Law Schools, Money, Student Loans

Law School Loan Debt: A New Way to Walk Yourself Into Your Own Grave

Should you go to law school? Is it worth the debt? These are reader questions that we encounter (and answer) all the time, but now that mainstream media sources have caught on to the fact that law schools are facing an existential crisis of sorts, they’re all beating the same drum we’ve been beating for years here at ATL.

You may remember David Segal’s popular series on law schools that ran in the New York Times. The Wall Street Journal has also churned out many articles detailing much of the same subject matter. Now, another reputable news source is running a series called Remake America, which covers the gamut of “issues and challenges affecting millions of Americans.” Apparently one of those issues is whether going to law school is worth the debt associated with the degree.

And let me tell you we were shocked, just shocked, to find out the recent college graduate asking for assistance had absolutely no idea how much loan debt she might incur if she enrolled in law school….

Here’s the summary from Yahoo! News on the video clip featured below.

Kaitlyn is a 22-year-old college graduate. Kaitlyn wants to attend law school as the way to advance her ambitions for public service. But she’s hesitant to take out more student loans after her undergraduate degree left her $40,000 in debt. Finance expert Farnoosh Torabi talks to Kaitlyn about how to ensure she achieves her professional goals without ruining her financial future.

You see, Kaitlyn’s asking for help because she really wants to go to law school — but not because she wants to be a lawyer. She would “be the happiest person alive” if only she could work in politics and government, and she thinks that “law school is a necessity” for her career goals. Oh sweetie, how wrong you are.

Take a look so you can get a better sense of what we’re actually dealing with here:

It costs how much?!

The best part of this video, by far, is when Torabi informs Kaitlyn that law school is “really expensive,” and by that she means that the average student will end up paying about $100,000 to $120,000 just to attend. Just check out Kaitlyn’s reaction to those numbers. Apparently she wasn’t aware that she’d likely be adding six figures to what she’s already got in her loan debt till.

It just goes to show that no matter how many times we harp on these important issues, there will still be people who just don’t get it. Or, in the alternative, they’ve heard all about it, but they’ve chosen to disregard the information because they think that they’ll somehow be able to rise above the fray. You really gotta love that personal exceptionalism! Tell us again what a special little snowflake you are when you’ve got $160,000 in student loan debt and you can’t even afford your IBR payments.

But at least Torabi’s words seemed to have an impact on Kaitlyn: “Hearing these numbers — it makes me feel like I’m about to walk myself into my own grave.” That’s exactly what you’d be doing. Do you have any idea how much it sucks to pay off your loans with near-slavish dedication, only to see that you’ve barely made a dent in the humongous total amount? It’s incredibly disheartening.

Torabi concluded with this piece of brilliant advice:

“Is this degree absolutely necessary? Keep in mind, when you go to law school, you’re going to be prepared to be a lawyer, not a politician.”

We sincerely hope that Kaitlyn will consider these wise words when she makes her decision, instead of allowing herself to be guided by the voices of the 42 percent of Yahoo! News poll respondents who think that she should continue on her merry (albeit debt-laden) way to law school to become a politician:

Forty-two percent of these people still think that Kaitlyn should go to law school. Dear. Lord. Let’s get some responses from people who are actually in the legal field. What do you think about Kaitlyn’s dilemma?

Should Kaitlyn go to law school?

  • No. She should go to politician school instead. (91%, 1,513 Votes)
  • Yes. The employment market for recent grads is just fabulous! (9%, 154 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,667

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Episode 22: Is my degree worth my student debt? [Remake America / Yahoo! News]

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