Loan Debt

Ed. note: Gradenfreude is a new series chronicling a recent law school graduate’s life after attending an unranked school. Feel free to email the author at [email protected], and he’ll respond ASAP. After all, it’s not like he has anything better to do.

When President Obama was debating Mitt Romney, he patted himself on the back because of the strides he took to give young people the chance to get an education by making student loans available.  I guess making loans available is all that really matters, because after all, who cares about having the loans paid off? That’s the one thing that he didn’t mention: once you accept the loans, you’ll be bent over a barrel for the rest of your life — unless, of course, you’re able to become a Senator and then write a couple of best-selling books.

I think that most students realize they’ll spend the vast majority of their lives paying off the loans they took out to further their educational pursuits.  What many may not realize is just how ridiculous the government is when it comes to getting their money back.  Their tactics and terms fall just short of being classified as Mafia-like. On the bright side, if there is one, at least no one’s broken my legs yet.

Although the government may allow for a deferment for economic hardship, if you have a full time job, it’s likely that you won’t meet the strict requirements to attain that deferment.  Because even when you work a job that only allows you to live in your parents’ basement, essentially as dependent upon them as you were in high school, the fine United States government still expects timely repayment.

That’s right: I currently make too much money to qualify for an economic hardship deferment, and I work for just over minimum wage.  Earning the least amount of money per hour that I ever have in my life, I am making too much money to earn the government’s pity….

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Back in April, we brought you a story about a family who had written to Dear Abby, an advice columnist, about their child’s law school loan debt. Apparently the mere thought of assisting their darling daughter with the repayment of her $100,000+ debt load was just too much to bear. The daughter had already ruined her own life, so why should they ruin theirs too? And yet, tens of thousands of students are still willing to look this student loan debt problem in the face and laugh.

Yes, in a time where the Executive Director of the National Association for Law Placement is forced to write entire columns about the fact that there is no conceivable way he could describe the current entry-level job market as “good,” others are still considering applying to law school.

For example, today we found out that the matriarch of another family sought wisdom from an advice columnist as to whether her husband should go to law school. How did she respond? Let’s just say Dear Prudence is a little more in tune with the realities of today’s legal job market than Dear Abby will ever be….

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I had the pleasure of being at Hofstra University last night to watch the presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. I wasn’t actually in the venue where the debate itself was held, but in overflow seating with a bunch of Hofstra people. I had been invited earlier in the day to participate in a student debt discussion at Hofstra Law, and they let me hang around for the rest of the day.

I already know who I’m going to vote for. Everybody I spoke to already knew who were they going to vote for. If there were people there who were still unsure about who they were going to vote for, I didn’t notice them, probably because “undecided” voters are too stupid to walk around campus and talk and not choke on their own saliva. In any event, it was fun to watch the debate with a diverse group; everybody hears what they want to hear. Republicans heard Romney’s five-point plan to fix the economy and piss off China. I heard this:

But I’d like to think everybody heard the same thing from both candidates when it comes to student loans: a load of bullcrap….

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Ed. note: Gradenfreude is a new series chronicling a recent law school graduate’s life after attending an unranked school. Feel free to email the author at [email protected], and he’ll respond ASAP. After all, it’s not like he has anything better to do.

Hello my loyal readers — oh, and you commenters, too. A lot has happened since we last met. I had a job interview last week. How did it go, you ask? The words embarrassing and atrocious come to mind. Think about getting mugged on the way to your car, getting a flat tire in the rain, and then having your credit card declined at McDonald’s. Yeah, that would have been a much better day than I had.

Looking back at the day as a whole, I really should have known that it was going to be a bad time. First, my power went out in the middle of the night, but luckily for me, I was so excited and nervous that I woke up every couple of hours and noticed early on that I needed to turn on my cell phone alarm to make sure that I woke up. But then, of course, I couldn’t go back to sleep because my anxiety level was at an all-time high.

While I lay in bed and waited for my alarm to go off, I practiced going over interview questions in my head. My alarm finally went off, and I felt like I did before most of my law school exams: “Oh sh*t, I am not nearly prepared for this. Why the hell did I do this again?”

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In the past few months, those involved in legal academia have been going back and forth over whether the cost of law school tuition is “too damn high.” Many would argue that it is, considering the fact that even during the height of the recession, some law schools instituted across the board tuition hikes. Even now, when repeated calls have been made for reduced class sizes, law school tuition continues to rise to make up for the lost revenue those additional students would have provided.

