New Law Grads Are Graduating With A Ton of Debt

Law grads are earning less money per year after graduation than the amount they borrowed for law school, recent data from the U.S. Department of Education shows.


As the ABA Journal reports, the median debt-to-income ratio was 1.86. That means the median amount borrowed is higher than the median first-year income by nearly 86%.

Median debt for law grads was about $110,000 with median salary only at $53,000.

“Medians are not everything, especially when the entry-level legal salaries fall into a bi-modal distribution and when different groups pay different amounts within each law school,” according to Law School Transparency. “But these numbers do provide a jumping-off point with appropriate context. Prospective and current law students planning their financial futures should consider the Education Department earnings data along with voluntary disclosures made by law schools on the LST Reports.”

Here are the schools with the highest debt-to-income ratios according to the U.S. Department of Education:

Most of the law schools that had the highest debt-to-income ratios are for-profit law schools.

Florida Coastal School of Law has faced increased scrutiny by the ABA in recent years for compliance issues.

Whittier Law School plans to close its doors by Spring 2020.


For the most part, grads from top law schools tend to earn significantly higher salaries post-grad.

“The reality is that there are two stories: the top 15 schools with median earnings above $100,000 and everyone else,” according to Law School Transparency. “The top 15 schools place a substantial percentage of their graduates in large firms jobs that pay the highest salaries. Graduates of other schools have much less access to those firms.”

Here are the law schools with the lowest debt-to-income ratios:

Here are the debt loads of the top 20  law schools (according to the U.S. News‘ 2020 ranking).

Sources: ABA JournalTipping the Scales, ABA Journal, Law School Transparency

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