Starting your legal career with a cheap paralegal degree is the best decision you can make. You won’t be stuck paying your student loans for decades, and you won’t be forced to work in an area of law that you hate just because it pays well. By taking a few moments to find the most affordable way to earn a paralegal degree, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of career satisfaction.
If you don’t have any college courses under your belt, an associate’s degree is the quickest and cheapest way to start working as a paralegal. You can finish in two years, and some private schools offer even quicker degrees. These schools tend to be the most expensive option, but they provide individual assistance, flexible class choices and are designed for working adults. You can also attend a community college and get your paralegal degree for a few thousand dollars, but you’ll have less control over your schedule. With either option, you’ll be able to take most of your classes online at home. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, few schools offer bachelor’s or master’s degrees in paralegal studies, meaning you only need an associate’s degree to be hired.
If you’ve already graduated from college or completed a large number of credits, a certificate in paralegal studies can save you time and money. An intensive, full-time program can get you working as a paralegal in just a few months, and a part-time program can be completed in under a year. Plus, because your college experience has already included general education courses like English, your certificate program will consist of nothing but paralegal classes. You won’t have to waste time on history or science courses you’ll never use.
The cheapest way to earn a paralegal degree is by having someone else pay for it. If you already work at a law firm, your employer might offer tuition assistance to help you get a paralegal degree or certificate. Almost every large law firm offers tuition benefits to employees, but you’d be surprised what a small business can give you if you’re a good worker. An excellent paralegal is worth their weight in gold, so if you’ve excelled as a legal secretary or administrative assistant, your employer will be excited to help you become an outstanding paralegal. Check with your boss or human resources representative to find out what assistance you can get.
Scholarships and Grants
If you earn your paralegal degree from an accredited school, you are eligible for government funds to help you complete your studies. The federal Department of Education will give you as much as $5,500 per year towards an associate’s and bachelor’s degree. This money is absolutely free, and unlike student loans, you will never have to pay it back. Talk to your school’s Financial Aid Office to apply.
As a future paralegal, you’ll be expected to thoroughly research any topic your attorney needs more information about. Practice those research skills today by figuring out which financing options are the best way for you to get a cheap paralegal degree.