But it can be tough to commit to a program if we don't know how much it costs. One course of study I want to look at is a paralegal training cost.
I will provide sample tuition fees from universities around the United States, and I will also sample set of fees to become a paralegal online.
Also, if you are not 100 percent sure this is the career for you, you can take a short, free, online paralegal training course to give you an idea. We'll look at the freebie first.
Paralegal training online for free?
You won't get your entire paralegal training online free, but you can get a introductory, short mini-course from the American Institute for Paralegal Studies to find out if an online paralegal education is right for you.
One item to keep in mind: This is a way to see if an online education will work for you.
When choosing a school, you want to make sure that it is ABA approved, which makes sure your education is standardized. This brings us to ABA approved paralegal programs and their costs.
Private school cost example
Brick and mortar universities offer reasonable priced programs and on certificate programs. Universities will cost more than community colleges or career colleges.
My first sample program is the paralegal studies program at Loyola University in Chicago. This is a post-degree certificate in paralegal studies, which means you need a minimum of an bachelor's degree.
For the 2013-2014 year, each credit hour at Loyola is $620, which is around the average price for a private school.
They also have a student fee and a technology fee; both are dependent on how many credit hours you take. Also, three courses require a $55 Lexis Nexis and Weslaw computer database service fee.
The certificate curriculum at Loyola requires 22 credit hours to graduate with a paralegal certification. The courses are in 8-week blocks. If you took 5 credit hours for two semesters and two semesters with 6 credit hours, your cost for tuition would average about $3,600 each semester.
- 22 credit hours: $13,640
- Student activity fees: $324
- Technology fees: $284
- Lexis/Westlaw fees: $165
Don't let the cost scare you. Loyola, like other schools, does offer scholarships and financial aid.
Many students are already working in the field and choose to start a new career, which is why they undertake the additional training.
Also, this sample cost above does not include transportation, books, and living costs; it is only for tuition.
Community college cost example
If you want to complete a program at a community college, your tuition will be much less -- even in Chicago.
I want to use Wilbur Wright College as an example for tuition.
You can get an associate in applied science at Wilbur Wright College; it requires 63 credit hours -- 39 of which are core paralegal courses.
Many folks may already have the general education requirements met and only need to focus on the core legal assistant courses.
But even if you have no college experience, you can complete this program in two years and with a tuition cost of around $6,500.
Wright charges $89 per credit hour for those who live in their district. Every semester they levy an activity fee ($85); registration fee ($30); and -- if you take web-based courses -- and an online fee ($50).
- 63 credit hours: $5,607
- Activity fees: $340
- Registration fees: $120
- Online fees: $200
Also, books, living expenses, and transportation are not listed; this is just a sampling of tuition costs.
Remember, this assumes you don't have a degree. If you have one, your cost will be less because you won't need the general education courses, which totals 24 credit hours.
Is it worth it?
The value of an education is worth it. After you complete your course of study, you will be prepared to work in a law office or government agency as a legal assistant.
If you think in terms of salary, the median wage for a legal assistant in Chicago is $50,109, according to salary.com.
If you borrow $6,500 in loans for your education at a community college and earn $50K a year, that education is paid off in 10 years at a cost of $55 a month.
If you borrow $14,500 in loans for your education at a community college and earn $50K a year, that education is paid off in 10 years at a cost of about $121 a month.
Either way, you still earn good money -- even if there is a small cost for the education.
I hope this information about paralegal training cost has been useful.