MSU College of Law

2016-2017 Academic Year

The Office of Financial aid is required to develop a cost of attendance/budget each year for full-time and part-time students.  The budget is an estimate of allowable expenses (tuition, fees, books & supplies, transportation and living allowance) for the approximate nine month academic year that students are enrolled. Figures within the budget are based on the average amount needed to meet direct charges such as tuition and indirect charges such as living expenses. In addition, the Student Budget represents the maximum amount of financial assistance that a student may be awarded for the academic year (the total of grants, scholarships, and loans).To repeat, students may not be awarded financial aid above the cost of attendance as determined by the school.

The budget is based upon projected maximum costs for the 2016-2017 academic year. Allowances are provided to assist in meeting educational costs and are not intended to cover individual expenses which vary greatly depending upon personal lifestyle. Students receiving a scholarship or other awards must subtract such awards from the budget in determining their maximum borrowing limit, i.e. loan eligibility.

Students who expect to rely on loans are strongly encouraged to develop their own budget. New students can use the budget worksheet provided on the Admitted Candidates page while continuing students can use the budget worksheet provided here.

Law students enrolled in 13 or more credit hours per semester are considered full time for financial aid purposes.  Enrolling for fewer than 13 credits does not necessarily make you part-time or place you in the part-time program.  Tuition is charged at a per credit rate and is the same for in-state, out-of-state and international students.  Residency does not affect tuition rates at the law school, but it may have an impact on tuition rates for dual-degree students.

Law students who have higher-than normal expenses (e.g., day care) may request an increase to accommodate these expenses by contacting the Office of Financial Aid at Due to federal guidelines, only certain expenses can be used to have the budget increased. Refer to Appealing the Student Budget Limit section for details.

Appealing the Student Budget Limit

The Office of Financial Aid is required by federal regulations to establish a student budget each year for students. The budget represents the maximum amount of money that an independent student, living a modest lifestyle, should need during his/her enrollment as a full-time student. The cost of attendance is intended to cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, supplies and a living allowance for the time the student is enrolled (nine months).

In some instances a student may have the budget increased to accommodate special expenses. Increases to the budget are considered on a case-by-case basis.  Sometimes one student’s request is approved while another’s is denied.  To request an increase, a student must file a Cost of Attendance Increase form. If an appeal is successful, the student's budget will be increased and additional loan will be offered.

To repeat, obtaining more funds is a two-step process that involves submitting an appeal to have the budget raised and then accepting additional loan assistance.

Permissible and Impermissible Expenses

The following are examples of permissible and impermissible reasons for requesting an increase.

Permissible Reasons for a Budget Increase

  • Unusual medical/dental expenses for the student or his/her dependent(s) incurred during the school year;
  • Daycare/childcare expenses;
  • The purchase of a computer for use in law-school studies (up to $1400)

Impermissible Reasons for a Budget Increase

  • Consumer debt or debt relating to financing an automobile;
  • Expenses relating to supporting a spouse/child (other than daycare);
  • Purchase of home furnishings or automobile payments;
  • Moving expenses

Appeals Process

Appeals to increase the Student Budget must be supported by documentation, such as an itemized receipt for a computer.

Appeal forms may be obtained from the Office of Financial Aid, 316 Law College Building, or by emailing  Forms should be returned to the same office.

Students may mail or fax completed forms to:

Michigan State University College of Law

Office of Financial Aid

Law College Building

648 N. Shaw Lane, Room 316

East Lansing, MI 48824-1300

(517) 432-0098


Be sure to include supporting documents (e.g., receipt(s), invoice), if instructed to do so. The Office of Financial Aid typically evaluates appeals within 2-4 business days of their submission.

Required Documentation for the Most Common Appeals to Student Budget

NOTE: Since appeals to the student budget result in increased borrowing limits, it is most important that law students who file an appeal are aware of their overall indebtedness and the impact on repayment.

The MSU College of Law encourages students to minimize reliance on loans and to consider the consequences of borrowing by projecting the percentage of expected monthly income that will be devoted to loan repayments. Students should always maintain accurate records of loans received and have a full sense of their current total educational debt. Generally speaking, loan repayments should ideally not exceed 10-15% of net income.

Law students who rely on loans are strongly encouraged to calculate the monthly repayment of loans, given the amount borrowed, the interest rate, and the period of repayment.

Thrifty Budget

The Thrifty Budget is the default budget for all incoming full-time students.  The budget is calculated with the expectation that students will have a roommate which will reduce living costs, and that they will take advantage of the public transportation on campus and will not need a car.  The costs for living alone and maintaining a car can be quite high and our intention is to encourage--not require--students to take careful consideration of their potential costs and indebtedness over the next three years of their legal education.  Nonetheless we do not process financial aid according to each student's particular living situation; students should note that the difference between our thrifty and standard budgets is approximately $5400. If a student believes the Thrifty Budget will not be adequate then he or she should complete the Budget Worksheet for 2016-2017 and submit it to the Financial Aid Office (with his or her PID/student number) at

Budgets 2016-2017 (Fall and Spring only)

Full time 3301 1L Thrifty Budget(based on 29 credits)
Tuition $41528.00
Fees $32.00
RWA Lab Fees $200.00
Average Stafford Fees $218.00
Books $1634.00
Room and Board $7373.00
Transp/Pers/Misc $1656.00
Medical N/A*
TOTAL $52642.00
Full time 3301 2L Thrifty Budget (based on 28 credits)
Tuition $40096.00
Fees $32.00
Average Stafford Fees $218.00
Books $1634.00
Room and Board $7373.00
Transp/Pers/Misc $1656.00
Medical N/A*
TOTAL $51010.00

Full time 3301 3L Thrifty Budget (based on 26 credits)
Tuition $37232.00
Fees $32.00
Average Stafford Fees $218.00
Average Bar Exam Fee $650.00
Books $1634.00
Room and Board $7373.00
Transportation $1656.00
Medical N/A*
TOTAL $42374.00
Part time 3302 Thrifty Budget (based on 20 credits)
Tuition $28640.00
Fees $32.00
Average Stafford Fees $218.00
Books $1634.00
Room and Board $7373.00
Transp/Pers/Misc $1656.00
Medical N/A*
TOTAL $39554.00
LL.M. and M.J. Budget (based on 18 credits)**
Tuition $25272.00
Fees $32.00
Average Stafford Fees $218.00
Books $1634.00
Room and Board $11400.00
Transp/Pers/Misc $3116.00
Medical N/A*
TOTAL $41672.00
D.C. Externship SS17
Tuition (based on 6 credits)  $8592.00
Fees $16.00
Average Stafford Fees $109.00
Books $742.00
Room and Board $8295.00
Transp/Pers/Misc $2448.00
Medical N/A*
TOTAL $20202.00

* The cost of health insurance is not included in the budget as most students can still be covered through their parents' insurance.  If you will be using the MSU student health insurance plan, or have coverage of another kind, then please contact the financial aid office at or 517-432-6810.  We can include ONLY the MSU plan cost in the COA.  For more information about the Student Health Insurance Plan from MSU please visit

** Excludes Global Food Law.