On Law Grads’ Standard of Living and Student Loan Debt

In a recent story in the National Jurist, UNC Law is ranked #7 on the list of schools whose graduates have a high standard of living after graduation. Here’s how the study worked:

To determine standard of living, The National Jurist used median starting salaries, average debt payments, estimated federal and state taxes and cost of living adjustments for the regions where graduates were employed.

(emphasis added). I enjoy working at a school where our graduates can expect good things after they leave us.

Note the prominent location of debt (such as student loan debt) in the study’s matrix. Since finishing my (rather long) higher education, I’ve come to see more and more what an unethical hustle the student loan business is.

The Harper’s Index (my favorite resources for trivia) for this month states that by December 2011, the U.S. student loan debt will reach 1 TRILLION dollars. That’s $1 trillion that can never be discharged in bankruptcy, and usually can’t be discharged even in death, since often the parents of the student co-signed the loan–and they therefore assume the deceased students’ debt.

Financial counseling for law school education must start early. Too many prospective law students come to me about financing law school, and they haven’t given a single thought to what their total debt will be at graduation or what their monthly payments might be. Usually they resist my advice to educate themselves about student loans, lured by the notions of deferred payments and of being a lawyer.

In other words, these prospective law students assume that they will make a high starting salary as a lawyer, and therefore they needn’t worry too much about incurring student loan debt. Which brings into play the fact that the ABA is cracking down on inflated salary reporting by law schools.

My Parthian Shots:

(1) How much protection do we want to give to lenders of student loans?

(2) How can we implement better counseling for prospective law students, even when they don’t want to hear it?

See Also: On federal scrutiny of for-profit colleges’ student loan practices (Bloomberg); On the misunderstanding of lawyer median salaries (Above the Law)

About these ads