A single, unmarried student attended a
flagship public law school with the median scholarship offered by that
school. ... Over his
three years of law school, he borrowed $123,865. ... [A]t least a third of current 3Ls
at public schools have borrowed $120,000 or more to finance law school.
The average amount borrowed by private school graduates, of course, is
already over $124,000.
What does it mean to
borrow $123,865 to finance law school? ... [I]f you attempt to repay this loan
on the standard ten-year plan, you will owe $1,579 per month. And here’s
the kicker: The government program counsels that, using guidelines
published by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, this student
should find a job with a minimum gross income of $236,850 to support
those loan repayments! Even the students who obtain those BigLaw jobs
won’t gross that amount. ...
How can we possibly maintain access to the legal profession at these
prices? How can we provide justice for clients? How can we in good faith
enroll students in programs that will leave them financially strapped
for years -- or dependent upon taxpayer goodwill for reduced payment
programs? How can we, as scholars who value public policy, impose those
costs on the public?
We can’t. There are four steps that we, as law schools, should pursue
aggressively to address this unconscionable situation: (1) Dramatically
lower tuition, whatever that takes. (2) Restructure law school so that
students can work close to full-time while completing their studies;
there’s no other way to cover post-college living expenses for adults
who choose not to live with their parents (or don’t have that option).
(3) Publicize very clearly how much graduates will earn from average jobs after making average
loan payments. (4) Lobby Congress to guarantee reduced payment plans
like IBR and PAYE for loans that have already been disbursed, but to
repeal those programs for professional students going forward. Those
programs were never designed for professional students, and they are
coninuing to inflate the cost of professional education. As a policy
matter, the money would be better spent on almost any other line in the