This problem, they say, needs to be remedied immediately — before the law school tuition bubble pops — so that we can avoid additional problems down the line. Because after all, as my colleague Elie Mystal noted in 2010, “Law school tuition might be recession proof, but student debt repayment is not.”

If we continue on this way, we may be looking at some pretty scary numbers in the future….

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Ed. note: Gradenfreude is a new series chronicling a recent law school graduate’s life after attending an unranked school. Feel free to email the author at [email protected], and he’ll respond ASAP. After all, it’s not like he has anything better to do.

Whoever said, “No news is good news,” obviously wasn’t dealing with trying to find a legal job in this economy. I really wish that there was anything remotely resembling news to report on my legal aspirations, but the only thing that I’ve accomplished is mastering drinking my worries away.

This experience has made me realize that when you’re constantly trying to get something that you really want, but not having success, it’s easy to begin to doubt yourself and your abilities. Then, as a result, it’s possible that you may lower your expectations because the fear of failure takes over. But what can be really interesting is how the little things in life can change your expectations.

I’ve always been a superstitious person, and along with that, I believe that the world often gives you signs. Okay, I bet you think that sounds dumb. Well, what makes it worse is that I take my signs from fortune cookies. Before going to law school, I got a fortune cookie that said, “You are about to begin a prosperous business venture.” CHA-CHING!!! What else could you possibly need to know before taking on colossal debt?

A fortune cookie would never steer me wrong, would it?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Gradenfreude: Living Life By Fortune Cookies — Bad Idea Or Worst Idea?”

Ed. note: Gradenfreude is a new series chronicling a recent law school graduate’s life after attending an unranked school. Feel free to email the author at [email protected], and he’ll respond ASAP. After all, it’s not like he has anything better to do.

When you are unhappy with your job, you have to take joy in the simpler things in life. For me, sometimes that’s just kicking back and enjoying a relaxing evening of good television. Yes, I have a television, but I also live in my parents’ house, so technically, it’s their television. Whatever.

I planned on watching TV on Sunday night, but unfortunately, something that was said at work stuck with me. During one of my breaks this week, where I sat in a windowless back room with less natural light than a prison, I met a new employee who recently graduated from college, and we were exchanging job-search horror stories. A fellow coworker walked in and overheard me talking to about how much my current job sucked, and he retorted, “Oh, the plight of a law school graduate in 2012.”

That completely ruined my night — so much so that, when at the end of the latest episode of “The Simpsons” the characters asked viewers to submit their own ideas for the opening “couch gag,” my mind instantly went to Lisa reenacting the quest of going to law school, and the life that it can lead to in today’s economy.

This is what I submitted….

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Chris Danzig here. If you read Above the Law, well, ever, you know that we are deeply concerned about the burden of law school loan debt facing many young lawyers. The general consensus at ATL — vocalized most frequently by Elie and Staci, who each have firsthand experience with six-figure loan debt — is to avoid law school entirely, or at least know what you’re getting yourself into (and STFU when bill collectors come calling).

Occasionally, we hear about unusual approaches to dealing with debt that are undertaken by entrepreneurial — or outrageously bold, depending on your perspective — lawyers or law students. Crowdsourcing seems to be one of the new strategies.

Today, we heard from a 30-year-old graduate of an elite law school who is still living with his parents. He has turned to the internet for help paying off his loans.

I think he may be onto something, but my colleague Staci doesn’t exactly agree….

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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….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law School Loan Debt: A New Way to Walk Yourself Into Your Own Grave”

Ed. note: Gradenfreude is a new series chronicling a recent law school graduate’s life after attending an unranked school. Feel free to email the author at [email protected], and he’ll respond ASAP. After all, it’s not like he has anything better to do.

If you’re a frequent reader of Above the Law, then you’ve seen plenty of stories about the horrors of attending law school. But even so, the editors have expressed a few opinions: Elie doesn’t want you to go to law school at all; Lat thinks you should give law school a try, as long as it’s free; Staci’s ambivalent, but thinks it’s cool if you sue after you graduate; and Danzig stalks people who went to law school, so… yeah.

It’s a little confusing, isn’t it?

Perhaps you’re still unsure about what you should do. That’s why I’m here to tell you about the darker side of being a law school graduate who just so happens to be a member of the Lost Generation. I’m here to tell you about the biggest mistake I’ve ever made in my life. I’m here to tell you about going to an unranked law school….

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