TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Law School Student Debt Rankings

2017 U.S. News LogoJD Journal, Law School Debt Rankings — Law Schools with the Highest Debt:

U.S. News and World Report analyzed the indebtedness of law school graduates in 2015, and they discovered a huge gap between the school with the highest student debt, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, and the least, University of Hawaii-Manoa. To no one’s surprise, the majority of graduates had student loan debt, but what was shocking about this list was that even the non-top ranked schools came with a heavy price tag for students.

Here are the ten law schools with the highest student debt, and the ten law schools with the lowest student debt:

Top 10

Bottom 10

Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink


A friend of mine went to Thomas Jefferson and graduated back in 2008. Surprisingly he found employment and so is considered a "success" among graduates from his class. However, he's been on IBR ever since he graduated and he owes much more money than when he graduated because his payments aren't close to the interest that accrues each month. He just came to terms with the fact that he will likely make payments for 20 or 25 years and never even touch the principal on his loans from law school. May god have mercy on the gullible rubes that enroll at Thomas Jefferson or Cal Western.

Posted by: TaxxxMan | Nov 23, 2016 6:41:24 AM

According to the State Bar of California, Thomas Jefferson's first time passage rate for the July 2015 exam (CA) was 48%. At what point should we consider the school to be a continuing violation of consumer fraud laws?

Posted by: John Steele | Nov 23, 2016 9:10:02 AM

One might point out that the sticker price for tuition and cost of living at Columbia Law (which a little birdie told me hasn't meaningfully budged in many years despite the perpetual upward swing of NYC rent) is about $91,000. Toss in interest - since no graduate federal loans are subsidized anymore - and bar exam expenses and you're easily over $300,000 before undergrad debt is factored in. According to their most recent ABA Form 509, only about 40% of their students received any tuition discounting.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Nov 23, 2016 10:13:06 AM

"will likely make payments for 20 or 25 years and never even touch the principal "

Yeah. Then hits "forgiveness" and owes about 33% of the amount owed as federal tax on "income received".


For other readers, note that the normal convention of "average indebtedness" is the total amount borrowed for law school. The actual debt on that amount, as of the time the student begins repayment, is significantly higher due to interest that starts accruing after the first loan installment is borrowed.

Posted by: The Goob | Nov 23, 2016 10:48:41 AM

I would love to see a ranking of law schools by student debt remaining unpaid after 5 years. Big student debt is less of a problem if your school funnels graduates into high paying jobs.

Posted by: Michael Zelenty | Nov 23, 2016 11:41:43 AM

Wall of Shame!

Posted by: Old Ruster from JDJunkyard | Nov 25, 2016 7:03:23 AM