As a new crop of prospective law students studies vigorously for the Law School Admission Test in pursuit of high scores, there’s another set of figures they should keep in mind.

Avoiding burdensome debt and securing a good chance at a lucrative job should be high on applicants’ lists of “must-haves” from the law schools they choose.

A handful of Texas law schools have landed on national magazines’ lists of affordable, best-value legal education institutions for those reasons. By studying the way that such publications scrutinize and rank law schools for affordability, applicants can glean insight about their possible financial futures at the law schools where they apply. Texas Lawyer has combed through a variety of records to pull together important metrics to help prospective Texas law students to analyze the affordability of Texas law schools.

The metrics that stand out in national rankings are: An average law graduates’ debt load—less is best. Looking at a law school’s annual tuition and living expenses can bear on the expected debt figure. Also important are the law school’s bar passage rates and employment rates, which tell the odds that a graduate can land a legal job. Finally, applicants should consider each law schools’ average starting salary for graduates, which can help them understand how tight their budgets will be when they’re repaying their student loans.

For example, The National Jurist, a magazine about law schools, reported in its 2017 Best Value Law Schools list that law schools must keep a student’s debt manageable, and provide a quality education, so students pass the bar exam and land good-paying jobs. The magazine looked at all of the nation’s 200 law schools and several Texas schools landed on its list. It ranked Texas Tech University School of Law at No. 25, giving it an “A” grade. The University of Houston Law Center was No. 31 and The University of Texas School of Law was No. 39, both earning an “A-” on the list.

Student Loan Hero, a website that reports on student loan issues, studied 116 law schools to find the most affordable programs based on tuition costs, indebtedness and post-graduation employment rates and salaries. A couple of Texas law schools made its list for affordability: Houston came in at No. 5, Texas was No. 6, and Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law was No. 49.

When judging the metrics of Texas law schools, it’s helpful to compare them to the national average, which Student Loan Hero reported in its survey about the 2016 to 2017 school year. The average law school’s annual tuition is about $36,100 and most law school graduates end up with $111,800 in debt. An average law school’s employment rate is 87 percent and a typical graduate’s starting salary is $73,700, said the website.

Here’s the gold standard: At Student Loan Hero’s 20 most affordable law schools, a student paid an average of $25,400 in annual tuition, finished with $83,200 in debt and landed a job paying $78,600, creating a debt-to-income ratio of 0.94.

Below is all of the important data points about Texas law schools to help applicants envision their finances after graduation. Most of this information came from the schools’ 2017 disclosures to the American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, the body that accredits law schools. Information on average debt and median grant amounts came from U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 Best Law Schools rankings. Data about a school’s average starting salary came from the school’s reports to The National Association for Law Placement, which some schools voluntarily post to their websites—while others refuse to share salary data. Some schools’ salary data was only available for 2016, while others provided Texas Lawyer with 2017 graduates’ salaries.

Schools are listed in alphabetical order.

Baylor University School of Law in Waco

Average debt of 2017 grads: $91,679

Average 2017 starting salary: $95,324

In-state tuition: $60,050

Living off campus: $19,341

First-time bar pass rate: 92%

Employment rate: 95%

Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law in Dallas

Average debt of 2017 grads: $131,711

Average 2017 starting salary: $105,585

In-state tuition: $52,586

Living off campus: $26,100

First-time bar pass rate: 84%

Employment rate: 92%

South Texas College of Law Houston

Average debt of 2017 grads: $123,715

Average 2017 starting salary: N/A

In-state tuition: $31,500

Living off campus: $21,900

Students receiving grants: 54%

Employment rate: 78%

St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio

Average debt of 2017 grads: $116,635

Average 2017 starting salary: $69,248

In-state tuition: $36,310

Living off campus: $20,684

First-time bar pass rate: 79%

Employment rate: 82%

Texas A&M University School of Law in Fort Worth

Average debt of 2017 grads: $122,562

Average 2016 starting salary: $69,665

In-state tuition: $28,504

Living off campus: $29,214

First-time bar pass rate: 81%

Employment rate: 82%

Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law in Houston

Average debt of 2017 grads: N/A

Average 2017 starting salary: N/A

In-state tuition: $20,418

Living off campus: $20,986

First-time bar pass rate: 60%

Employment rate: 81%

Texas Tech University School of Law in Lubbock

Average debt of 2017 grads: $82,355

Average 2017 starting salary: $67,457

In-state tuition: $22,996

Living off campus: $16,059

First-time bar pass rate: 84%

Employment rate: 84%

University of Houston Law Center

Average debt of 2017 grads: $92,899

Average 2017 starting salary: $99,011

In-state tuition: $31,021

Living off campus: $16,584

First-time bar pass rate: 84%

Employment rate: 87%

University of North Texas Dallas College of Law

Average debt of 2017 grads: N/A

Average 2017 starting salary: $85,038

In-state tuition: $8,748

Living off campus: $19,334

First-time bar pass rate: 68%

Employment rate: 91%

University of Texas School of Law in Austin

Average debt of 2017 grads: $100,312

Average 2017 starting salary: $119,377

In-state tuition: $35,015

Living off campus: $20,579

First-time bar pass rate: 89%

Employment rate: 91%

Angela Morris is a freelance journalist. Follow her on Twitter at @AMorrisReports.