The Best Schools for Practical Training

Teeter Totter

Salary vs. Debt: Which Schools Offer the Best Start?

“You need to spend money to make money.”
That’s what new data from U.S. News and World Report reflects. In their latest ‘Short List’ series, U.S. News examines which schools have the highest salary-to-debt ratios for new law school graduates.
Not surprisingly, graduates from the top schools earn the top salaries. Often, these salaries offset higher debt loads. For example, Stanford graduates can expect an average starting salary of $160,000, which easily eclipses its $108,391 average debt load. Graduates from Yale Law and the University of Michigan also earn $160,000 to start, yet leave school with debts of $111,961 and $117,675, respectively.
But neither of these schools have the lowest ratios. Last year, that honor belonged to the University of Texas-Austin. This year, they dropped to #2, with students earning $160,000 against $92,180 in debt. The new champion is Brigham Young University. Although graduates earned $100,000, nearly a third less than most top 20 schools, their average debt was only $56,053, nearly less than half of the debt incurred by Yale and Stanford grads. After jumping 8 spots in the latest rankings—and boosting their placement rates by nearly 20%—Brigham Young has positioned themselves for a run at the top 20 in the coming years. Interestingly, Boston College and Boston University have nearly identical salary-to-debt ratios.
So which school fared the worst? That dubious honor belongs to the Florida Coastal School of Law. According to U.S. News, graduates earned a median salary of $45,000, while bearing an average debt of $150,306. Ouch!
While these salaries aren’t adjusted for taxes and cost of living, the debt doesn’t include compounding interest either (bet Florida Coastal just breathed a sigh of relief). The salaries listed also reflect private sector jobs, which can pay anywhere from 10%-50% more than the public sector to start.
Here are the 10 best schools when it comes to a salary-to-debt ratio:

SchoolMedian Private Sector Starting Salary (2012 Grads)Average Student Debt (2013 Grads)Salary-to-Debt RatioU.S. News Law School Rank
Brigham Young$100,000$56,0531.78436
University of Texas$160,000$92,1801.73615
Boston University$160,000$110,3091.4527
Yale Law$160,000$111,9611.4291
University of Houston$127,500$89,5301.42458
Boston College$145,000$102,8651.4136
University of Michigan$160,000$117,6751.3610
University of the District of Columbia (Clarke)$45,000$34,6451.299RNP*

Source: U.S. News and World Report
Source: U.S. News and World Report