If you are considering going to law school, you would do well to base a good portion of your decision on two things: your current financial status and what your prospective financial status may look like upon graduation. With law school programs raising debt burdens near the quarter of a million dollar mark, many are wondering whether going to law school is worth the monumental expense.
The total cost of attendance at New York University tops the list of the most expensive law school programs in the country. If accepted, you can expect to pay a hefty $261,548 upon graduation. Columbia’s tuition cost is second highest at $261,212; Chicago’s tuition is third highest at $261,190, University of Connecticut (UConn) is fourth at $257,572; and Harvard comes in fifth on the list with a total tuition cost of $256,208.
The Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE), by the University of Indiana, and the American Bar Association, conducted a study. They found that an overwhelming majority of law school students will need to depend on student loans in order to finance their education. That equals about 90 percent of overall students attending law school. These students face alarming tuition rates, and growing debt.
There is also the added stress of knowing there are no guarantees of passing the bar, and securing a well-paying job in the future. The lack of financial security associated with the much too high price tag of attending a top law school can lead to high stress levels, and can even lead to burnout. Problematic levels of stress can begin to affect the mindset, health, and overall wellbeing. LawLifeline reports many attorneys have higher levels of alcoholism, and drug abuse as a result.
Law School Transparency offers information and resourced to inform the public about the variables associated with obtaining a legal education. They state, “American legal education is broken because it is systematically unfair and unaffordable.” They strongly believe the system needs to “undergo significant structural change” in order to make law school an attainable goal for any student who wants to attend.
What is the ROI for attending law school? Is it worth the time, energy, and mental strain? A study done by the Access Group Center for Research and Policy Analysis found that one out of five law school graduates between 2010 and 2015, agreed that law school was worth the investment. Sadly though, only 38 percent of law school graduates agreed they landed a good job with decent pay after graduation.
The question of whether or not it is worth it will depend on the “why.” Why become an attorney? What would it mean to you? If you are passionate about becoming a driving force for helping people, and bringing about change, then it makes sense to pursue your dream not matter the cost. However, it needs to make sense because it will cost a lot of dollars and sense for many years to come.
Do you think law school is too expensive, or do you believe it’s fair? Let’s discuss here or on Twitter @lcarterwriter.