I am an undergraduate student in the US, and have come up with a (hopefully) patentable idea independently of my studies. The upside of that is the university cannot claim any rights to my invention; the downside is that I cannot take advantage of the university's legal help for navigating the patent process.
I have no prior experience with filing patent applications, and only know what I've found through websites and talking briefly with an academic adviser. From what I have learned so far, anybody can file a patent by themselves, but it is likely that either a) it will be rejected, or b) the patent will be granted, but might be worded such that workarounds could easily (and technically legally) be executed based on the idea of the patent with a different implementation.
Some quick research into law firms and individual lawyers specializing in patent law in my region shows that it could easily cost me up to $10,000 just to get an application filed, and that's without any guarantee of it actually being accepted. As a college student, I can't really afford that cost.
Are there any practical and affordable options for individuals who have little to no patent experience and coincidentally have little to no capital? Are there reputable sources of advice/guidance that are cheaper than a full-fledged law firm that can still guide the writing process? Alternatively, is it possible to write a patent application oneself without legal assistance?