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Personal cost of attendance


Estimating personal cost of attendance

We encourage prospective students to estimate their personal cost of attendance at Vanderbilt as an important factor in deciding where to attend law school. The value of outlining a personal budget cannot be overstated; small differences in expenses can reap large rewards. Consider that reducing expenses $5.00 per day, five days per week, saves $3,900 over three years. Consider further that the total interest on a $3,900 loan repaid over ten years at an annual interest rate of 6.8% would be $2,264, making savings equal to $6,164. Looking for opportunities to lower law school expenses before you enroll can pay off in the future by protecting your future income from debt repayment obligations.

Personal cost of attendance = (Vanderbilt tuition - scholarships received) + your estimated living expenses


Annual tuition ($64,284 in 2021-22) is a fixed charge to all students. Scholarship funds are credited to tuition charges and the remainder represents the net tuition amount a student must pay. Total net tuition costs over three years equal:

[(3 times tuition) minus (3 times scholarship)] + (potential tuition increases in years two and three).

It bears mention that a student receiving equal scholarship offers from schools with different tuitions are not equal values. For example, a $20,000 annual scholarship is worth more at a school where annual tuition equals $55,000 than at a school with a tuition of $60,000. At the former, the student would pay $35,000 net tuition compared to $40,000 at the latter. 


It can be difficult to estimate living expenses when moving to a new location. A law school's living expense estimate is a good place to start, but these estimates may include expenses that you might or might not personally incur. Your personal
choices and circumstances that influence spending (e.g., living alone or with a roommate; eating out or at home; spending on entertainment, owning a car or using public transportation; etc.).will shape the amount you actually pay for your livi9ng expenses during law school.

Many VLS students live comfortably while spending less than the amounts estimated by the University, thereby minimizing the indirect cost of their legal education. We encourage admitted students to consult the Obiter Dictum: Your Insider's Guide to Vanderbilt Law School in your admission packet while estimating considering their personal living expenses in Nashville. The Obiter is an extremely valuable resource written by current VLS students that saves new VLS students time and resources by providing helpful detailed information about where to live, getting set up, where to eat, where to shop (services and retail), and other topics. 

| Cost of Attendance - 9-month Non-tuition Allowances and Tuition |


Borrowing based on your estimated expenses

Most VLS students pay for law school with a combination of savings, earnings during law school, and student loans. About 60% of VLS students borrow to cover some of their personal tuition and living expenses during law school. Students are normally eligible to borrow up to the full cost of attendance (equal to tuition and fees plus the school’s estimate for living expenses) minus scholarships. This means that they are eligible to borrow the amount of tuition and fees not covered by scholarships, plus the full amount of estimated living expenses. While this figure is the maximum loan amount the university will approve for a qualified student borrower; you may borrow less..

Even with the best information and advice available, estimating your living expenses for your first year can be difficult. Some new students coming to Vanderbilt take the approach of accepting the full amount of loans for which they are approved and later reducing the amount of their loans for the first year once they have arranged their living situation and established their actual personal budgets.

Reducing the amount you borrow protects your future income from debt repayment obligations. Using savings and other assets, gifts from family and others, and in-school earnings to pay law school expenses can help keep your educational debt as low as possible.


Comparing living expense estimates made by different law schools

Because different law schools take different approaches estimating living expenses, estimated cost of attendance figures for different law schools may not provide a reliable basis for comparing expected costs to attend various law schools you may be considering. read more ....


Questions? Contact the Admissions Office

615-322-6452 |