If you could think of one word to describe your law school experience what would it be? Stressful and difficult are two words that may come to mind. However, if I could wrap my entire law school experience into one word it would be, expensive. As if the $50,000 a year sticker price wasn’t sufficient to keep me indebted for the remainder of my life, the added reality of paying for an expensive bar course upon graduation, only added salt to an open wound. There’s no secret that there are now a variety of bar prep courses that offer deals that serve to benefit the diverse pockets of bar exam takers, but let’s keep it real, the idea of paying any additional cost to actually become a certified attorney is enough to agitate any law school graduate. If you’re frustrated, you’ve come to the right place. While there are only a few ways in which you can reduce bar prep costs, I’ve put together some tips and tricks that you can use to make this process a lot more affordable. Although I will be focusing on Barbri, Kaplan and the Themis bar review courses, please consider applying any of the below tips to your bar review provider of choice.
1. Enroll Early
Enrolling in a bar prep course early is perhaps the most popular way to reduce bar review costs. Most bar prep courses offer prospective students a major discount if they commit to that course early. For example: Barbri, which has a sticker price of $3695, is offering students a discounted price of $2695 through November 3rd. Kaplan also has a similar special in place through the end of October, in which they’re offering $1000 off their regular price for early enrollment. Early enrollment offers the peace of mind of knowing which course you will take way ahead of time, while relieving some pressure from your pockets. The best part about this option is that you’re not required to pay the full cost up front. Early enrollment simply means that you’re locking in your commitment to your selected bar prep provider, and you will likely just be charged a small enrollment fee which will be added to the cost of your course. You usually won’t be required to pay the balance until much closer to the start of the course.
If you’ve missed any of the specials I’ve discussed above based on the time you’re reading this article, speak to a bar review representative ASAP and find out which deals are currently available. Usually specials are offered throughout the year. However, the discounts decrease as it gets closer to the start date of the bar course. So enroll quickly!
2. Get Involved on Campus
Getting involved on campus is another great way to cut down on bar review costs. There are a variety of student organizations and student representative positions that could greatly benefit you. For example, if you become a student representative for a bar review company, you could receive an entire course for free. Yes! Absolutely free! Barbri, Kaplan and Themis all provide this incentive, and as long as you fulfill all your recruiting requirements you can receive the golden ticket to a $0.00 bar review cost. However, keep in mind that you can’t fulfill these requirements overnight. You may have to be a representative for at least two years before being eligible to receive a free course. Therefore, sign up for this option as soon as possible.
Also, don’t underestimate the possibilities that can come about by being involved on campus. During law school, I was an active member of BLSA and each year an exceptional BLSA member was awarded a free bar prep course. Organization leaders on your campus may have the power to coordinate such an incentive with bar prep providers so don’t sleep on this opportunity and get involved now!
Themis also offers a $100 discount if you’re a member of Phi Alpha Delta or a member of the Military Spouse JD Network. During my 3L year, I also recall the Themis representative offering discounts to students who were involved in Law Review and Moot Court. Your campus representative will be able to point you to any special discounts that may be available to you based on your campus affiliations.
3. Use A Payment Plan
Another cost effective way to assist with bar prep fees is through a payment plan. Kaplan, Themis and Barbri each offer payment plan options that allow you to break your payments up into manageable amounts. This is a great option if you don’t have all your funds available up front and need additional time to get it all together.
Kaplan offers an installment billing program that allows students to break their payments into three installments over a 60-day period.
Themis offers a payment plan through which students can make an initial payment of $500 then the remaining two payments over a course of 30 days.
If you need more time to pay and don’t mind paying low interest, Barbri offers the option to finance your payment through Affirm. This option, which allows students to make small payments over the course of 12 months, is available to customers who are approved upon a credit check.
4. Bill your Firm
Finally, if you want to save on bar prep costs, you have the option of billing your firm. Of course, this would require you to already have a job in place at a firm that is willing to make that commitment. However, if you are do receive a job offer prior to graduation, you should definitely determine whether that firm will cover your bar prep costs up front.
Also, be sure to consider self-studying as another cost-effective bar review alternative. Not sure where to start? Check out our Bar Exam Self-Study Program and our Brainy Bar Bank. These are two excellent resources that will be sure to get you on the right track.
Hope these tips save you from breaking the bank!