Tuition and Living Expenses
Tuition for the 2019-2020 academic year is $66,651. A reasonable budget for a single student, including tuition and living expenses, for the 2019-2020 academic year is approximately $94,600. The living expenses budget includes $4,566 for the University required health insurance which students can waive if they can provide comparable coverage with their own health insurance. Cities in the United States vary as to how expensive they are to live in; this budget takes into account the cost of living in Chicago. Tuition and budget figures for 2020-2021 will be available in April, 2020.
Financial aid from the Law School
Financial aid for students in the LLM program is limited. Grants are available only in a small portion of the total cost. In a typical LLM class, about 30% of the students will receive scholarship grants based on financial need and merit from the Law School and the average grant is between $15,000 and $20,000. LLM applicants requiring financial aid should make every effort to obtain assistance from their governments, families, employers, or other outside sources.
Admitted applicants who wish to be considered for financial assistance from the Law School will be asked at the time of admission to supply information about their own and their family's financial circumstances.
Why is tuition so high?
Applicants to LLM programs in the United States are often surprised by the cost of higher education here. Students from outside the US are generally used to much lower costs for higher education, and some applicants may be considering attending an LLM program in another common law country where tuition is substantially less. They wonder about American tuition costs and whether coming to study in our country is worth the additional expense. The following observations, based on conversations with our recent LLM graduates, may be helpful to prospective students in answering these questions.
Many of our LLM students attended universities with little or no tuition expenses. In those countries the universities receive substantial financial support from local and national governments. In this country, our private universities, like the University of Chicago, do not get such government funding. Even our state universities, such as the University of Virginia and the University of California, get relatively little government financial support. At Chicago, for example, tuition alone covers less than half of the Law School's annual cost to educate our students. As a consequence, endowment income and contributions from our graduates and others are key elements in supporting the overall academic and social experience at the Law School.
The structure of American universities accounts for some of the difference in cost. For example, US law professors have substantially higher salaries than professors in other countries. While in many other countries, law professors have robust legal practices and only teach part-time, in the United States law professors are employed full-time by law schools. They focus on their teaching and research and our LLM students report that is reflected in the quality of the classroom experience and office discussions. In addition, since faculty members have the credentials to easily move to the practice of law if they wanted to, law schools must be willing to pay salaries which are competitive with law firms and other organizations to retain them.
Universities and law schools in this country also devote lots of resources to what are generally called student support services and student activities. Schools do this because they believe those opportunities enhance the experience of their students. See, for example, the activities provided for LLM students at Chicago. In addition, the University provides free bus and shuttle services and open access to sports and recreational facilities.
As for the question of whether the experience is worth it, it is best for you to hear directly from four of our LLM graduates who attended the annual Law School Reunion in May, 2017: