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“It’s too damn expensive.” That sentiment, expressed by a Stanford student, sums up the anxiety among law students nationally, for whom the high cost of tuition was a universal lament. And, reasoning like a true New Yorker, a student at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, complained that “even Mr. [Donald] Trump would balk at the yearly increases” in tuition. A student at George Washington University School of Law, where loan balances are among the highest in the country, believed the solution is to shorten law school: “The third year is a waste of $30,000!” A student at Boston University School of Law would like to see “a loan forgiveness program [and] more aid.” A peer at Columbia agreed, wishing the school would “give more financial aid in the form of grants and scholarships.” A fellow Columbia student suggested “lower[ing] tuition in exchange for percentage of future earnings!” But nowhere was debt a more staggering prospect than at New York University School of Law, where graduates will carry an average balance of $88,498, described by one student as “obscenely expensive” and a worry that “keeps me up at night.” Despite these daunting fiscal realities, most law students remained optimistic; only 17.7 percent nationally said they feared being trapped because of student loan obligations in unfulfilling jobs. One who did was the Columbia student who urged the school to “provide more financial aid so that people are not trapped into taking large law firm jobs.” Many students realistically saw their debts as a barrier to doing public interest law. An American University student advocated for “greater loan repayment assistance for public interest work,” while a University of Chicago student asked for outright “grants for public interest work.” An NYU student summed up the feelings of many: “I don’t need a fancy new building, just good teachers.” In other words, they’re happy to shell out the money for first-class instruction but not for architecture to match.
Law school students were asked to estimate their law school loan balance upon graduation
National Average: $60,794
Washington, D.C. $74,299
New York City $68,942
New England $65,365
Mid-Atlantic $54,964
West Coast $54,813
Midwest $51,173

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