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Author Topic: No Loans vs. The Best Law School I Get Into  (Read 2330 times)

theblondeparadox

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No Loans vs. The Best Law School I Get Into
« on: February 23, 2011, 02:44:28 PM »
I have received most of my responses from law schools so far (waiting on 2 more).  While I'm ecstatic about my acceptances, I am having a hard time making a decision.  I want to attend a school where I have the option of taking out no loans (and don't have to live at home).  But at the same time, I keep hearing that I should attend the best school I get into.   Based off of those two desires, these are my options:

1.  Attend Hofstra, St. John's, or SUNY Buffalo on a great scholarship, live away from home, and have $0 in loans.

2. Attend American (at sticker, meaning close to $108k in loans), University of Georgia (still waiting on my financial aid package, but I am not a state resident so at sticker I would have $59k in loans), or, provided I get in, Indiana Bloomington ($46,500k), or Wisconsin ($76k). Living at home is also not an option for any of these schools.

I also have scholarships to Rutgers-Camden and Penn State (also would not be able to commute), but I would still have to take out $25-30k in loans.

I want to go to a great school, but the prospect of not having any loans out is extremely tempting.  Is it more important to go to a higher ranked school, or am I better off avoiding any debt?


Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

lawstudent2011

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Re: No Loans vs. The Best Law School I Get Into
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2011, 03:30:54 PM »
Is it just me, or are there about 4 questions in a constant loop on this site and nothing else? :-\

It's up to you kid, but I'd go the free ride. Others will post with why the opposit is true, and it'll be a copy&paste of the same question asked ever day for the last decade or so.  :P

MikePing

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Re: No Loans vs. The Best Law School I Get Into
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2011, 01:50:34 PM »
This is a common question.  Here is how I would decide:

(yes it is a cut and paste)  ;)

Choosing the best law school to go to, unless you get into a T5 (not even T14), depends on where you want to live and practice law after you graduate.  Check the firm websites from the region that you want to work in, and you will start to see some patterns.  Put more weight on the firms whose attorneys all seem to be in Law Review or Order of the Coif (code word for graduated top 10%).   You should get an idea from this exercise as to which law schools are well respected in your community--which is what matters the most.  For example, if you want to practice in CA, UVA is not going to give you any advantages over UCLA grads. 

I wouldn't go into debt unless you are getting into the #1 or #2 school for the region that you want to end up in. 

edobrien

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Re: No Loans vs. The Best Law School I Get Into
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2011, 07:34:09 PM »
yeah, don't put yourself into that huge of a debt. take the free education and work your way up the ladder!

BikePilot

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Re: No Loans vs. The Best Law School I Get Into
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2011, 11:14:50 AM »
As a rule of thumb I'd say don't get into debt for law school unless its HYS.  That said, $25k isn't much debt and if you like the school better it might be worth that.  I definitely wouldn't get into big debt for American. Penn State seems like a nice school from what little I've heard about it.  Temple might also be worth a look -  I had a visiting professor at HLS from Temple and he was absolutely awesome.  He's probably not representative of the faculty in general but there will be at least one world-class proff and that's something  ;)
HLS 2010

jack24

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Re: No Loans vs. The Best Law School I Get Into
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2011, 12:34:16 PM »
I feel like all of the responses above are valid.
I always try to answer this question with numbers.  I think the numbers are helpful, even though there are too many random possibilities that could possibly make them meaningless.  (e.g., what if you are first in your class and get a job straight out of Hofstra that pays 140,000 per year)

Take the total amount of debt you will have after law school and figure out the monthly payment.

For example $109,000 at 7.5% interest will generate a monthly payment of $805/month for 25 years.  (Of course the total payments would be far lower if you could pay them off in ten years.)

That figure above looks like the worst case scenario you would face. 

So if you are just looking at money, you have to decide if going to American University will get you a job that makes $805 per month more on average ($9660 a year) than the job you could get going to hofstra or whatever.

30K in loans would cost about 221/month for 25 years.  (you'd probably pay it off much faster).   So you'd have to decide if the job you'd get out of American would pay you 584 per month ($7008 a year) more than the job you'd get out of Rutgers or Penn State. 

If were certain to end up in the top 10% of your class, (no one is) then going to a higher ranked school is worth the gamble.  If you end up in the middle of your class at any of those schools, then you will have trouble getting a great job right out of law school.  Since there is no way to predict this, I would almost always recommend you take the no-debt option.

MikePing

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Re: No Loans vs. The Best Law School I Get Into
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2011, 04:33:33 PM »
If you are able to stick to the federal loans only ($20,500/yr), you can get out owing 65K or so with interest.  Federal loans have a 30 year option and you can lock in your interest rate.  When I consolidated my grad/undergrad it was about 85K.  I am now paying 261 a month until its paid off. 

I am locked in at 3% interest and would never consider paying off the loans early. 

BikePilot

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Re: No Loans vs. The Best Law School I Get Into
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2011, 09:33:12 AM »
The world has changed a lot for federal loans since undergrad (for most of us).  My undergrad loans were fixed at 2%, my fed loans now are more than triple that.  The market for student loans sucks now, the interest rates are insane and consolidation options aren't what they used to be.
HLS 2010

MikePing

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Re: No Loans vs. The Best Law School I Get Into
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2011, 09:59:11 AM »
I consolidated my wife's loans less than 2 years ago.  40K, locked in at 4%; payment 160.  The current federal rates are around 6%, but the timing of your loan determines the rate that gets locked in.