, LSAT self study using purchased books, or a combination of methods. Live courses from top LSAT prep schools such as the Kaplan or Princeton Review cost from $1500-$2500. Online courses are around $600-$800, while the cost of purchasing LSAT prep books is between $100-$500. Many prep courses offer financial aid and scholarship programs. Criteria vary from program to program.
Plan early and investigate both the entire LSAT cost as well as fee reduction options. If you think that you might qualify, apply. But keep in mind that more fee waiver and fee reduction applications are declined than are approved. It is wise to start saving early.