I agree with yoyodog. I've been reading this board for a month or two and I'm sick of the T14 snobs who look down on anyone no applying to Boalt.
This has NOTHING to do with snobbiness and EVERYTHING to do with economics. For the record, I graduated from Temple University School of Law in 2006. This is a Tier 2 school with a good regional rep, but nothing special nationally.
Suppose the OP gets into Syracuse Law. The OP's LSAT/GPA aren't spectacular, but he is sort of within Syracuse's range. http://www.law.syr.edu/overview/facts.aspx
Tuition is $41,000/year
for the current 1L class. http://www.law.syr.edu/overview/facts.aspx
Living expenses (housing, food, books, supplies, insurance, transportation) are estimated to be $16,175/year. http://www.law.syr.edu/financialaid/attendance_costs.aspx
That's a total of $57,175/year
Assume that the OP receives no scholarship $, which is reasonable because his #'s are not very high for Syracuse. Assume that inflation is sufficiently low that living costs do not appreciably increase over the next 3 years.
So the OP would have to borrow about $171,525
to pay for 3 years of law school.
If the OP borrows $61,500 in Staffords at 6.8% fixed http://www.finaid.org/calculators/loanpayments.phtml
and the rest (110,025) at 8% fixed on a federal PLUS loan. This is about 7.57% interest on the total.
The finaid.org calculator says:
Loan Balance: $171,525.00
Adjusted Loan Balance: $171,525.00
Loan Interest Rate: 7.57%
Loan Fees: 0.00%
Loan Term: 30 years
Minimum Payment: $50.00 Monthly Loan Payment: $1,207.56
Number of Payments: 360
Cumulative Payments: $434,721.64
Total Interest Paid: $263,196.64
$1,200/month IS NOT a fun amount to pay off for 30 years. This doesn't even take into account that the PLUS loans accumulate interest while you are in school. It's downright awful if you get a job at a small firm making 43k/year.
Suppose further that the OP decides to work for a small firm or government office in Philadelphia, for $43,000/year. After paying federal, state, and city wage tax (4.26% as of 1 Jan 2007), OP will be taking home a meager $607.55/week, or about $2,600/month [calculated at paycheckcity.com, assumptions: single taxpayer, 2 exemptions, PA resident living in Philadelphia County].
Paying 46% of your after-tax salary to service loans is horrible. You can only get a tax deduction for $2500 in interest. And people wonder why lawyers start doing document review.