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Final Thoughts

The bottom line is this: if you want to go to law school, you can borrow enough money to do so. The ceiling on graduate student loan borrowing is very high—well in excess of $100,000—and there are enough loan programs out there for you to obtain the money you need. Schools like to lend money, because it brings more people and tuition money in the door and it doesn’t cost THEM anything—it costs YOU!

Therefore, you must seriously consider whether you might be “making a deal with the devil” in taking out sizable student loans. Take a look at your local newspaper or any national magazine: they are replete with stories about the mounting student loan debt of the middle class. They should be! Lawmakers, and particularly Congress, decided years ago that the best way to help citizens pay for higher education was to loan them the money to do so, and to allow each student to choose where the money would be spent. (The other alternative, used commonly in elementary and secondary school funding, is to give large sums of money directly to the institutions, not the students.)

If you borrow substantial sums of money, you should expect a reduced lifestyle upon graduation. You may be forced to take a high pressure, high paying job that you do not enjoy. You may postpone having children. You may not be able to relocate easily. There are many potential negative consequences when you accumulate massive debt. (And, just so you know, student loan debts generally are not excused if you file bankruptcy!)

That being said, law school should not be reserved simply for the children of the rich. Student loans exist for middle- and lower-income students in part so that this doesn’t happen. Student loans are there for you to take advantage of, to better yourself and eventually to obtain a higher standard of living.

The key for you, then, is to make a careful, informed decision about how important a legal career is and how much you are willing to sacrifice to pursue it. That means you should do your homework. This includes not just your financial aid homework, but more importantly the homework involved in discerning whether a legal career is for you. Know what you are getting into before you start, and you’ll be better off when you finish.

Good luck!


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