I came across a blog post by a lawyer asking why people are still willing to take on so much student debt to enter a depressing and shrinking profession such as law.
This lucky bastard went to law school back in the day when tuition was only $12,000 a year. If you look at some of these same state schools today, tuition costs have tripled or quadrupled. Law school is no longer a safe or good investment for anyone, even the T14 students. Like I've said before, $150k debt is still $150k debt whether you go to Harvard Law or Cooley Law. Either way, if you don't end up in Biglaw and you have that much to pay back, you are basically screwed.
I'm am a lawyer. For better or worse. I like my job. I'm not so sure I liked the route it took to get here. But I'm a lucky one. There are many entry level jobs in law that pay about $40 grand a year with horrible benefits. These are the jobs that will suck your will to live. Long hours. Living paycheck to paycheck in a studio apartment paying $600 a month on your student loans even after you've deferred as much as you can (if you were on a full payback plan you would be paying more than $1,000 a month on student loans alone). Mind numbingly boring work (reading and responding to discovery is not rewarding work). Crying about how important it is for the government to just forgive a huge chunk of your loans. We have raised a nation of imbeciles.
Does anyone know the value of a dollar any more? Does anyone realize that when you borrow $150 grand for law school you are going to be expected to pay it back?
I ran the numbers for law school and they worked well enough when I went earlier this decade, as long as I went to the state school and lived at home. I used my savings to pay my $12,000 a year tuition (on average) for the three years I was in school. I graduated with no debt. I factored in the fact that the average salary for graduates at my school was around $55,000. The numbers worked close enough. The numbers didn't work by spending much more than what I did.
I was a little shocked at the ease on which my classmates took on new debt. They lived life to its fullest--there was no sacrifice. The time to pay the piper was still years into the future. I know one person who even paid for his wife's engagement ring with his student loans. Simply incredible.
We have raised a nation of imbeciles.
Why is our society so immune to the danger of debt? Why are they unable to calculate a simple cost benefit analysis and apply that to their situation? Is it because our parents have failed us?
The guy who paid for his wife's engagement ring with his student loans is an idiot, but he should not be used as an example of the typical student loan victim. That's like using a few people who abuse the system to label everyone on welfare and food stamps as "welfare queens". We all know that is not the case, especially in this depression with nearly 20 million people out of work or underemployed. Contrary to what some well-to-do idiots in the beltway believe, these victims are not "spoiled brats' who are unemployed by choice. The same goes for most students who take out loans. They are not blowing their student loans on designer clothes and trips around the world. They are using it towards books and tuition. What kind of nation vilifies young people for getting an education? Maybe they are gullible to believe their school's employment statistics. But I don't believe someone is idiotic to invest in an education if they believe that it will open better opportunities than a high school graduate working at McDonald's.
Since a college degree is like a high school degree was to our grandparents, it is reasonable to believe that a graduate or professional degree is the ticket to better, well-paid job opportunities. For those of us who don't come from a rich family, we're damned if we don't get a higher education and we're damned if we do get an education using student loans. People need to stop blaming the students and start blaming the ABA for accrediting more law schools and school administrators who decide these outrageous tuition rates to pay their $300k yearly salary while blocking poor and middle class students from receiving an education without taking out six-figure loans. We want the same things this lawyer received less than a decade ago at a fraction of the cost. He got a break. The banks got a break. But our generation and the next generation of young people who only want an education and decent paying job are vilified as irresponsible by those before them who were privileged to receive a low cost education and good paying jobs?
And in all of this, one thing angers me more than anything: The thought of the government forgiving student loans. Actions have consequences, and the complaints of people with student loans that they deserve special treatment and sympathy because they have student loans strike a nerve. The state's legislature, in all its wisdom, has passed special loan forgiveness measures for people working for the government. Thankfully, in all its wisdom it is broke and has absolutely no funding for it. Another example of governments out of control.
I definitely have some resentment for people with huge student loans because they spend money like it comes easy (even when they're out of school). I sacrificed, I didn't go to ball games, I didn't eat out, I didn't do a lot of things they love to do. And I should be rewarded for that. My bitterness will grow if they were in some way able to weasel out of the responsibility for their spending habits.
I agree that law school is a huge ripoff and more prospective students should realize this with the proliferation of law scam blogs. I also agree that the government is enabling people because they have deals with their friends at the loan companies and for-profit schools. There are many arrogant 0Ls who believe they will beat the odds. But there are also many more students who blindly went to law school without warning believing that it would lead to a law firm, nonprofit, or government job. Most of the people my age have lived frugally, worked while in school, and received scholarships -- and they would not be in this position if schools were still charging $12k a year instead of $50k a year. Stop blaming the victim and be glad that you got out of school with so little debt. And have a little compassion for those of us who are unlucky to be part of a generation who was conned, fooled, and suckered into spending so much money on an education and graduating in a depression with no jobs.
But my ultimate point is this--people deserve to be rewarded for my sacrifices. For saving money, living frugally, for not taking on student loans. And I will be pissed off if the rules change because that makes me (and those like me) the sucker. That means I should have been doing what everyone else is. I should have been living it up on federal loans this whole time and then deferring payments.
I'm not saying I want people with student loans to suffer. I just want them to have to pay back what they've borrowed. And I want the government to stop making stupid loans for education. They are enabling all of these people.
But back on point, I'm not sure why anyone wants to go to law school. Maybe if you have a large scholarship. But at these prices, you have to realize that law schools are selling you a bill of goods. They are ripping you off.