Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Law school salary/debt numbers from a loan company

Interesting. https://www.sofi.com/blog/sofi-2017 -law-sch dietcoke12/01/17
Yeah, and those numbers still paint too rosy a picture. The 6figuremistake12/01/17
CSOL average 86,000 per year ......third rate law schools ar jdcumlaude12/01/17
Definitely skewed. I have a decent salary with huge debt and loblawyer12/02/17
So ... you don't have a decent salary? I refinanced and dietcoke12/03/17
Wrong. IBR is in our master promissory notes. There is no wa guyingorillasuit12/03/17
Oh poor thing. You obviously didn't get a very good educatio dietcoke12/03/17
Minority of borrowers? Fully granted my debt is an outlier, loblawyer12/03/17
Why would it hurt all that many people? Most people don’t downwardslope12/03/17
You're forgetting all the people who have $40k of debt for w loblawyer12/03/17
More people need to pay attention to this. Why aren't young soupcansham12/04/17
Agreed. The people who chose SoFi over the protections of l bsj2312/18/17
Some of those salaries seem awfully high. Are they based on barelylegal12/03/17
It's because these are individuals who can afford to pay it cocolawyer12/03/17
I'll echo what many others have said. SoFi may mean well, bu mrtor12/05/17
I’m not too worried about Congress getting rid of PLSF / I samfriedlander212/05/17
You make it sound like there's actually been a lot of admini dietcoke12/05/17
I already tried explaining it. People don’t get it. No one downwardslope12/05/17
Everyone IBR is not going anywhere. The likely result of the cocolawyer12/05/17
Says the average florida coastal grad is making 85k and owes onehell12/18/17
As stated above, it isn't easy to refinance student loans at thirdtierlaw12/18/17
Right. Half the class is probably unemployed and was exclude onehell12/18/17

dietcoke (Dec 1, 2017 - 7:39 pm)

Interesting.

https://www.sofi.com/blog/sofi-2017-law-school-rankings/

Notably, this shows what the average graduate looks like who actually wants to make an attempt at paying off their debt (i.e. they got a job). This indicates that not only do top law school graduates more consistently find employment (see, e.g., LSN data), but among those who find employment the bottom schools are still disadvantaged with lower paying jobs and higher debt (see the salary to debt ratio for different schools).

No surprise a for-profit school is the worst on the list.

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6figuremistake (Dec 1, 2017 - 8:06 pm)

Yeah, and those numbers still paint too rosy a picture. The data is likely skewed because anyone with a lot of debt and a lousy salary would be insane to apply to SOFI and give up IBR/PAYE protection with the feds. TJ Law students with salaries in the six figures are hardly representative. The sad fact of the matter is graduates from those bottom tier schools are likely to have those higher levels of debt and are also likely to have very low paying positions - making the calculus even worse. In fact, the same could probably be said for any of the schools aside from the most elite.

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jdcumlaude (Dec 1, 2017 - 10:26 pm)

CSOL average 86,000 per year ......third rate law schools are going to be using this data in their admissions advertising very soon.

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loblawyer (Dec 2, 2017 - 7:05 pm)

Definitely skewed. I have a decent salary with huge debt and wouldn't touch SoFi even if I qualified. The IBR protections are far too important for me to trade away for an interest reduction which is moot because I'm on the forgiveness/tax bomb plan as it is.

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dietcoke (Dec 3, 2017 - 12:23 am)

So ... you don't have a decent salary?

I refinanced and cut my interest from 6.8% to ~3%.

That's huge. And you're completely counting on Congress not removing/capping/otherwise modifying forgiveness.

Remember, forgiveness is not an entitlement or expectation. Congress could get rid of it the day before you qualify and you're SOL.

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guyingorillasuit (Dec 3, 2017 - 1:37 am)

Wrong. IBR is in our master promissory notes. There is no way Congress can remove it. It is not "forgiveness"; it is a material term of a contract I signed when I borrowed money. It is not in any way an entitlement.

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dietcoke (Dec 3, 2017 - 2:05 am)

Oh poor thing. You obviously didn't get a very good education for all those student loan dollars.

The MPN is a public contract. That means:

First, the federal govt has to consent to being sued. It can remove that consent at any time.

Second, even if it consents to being sued, there is the sovereign acts defense. Since no portion of the MPN unmistakably reads against future modification by Congress, this means Congress can modify it.

Finally, there's likely no Taking claim on your part. Forgiveness is not an expectation.

