We want our Miami Law students to understand the importance of maintaining your health and wellness. One facet of wellness sometimes overlooked is financial wellness. Being in control of your finances is an important part of your mental health and well-being. Controlling your finances can be the key to being in control of your destiny and we hope this page provides some tips and resources on how to maintain or develop a positive financial lifestyle.
Financial Wellness and Practicing Law
As you will likely learn, you will be required to utilize countless skills in your practice as an attorney. One of the skills most often forgotten is your ability to honestly maintain your finances. Whether you plan to work at a big firm or open your own practice, showing wise financial decision-making skills is inherent in practicing law competently. As you apply to the bar of your choice, the bar examiners may research your credit report and certain financial decisions, so maintaining your financial wellness is an important part of your journey to becoming an attorney. Balancing your monthly personal accounts is relevant to your ability to manage trust accounts in your professional life.
Maintaining A Budget
Maintaining a budget and living within your financial means is an integral part of your financial wellness. While living in the Miami area, make sure you set up a budget that properly balances your income and expenses.
Figure out your monthly income
"Income" can be defined many ways while in law school. You can have many from scholarships, financial aid student loans, part-time or full-time jobs, assistance from family, etc. If you receive your income at one time in a lump sum, be sure to calculate how much you can spend per month so you have enough money that lasts until you receive more.
Outline your monthly expenses
What do you expect to spend money on each month? Though you may not be used to tracking your expenses, it is important to have a detailed idea of where your money goes. If it helps, think about your expenses in categories:
- Housing Expenses
Housing expenses are all of the expenses related to living in your house, apartment, or condo. These may include your rent, utilities, fees your apartment charges, and your internet or cable bill.
Housing can be expensive in Miami, so be sure to find a place to live that fits your budget for the full calendar year (including the months of May-August in which you may not be enrolled in classes). Before selecting a place to live, think about the financial implications of choosing where you live and whether you should live on your own or have one or more roommates. It may make more sense to find more affordable housing with a roommate while in law school so you can get that dream apartment or house after you graduate.
- Transportation Expenses
This may include your monthly payments for car insurance, car retail or lease agreement, gas, highway tolls.
- Food Expenses
Think about the money you spend on food. This includes groceries, restaurants, fast food, or food trucks. This will likely be the category you need to adjust the most as you continue budgeting. Be willing to change your expectations and spending habits as you get a better grasp on the amount you want to and actually spend.
This may include phone bills, monthly subscriptions to streaming websites, gym memberships or any other monthly bills you pay for. Be sure to note the due date for each account.
Any payments you make for credits cards or loans. Be sure to note the due date for each account.
Though it may be hard to think about, saving is an integral piece of money management. If you are able, try to put money aside in your monthly budget for that rainy day everyone always talks about. If this is something you cannot do while in law school, saving will be very important once you are employed.
This category is for anything you expect to spend money on that does not fit one of the categories above. It may include money for you to spend on clothing, your social life, travel, or many other things. When outlining your expectations for this category, be sure to be realistic so you can live within the means of your income.
Adjust, adjust, adjust
No one ever gets their monthly budget correct on the first try. You may want to try tracking your expenses for a week and then moving on to a month so you can create an accurate budget. If you believe you are spending too much or too little in one category, always be willing to adjust. The most important piece of this whole process is having a budget that works for you and your situation. It may take some time to get there, but keep working at this process.
Avoid consumer debt whenever possible
Consumer debt (i.e. credit cards or personal loans) may be one of the biggest pitfalls young adults fall into as they begin their financial journey. Sometimes a personal loan is essential, such as in the final few months of studying for the bar exam, but this should be viewed as a last resort and used only in critical situations.
Do not factor in expenses in your budget that you would have to pay for with consumer debt. If you cannot afford it with your income, try to remove it from your budget.
Most credit card interest rate offers will be much higher than the interest rate offers your receive for your student loans. This means you will pay back more money in interest based on the amount you borrowed from credit card companies for a longer period of time.
Try to pay off your consumer debt as soon as possible by paying higher than the monthly minimum. This will help lessen the amount of money you pay the company in interest.
External resources for creating and maintaining a budget
- Monthly Budget Sheet
- Barbri 1L Budget Worksheet
- Budgeting apps and websites
The University of Miami School of Law does not officially endorse any of these apps and websites and only provides them as opportunities for students to choose from. It may be beneficial for you to search separately for a budgeting platform that best fits your needs.
Making Financial Decisions About Your Tuition
Law School Cost of Attendance and Tuition
Your Financial Aid and Degree Requirements
To obtain your JD, you will have to complete 88 credits while completing the requisite writing, skills, and ethics course requirements.
Comparing Your Tuition Costs*
To compare the amount your tuition would cost based on the semesters you choose to take classes, we have created the table below. Follow the costs based on the most up-to-date tuition and fees costs and use the tracks defined below to choose how you hope to complete your law school career at Miami Law.
Track #1—Student only attends Miami Law each Fall and Spring semester within the 11-17 credit full-time enrollment requirement to obtain the required 88 credits for graduation.
Track #2—Student attends Miami Law each Fall and Spring semester within the full-time enrollment requirement and completes one summer semester of 3 credits to obtain the required 88 credits for graduation.
Track #3—Student attends Miami Law for the Fall and Spring semester of their first 2 years and their 3L Fall semester within the full-time enrollment requirement and completes two summer semesters of 3 credits each.
Track #4—Student attends Miami Law for the Fall and Spring semester of their first 2 years and their 3L Fall semester within the full-time enrollment requirement, completes a summer semester of 6 credits, and completes their final semester as a part-time student with 9 credits.
|Amount of full Fall & Spring Credits||Tuition Cost for Fall & Spring Semesters||
Amount of Part-Time Semester Credits
|Part-Time Semester Credits||Amount of Summer Semester Credits||Summer Semester Cost**||Final Credit Cost||Total Cost|
*Note—this cost analysis is based on the 2020-2021 Tuition rates, is subject to change, and is based on the JD credit requirements without the addition of an LLM.
**Note—the Summer Semester Cost is based on the assumption the student will take out financial aid for the semester.
All in all, remember that the decisions you make with loans from your financial aid will have to be paid back. Working to keep your tuition costs down, thus lessening the amount of student loans you take out, while in law school can benefit you now and in the future.
If you plan to or are interested in working in public service after graduating, please click the link to learn more about the Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.