Monday, May 7, 2012

The law school scam... least that's what some people on the internet call it.  And, I think they are right.  Basically, the cost of going to law school has gotten so expensive and the job market has so cratered that it literally is an unwise investment of time, energy, and -- most importantly to most people -- MONEY, to take that career route.

Which is sad, really.  My law degree, earned in 1998, has served me well, even though the degree itself likely cost me somewhere around $70,000 to earn (not to mention the three years of salary I did not earn while pursuing my degree).  Still, even with that big fat debtload, I will have paid if off within nine years (my first student loan payment was February of 2004, five and 1/2 years after graduation) and without it totally crippling my lifestyle and budget.  Not so with today's graduates.  Just take a look here to see what it costs nowadays and just imagine what the resulting student loan payments would do to your budget, dear reader.  That is, if you can even find legal work in this crappy market!

I've come to the conclusion that its just not worth the money to go to law school unless 1) you or whoever is footing the bill is independently wealthy or you get a substantial scholarship.  That's it.  That's the only reason. 

Look at the costs of UALR's law school.  You're looking at about $38,000 in tuition alone to go three years toward a JD.  You know what that equals in repayment-of-loan terms?  Well, if you knock them out in ten years, this calculator suggests that it'll run you at least $54,000, with a starting monthly payment of $455/month.  Again, this is TUITION ALONE.  That means living at home with the parents and eating their food and not needing to take out any additional loan for rent, utilities, groceries, beer money, etc.  If you need to take out another $8,000 in living expenses ($500/month rent over 12 months is $6,000 by itself, remember), you're looking at the cost of a JD at UALR rising to $94,000 to be paid out over ten years at $783/month.  That's almost $10,000/year in student loan repayments, right out of the gate and every year for ten years.

You still think its worth it?  Let's say a recent UALR grad does well for herself and gets a deputy prosecuting attorney gig here in Pulaski County, and say that she starts out at $40,000/year, which I'd guesstimate is about right for a brand-new lawyer.  Well, take 25% of the top for taxes and then the requisite $10,000 in student loan payments a year and all of a sudden she's got to spread $20,000 over the next 12 months, which is $1,666.00 a month, which is ALL she has left per month -- rent/mortgage, utilities, food, clothing, car payment, gasoline, shoes, beer money, credit card payments, whatever.  Its not exactly poverty level, but for a person with a juris doctor degree, its dangerously close, especially if you are supporting a spouse or a family.

If you are taking loans out to go to law school nowadays, you are a fool.  That is sad, but it is the truth. 

No comments:

Post a Comment