I guarantee you no court is going to come to your rescue when the student loan bubble starts popping and the govt is faced with either shutting down or capping forgiveness. I'd bet money forgiveness will be capped in the 25-50k range and the public is not going to feel much sympathy for the minority of borrowers who chose to make minimum payments for 20-25 years.

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loblawyer (Dec 3, 2017 - 5:52 pm)

Minority of borrowers? Fully granted my debt is an outlier, I'll own that. But something approaching or over half of all student loans are in soft default, that is not servicing monthly interest accrual. Such action by the government will hurt far more people than you're letting on.

Also, regardless of what constitutional defenses the government may have, how often if ever does it actually do that? No one is going to do business or enter into contracts with Uncle Sam if it just re writes them at will later. The party in power (I think we know which one) would also likely be punished by that nearly half of underwater borrowers in the next election.

I suppose we will see. As I write that I'm not even sure our electorate will punish the party in power for the wealth transfer that is presently occurring. But I suppose that's best left for OT.

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downwardslope (Dec 3, 2017 - 6:31 pm)

Why would it hurt all that many people? Most people don’t take out tons of GradPLUS loans. For undergrads, the amount of loans is pretty small and capping the forgiveness amount would likely help them. Who it is really going to limit is the MDs who are smart and sign up for PSLF in residency and law grads. Most of the general public doesn’t have a lot of sympathy for what they see as high paid professionals who take out tons of debt and then don’t have to pay it back.

As for the forgiveness, people who aren’t making qualifying payments can’t get forgiveness anyway. You actually have to make the 120 or 240/360 qualifying payments to qualify.

As it is, the program is not a sustainable one because most of the benefits will go to people like MDs who can probably pay off the debt. The program should be focused on undergraduate debt and have limits. This will keep the costs of tuition from going up as much as they have in the past 10 years since these programs have been introduced. I think from the time I started undergrad to the time I started law school, the cost for private education had only gone up around $5-8K in 11 years. In the 11 years since I started law school (the first year the GradPLUS was offered), tuition has gone up $22K even though the economy was terrible for a good deal of that time.

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loblawyer (Dec 3, 2017 - 9:10 pm)

You're forgetting all the people who have $40k of debt for whatever scam school they got lured into and are now working night shift at Walmart. This problem is not limited to just high paid professionals. There's a reason millennials aren't buying real estate in the numbers they should be by now; too many at all levels are drowning in student loan debt.

The popping of this bubble, when it occurs, should be fun.

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soupcansham (Dec 4, 2017 - 4:51 pm)

More people need to pay attention to this. Why aren't young people buying cars and houses? They owe too much in student loan debt and they have low-paying jobs.

Lawyers aren't immune, either.

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bsj23 (Dec 18, 2017 - 2:55 am)

Agreed. The people who chose SoFi over the protections of loan forgiveness are going to be heavily skewed in favor of those who have the highest-paying jobs--that or family wealth they know they can use to pay it off.

I won't touch SoFi.

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barelylegal (Dec 3, 2017 - 11:08 pm)

Some of those salaries seem awfully high. Are they based on applicants who successfully refinanced with SoFi? I'd be curious to see the numbers of the rejected applicants.

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cocolawyer (Dec 3, 2017 - 11:15 pm)

It's because these are individuals who can afford to pay it off in 10 years or shorter. The vast majority of individuals could not.

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mrtor (Dec 5, 2017 - 9:39 am)

I'll echo what many others have said. SoFi may mean well, but their data is inaccurate. SoFi and other private refinance companies are known for being extremely selective and risk adverse. Lower salary and higher debt individuals are far less likely to even attempt to apply. The ones who are more likely to apply will have higher salaries and lower debt, and (outside of BigLaw) are also more likely to be several years into their careers.

SoFi suggests nearly six figure salaries are the "average." Outside of major metro areas, the only attorneys I know who are cresting six figures are senior partners and owners.

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samfriedlander2 (Dec 5, 2017 - 2:03 pm)

I’m not too worried about Congress getting rid of PLSF / IBR. No administration (even Trump) has talked about retroactively changing the system - only changes for future enrollees. If they change it then I’m sure default rates will surge for student loans. I’d immediately give a middle finger to the system and pay as little as possible. I’d just pay a monthly payment every six months (avoid default triggers) or sign up for classes at a community college to put my loans in forbearance. My six figure loan won’t be paid off - can’t get blood from a stone. My credit will be screwed but I’m not paying student loans till the month I die.

