Grantee Research

Law Student Debt: Changes from 2008 to 2012 and Implications for the Future

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



law students, financial status and behavior, law schools, student loans, gender, race


In 2012, graduate students borrowed more than $35 billion in loans to finance their education. Like some other fields of study, tuition and fees for Law school has increased precipitously in the past few decades. Using data from the National Study of Postsecondary Student Aid (NPSAS) this study examined changes in education debt for Law students from 2008 to 2012, with Law graduates reporting a mean cumulative debt of almost $122,000 in 2012. Increasing education debt may discourage students from even considering enrollment and/or may motivate degree completers to seek more lucrative jobs after graduation simply to pay off loans. Additional implications are discussed.