The Law School Debt Challenge: Where The Debt Burden Exceeds $150K

Would you believe that it is now possible to graduate from law school and rack up more than $200,000 in student debt?

And that sum would merely be the average for a single school you probably couldn’t name?

Yes, it’s that bad. JD graduates of Southwestern Law School in 2019 averaged a mind-numbing $201,967 in debt. You know they were praying for Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren to win election in the past Presidential race, if only to get that heavy burden off their shoulders.

The latest data, supplied by the schools to U.S. News & World Report for its 2020 ranking, shows that the average debt burden exceeded $150,000 at 21 different schools for their 2019 graduates. These averages, moreover, are not out of the ordinary.

AT TOP TEN SCHOOLS, JD GRADS BORROW AN AVERAGE $155,300 TO GET THEIR DEGREES

Law school debt, of course, is a function of where you go to school, what scholarships you can win, and whether you want to use your savings to pay for at least part of the education. A recent report by education date.org found that $160,000 is the average cumulative debt among law school graduates. That number includes undergraduate debt as well. In general, law school students borrow $118,400 just to get their JDs. If they attend one of the top ten law schools, the average amount borrowed is $155,300. And some 74.1% of law school students graduate in debt.

The consequence of those burdens is massive. An estimated 48% of indebted lawyers have postponed or decided not to have children due to their law school debt. Another 28.8% of new lawyers decided to postpone marriage or remain unwed as a result of their debts, and 55.6% have put off purchasing property. Some 17% of indebted law school graduates choose a job that will give them a better chance of loan forgiveness than the job they actually wanted. No wonder only 23% of more than 4,000 adults who got a law degree between 2000 and 2015 say that obtaining a law degree was worth the cost, according to a Gallup poll.

Some graduates, of course, incur more debt and others incur less. A few lucky souls even manage to leave school without debt. So which law schools generate the most debt for their grads?

Read the list and weep.

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