(Image via Getty) You may have heard that three law schools — Columbia, Stanford, and the University of Chicago — reported that their cost of attendance for the current academic year exceeds $100,000. And some of their peer schools are coming close.
Their numbers are based on tuition, fees, and estimated living expenses. These three schools are in some of the most expensive cities in the country. And since they attract students nationwide, I doubt many of them are living with nearby relatives who will provide free food and a place to sleep.
Assuming these students fully finance their law school education with federal loans at a 6-7 percent interest rate, along with undergraduate debt, they will likely graduate with $400,000 in debt. You will need to pay around $4,500 per month to pay it off in 10 years. Or around $2,600 per month to pay it off in 30 years.
The fact that these three schools cost this much shouldn’t be a cause for concern. A good portion of these students will not leave with debt that high. Some come from wealthy families who will pay the tuition up front. Others will have substantial scholarships. And others will pay down their debt with their summer associate salaries at a major law firm. Or all of the above.
Even if they have that level of debt, it is assumed that most will land a high-paying job at some point in their careers and will eventually pay it off while living comfortably.
And some people will gladly get into this level of debt as they consider a law degree from one of these schools to be a status symbol.
What is worrisome is that other law schools will follow suit because they can claim they have to in order to stay competitive. Most schools have been gradually (and quietly) raising tuition every year. And it’s not always the schools’ fault. There are some costs that schools cannot control such as off-campus housing. And inflation plays a role.
But when word gets out that a school costs six figures per year, it crosses a psychological line. People will […]