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There should really be 2 certificates given at commencement to commemorate the J.D. experience. Your law school diploma. And the bill.
For those contemplating the J.D. leap or those who are taking it, law school loan debt is often an inevitable reality. And while you probably can't avoid it completely, you can definitely take measures to manage and minimize it. And the penny saved in law school, will be one less yanked from your wallet when you leave. Here are a few ways to rein in spending as an "L".
29 Ways to Minimize Law School Loan Debt:
1. Look at your portfolio before you start. Is it the right time to go to law school?
2. Minimize your pre law school debt.
3. Pay off your credit cards before starting law school. Then hide them from yourself.
4. Apply for scholarships. Before 1L. And after.
5. Find and use gift cards & discount cards. AAA discount please!
6. Don't skimp on health insurance.
7. Find financial savvy. Meet with a financial planner, read a book, talk to people about short/mid/long term strategies for managing debt.
8. Borrow as much as you need. Not more!
9. Think about your debt payback strategies before J.D. graduation day
10. Consider consolidating loans. It may or may not be the best option for you. Investigate further.
11. Garage sale what you don't need. Less stuff means less stuff to move, to store, to clean.
12. Sell your books after the final. Before the edition changes. And buy used.
13. Live at home or with roommates.
15. Find free. Harness the power of free.
16. Use online financial planning tools (like Mint.com) to create and stick to a budget.
17. Pay the minimum on your debts, then pay off the highest interest debts first.
18. Create an emergency fund to get you through 6-12 months of Bar studying/job searching after graduation. Another option is a bar loan.
19. Potluck. Food and friends. You can tip yourself.
20. Tutor. Earn while you learn.
21. Work at your law school library. Learn where everything is and study when it's not busy.
22. Look for paid legal research positions on campus. Build connections, gain research experience, and get paid.
23. Graduate early. Summer school or study abroad can get you there. Faster.
24. Look into loan forgiveness options. Public interest law careers & debt-free living are possible. Build your network for success.
25. Keep investing even throughout law school.
26. Craig's List it.
27. FAFSA is a friend.
28. Understand the recent student loan reform measure that cuts out the middleman.
29. Accept that there will be debt. Keep moving forward.