Debt (So you think you want to go to law school?)

The Miami Herald recently ran a story about how hard it is for public interest lawyers to pay their law school debt. Boy, do I feel that pain. Here are the numbers, for the record:

  1. Total debt as of April 18, 2007 (it grows every day w/interest): $171,568.01
  2. Monthly take-home at $43k/year: $2311.84
  3. Monthly loan payment: $1134.21
  4. Remainder for living expenses (including rent, car payment, credit card payments, food, and entertainment): $1177.63
  5. Effective annual salary after loan payments: $14,131.56

If you think that doesn’t sound bad, add up your monthly bills and see how close you are to $1100. I know lots of people live on less, but it’s not super-fun. And can I just say that credit cards are evil? That’s what’s going to kill me, I swear.

On the bright side, GW has a Loan Reimbursement Assistance Program (LRAP). That is, in fact, one of the reasons I decided to go to law school there in the first place. Now, if all goes well (meaning the program has enough money for me, they decide to give me some, and their calculations come out the same as mine), that program should reduce my monthly loan payments to $532.58. That’s still a lot, but way, way better.

The point of this post is give prospective law students an idea of what law school debt really looks like once you start paying it back. It could be worse, but it’s definitely not pretty. If you’re thinking about taking on massive debt for law school, I’m not saying it’s not worth it, but I am saying that you should listen to the advice you’ll hear over and over and over again: Scrape by on the lowest amount of borrowing you possibly can, and, no matter what, don’t charge up your credit cards! Also, if you think you might want to work for the public interest, go to a law school w/an LRAP—it just might make the difference between a little pain and a lot.
[tags]loans, lrap, gw, debt[/tags]

6 thoughts on “Debt (So you think you want to go to law school?)”

  1. Yikes. I thought I had it bad with $110k in loans and $650/month (for the next 30 years!).

    It’s a shame, really, that this kind of debt is such a burden, and forces lawyers who otherwise would want to do public service work into law firms.

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