I Get By With a Little Help from My Friends (in the Financial Aid Office)
Unless you have been living in a cave for the past few years (feel free to write your personal statement about the experience if you have),
you have probably read at least one of the several hundred articles, op-eds,
and blog posts written about the implosion of the legal job market and law
school "scam." In case you have managed
to miss the weekly proclamations of lawmagedon in The New York Times, the gist of most of these pieces is that choosing
to go to law school is a financial decision akin to using your checking account
and credit card to secure that princely inheritance waiting for you at a bank in
Those of us in the Admissions Office do not believe the end
is nigh for the prospects of lawyers entering the job market, particularly our
graduates; we wouldn't be in this line of work if we did. However, the realities of the current legal
job market have served to underscore the magnitude of the financial impact of
attending law school and highlighted the importance of being a savvy financial
aid consumer. After three years and
$100,000+ in non-dischargeable debt, you do not want to find yourself in a
position where you regret your decision to attend law school.
Key to helping our prospective students, current students,
and alumni understand and cope with the financial realities of attending law
school is the YLS Financial Aid Office. When
the Office isn't busy handing out piles of free money through our need-based
scholarships, summer public interest funding, and loan repayment assistance, their
time is spent addressing the distinct needs and questions of these three
Is this scholarship offer from another school as good as it
appears to be? Should I be afraid to
take on all of this debt? How do I apply
for loans? How much is this $3,000
laptop going to cost me in the end?
With the proliferation of full-tuition merit scholarships and "loan-free"
financial aid policies at top undergraduate schools, many prospective YLS students
are encountering educational loans for the first time. Our Financial Aid Office educates prospective
students on the general loan process and loan terminology. The Office also helps prospective students understand
their YLS aid offers and gives them guidance and advice on how to compare their
YLS offers to offers they may have at other schools. If a prospective student decides to come to YLS,
our Financial Aid Office walks students through the financial aid process
step-by-step, helps them understand the different types of loan products
available, and advises them on how much money they should be borrowing to meet
their needs in the coming academic year.
I'm getting bombarded with offers from lenders, what are my
best options? Can you help me budget? Can I borrow more money? How do I repay my loans if I decided to
Given YLS's relatively small size, the Financial Aid Office has
the ability to work with current students on a very individualized basis to
develop both short-term (living on a budget while in school) and long-term (multiyear
loan repayment) plans. Resources offered
to current students include assistance with applying for outside scholarships,
advice on budgeting and making the most of loan and scholarship dollars, and
help calculating what impact summer employment and other life events may have
on their financial aid packages.
This academic year, the Financial Aid Office introduced a
popular Financial Literacy Lunch Series.
The Series includes interactive workshops on a variety of financial
management topics presented by experts in the field. Programs targeted at
first- and second-year students focus on effective budgeting, strategies to
minimize loan borrowing, and the benefits of maintaining good credit.
Workshops for third-year students assist with their transition from YLS with
sessions focused on choosing the right federal loan repayment plan specific to
their needs, effective participation in our own loan repayment program, COAP,
and an overview of "real world" finances (retirement, insurance, investment
Third-year students can also take advantage of comprehensive exit
counseling sessions offered by the Financial Aid Office. In these sessions students' entire loan portfolios
are reviewed, their projected loan payments under the various federal
repayment plans are compared, and their estimated COAP support is graphed over
a ten-year eligibility period. Third-year students can also take
advantage of a complimentary consultation with a financial planner to discuss
their broader fiscal strategies beyond their loan repayment.
Can I re-enroll in COAP?
I'm thinking about changing careers; what does this mean for my
loans? How can I save for retirement, have
children, and still repay my loans? Does
this new federal repayment program make sense for me?
Our students' access to the resources of the Financial Aid
Office doesn't end at their commencement ceremonies. Because of YLS's commitment to supporting our
graduates' career paths through COAP, the Office naturally keeps in close
contact with our alumni through COAP's ten-year eligibility period. Additionally, graduates are encouraged take
advantage of the advice and support offered by our Financial Aid Office to
discuss the effects of changes in life and financial circumstances on their
Law school still makes sense for a lot people and our students
have weathered the legal employment hellscape especially well. You just need to understand fully the
financial responsibility you're taking on and equip yourself with the tools to
navigate the financial realities of being a law student and lawyer. You can survive the lawpocalypse with a
little help from your friends in the YLS Financial Aid Office.