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dietcoke (Dec 5, 2017 - 2:12 pm)

You make it sound like there's actually been a lot of administrations. PSLF is 2007. The first possible rounds of forgiveness are only now coming up. IBR/PAYE/REPAYE? Forget it. That's years away.

There hasn't been any need to reform the programs because they're not a problem ... yet. What IS known is that these programs are tracking to be an order of magnitude more expensive than predicted in 2007.

Politically, it's not hard to foresee a retroactive cap. Capping all the programs at $50k will keep most borrowers happy. It will mainly hit underemployed law school and medical field graduates, who are an extreme minority politically.

And your idea of just not paying won't work. The programs require a percentage of your discretionary income. If you refuse to pay, they can eventually start taking money (e.g. your tax return). You can't hide forever. And life without credit isn't as easy as you make it out to be.

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downwardslope (Dec 5, 2017 - 4:47 pm)

I already tried explaining it. People don’t get it. No one else is going to have ballooning debt to the magnitude of law school and med school grads because they are not taking out 3-4 years of gradplus loans. Undergrad Stafford loans have a lower rate. The average debt is not too high.

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cocolawyer (Dec 5, 2017 - 2:43 pm)

Everyone IBR is not going anywhere. The likely result of the extreme swing to far right politics is a swing to far left politics. When that swing occurs congress will more likely forgive all student loan debt, rather then capping the forgiveness amount.

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onehell (Dec 18, 2017 - 12:05 pm)

Says the average florida coastal grad is making 85k and owes 160.

finaid.org says that the goal is for your first-year salary to equal or exceed your debt, but that you can get by OK, as a rule of thumb, with student loan debt up to twice your starting salary. By that measure things for a florida coastal grad are not ideal, but they're doing OK.

Thing is, how can that be true? Who the heck makes 85k out of Florida Coastal? My experience is that you're lucky to make half that coming out of the fourth tier. They must be just averaging the already-small proportion of grads that actually got a job. Plus, the problem with using averages instead of medians is that one or 2 outliers (who probably got hired via nepotism or something) will throw it way off.

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thirdtierlaw (Dec 18, 2017 - 12:21 pm)

As stated above, it isn't easy to refinance student loans at a low rate unless you're established. Even if you got approved, anyone who can navigate refinancing their loans is able to navigate the IBR plans.

So it's likely true that almost all Florida Coastal grads are getting jobs paying $40k. There are also going to be a few Florida Coastal grads who join a family business or connects with a former Florida Coastal grad who is killing it as a PI attorney. There are quite a few 4th tier grads making a killing it on the plaintiff's side. Granted they probably represent .001% of 4th tier grads, but many of these 4th tier grads are forced to open up their own shop. If the shop gets lucky with a few consults or makes connections with the right union or work-yard, the referrals can come flooding in. That, now successful, the graduate may have a soft spot for where they went to law school and may give a grad from their alma mater a chance they'd likely not get anywhere else.

I went to a terrible law school. I guess it's still 3rd tier and it is slightly better than the other schools in my State. However, due to the lack of schools and it being a smaller State you see many grads from the school as partners in 100+ attorney firms. So when looking at the schools of associates you'll see a lot of T1 to high T2 schools, then a random smattering from the terrible school I attended.

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onehell (Dec 18, 2017 - 12:46 pm)

Right. Half the class is probably unemployed and was excluded entirely, and the other half has a few outliers that skew the average which is why they shouldn't use averages. Also, if they are using their own lending application data to come up with these numbers, the sample is skewed again by virtue of the fact that the people who apply to sofi tend already to be established, as you mentioned.

The point is that some schmuck might look at this website and say "hey, 85k, that's not so bad!" These statistics don't tell a prospective student what their likely outcome is. They give you a misleading measurement of a non-representative sample and despite the narrative trying to steer you away, just looking at the numbers you could come away thinking these schools aren't THAT bad. If FCL was regularly placing most of its grads in 85k jobs, I would say they were doing a pretty good job even if they were borrowing 160. Someone who starts at 85k will work their way to 150 or even 200 over their working lives. It is a bit of a stretch but not outside the realm of reason to borrow 160 to make 80. The problem is that this isn't even close to reality for the average grad from a school like this. It's more like "borrow 160 to make 40, IF you're lucky, or nothing if you're not, with an outside chance at making truly big bucks if you essentially win a lottery or are well-connected to begin with."

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