Law Schools, Money, Reader Polls, Student Loans, UVA Law

The Decision: UVA v. Northwestern v. Minnesota (With Varying Scholarship Amounts)

Yesterday we asked you to advise a prospective law student choosing between NYU Law School, at full sticker price, and UVA Law School, at half price. You overwhelmingly voted in favor of UVA. (Some of you suggested in the comments that he try to use his UVA scholarship to wrangle some scholarship money out of NYU; he did, but NYU said no.)

Today we bring you another 0L choosing between some excellent law schools. This individual has narrowed his decision down to three places: UVA, Northwestern, and Minnesota. For those of you who slavishly adhere to the U.S. News rankings, the three schools check in at #7, #12, and #19, respectively.

So what makes this choice more challenging? The differing scholarship amounts they’re offering this candidate….

We’ll call this person Three-Way, since he’s weighing a trio of schools. Here’s his situation:

His application stats: 170 LSAT, 3.58 GPA.

Why he wants to go to law school / what he’s interested in: “I know that I want to work in litigation. I am interested in antitrust, employment and labor, all of which I have some professional experience with through my current job as a paralegal for a D.C. law firm.”

Geographical considerations: He currently works for a D.C. law firm and lives in Virginia. “I love D.C., and could see myself staying here, but I’m not married to it. Being in a major city is more important than being in any specific major city…. I know that connections matter, but I grew up in a horrible backwoods legal market and went to a small liberal arts college. I’ve worked at a firm in D.C. for two years, but my professional connections here are hardly better than I’d make in three years in law school, so I don’t think I’m losing much by picking up and moving.”

Personal considerations: He has a serious girlfriend who would relocate with him depending on where he goes to law school. He wants to be sure she has decent employment prospects. “Chicago has better job opportunities for my girlfriend than Charlottesville, and while she has said she’d be okay with either, I know she’d prefer Chicago.”

And now, the three schools and their scholarship offers:

UVA (U.S. News #7): $15,000 a year for three years, contingent upon good academic standing.

Northwestern (U.S. News #12): $30,000 a year for three years, contingent upon good academic standing.

Minnesota (U.S. News #19): full ride for three years, contingent upon maintaining a 2.5 GPA — “which isn’t the bottom of the curve, but it’s very close.” (Minnesota’s current non-resident tuition is $45,484 a year.)

Here are some thoughts from Three-Way on his decision:

I have a full ride offer from Minnesota, but Chicago and D.C. are just much more interesting markets in my book.

I definitely understand the logic with Minnesota. I am somewhat afraid of winter, which makes Chicago scary but Minneapolis terrifying. Really, though, no tuition doesn’t mean free. I’d still be looking at $50k in debt from living expenses, so I would still need to get a very good job. More importantly, in my mind, I’d be giving up three years of my life for worse odds at the future I want.

With in-state tuition and the $15K a year, UVA [wouldn’t cost me much more than] Northwestern, with cost of living taken into account. But even at an even price, I’m still not sure I could stomach Charlottesville or three years of unemployment for my girlfriend.

So, for the reasons given above, Three-Way is leaning towards taking the $90K scholarship from Northwestern, instead of the $45K scholarship from UVA or the full ride from Minnesota. Is that the right choice? State your opinion in the comments, and vote in our poll below.

UPDATE (4/12/13, 10:30 a.m.): Readers, Three-Way agrees with you. He just put down his deposit at Northwestern — and thanks you for your advice!

This 0L should go to....

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Earlier: The Decision: NYU Law v. UVA Law at Half-Price Tuition?

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