Will Law Students Ever Be Able to Repay Their Student Loans?

public service student loansIt’s no secret. Law School is expensive. Even after factoring in inflation, tuition sticker prices are still higher than ever before.

According to the US News, the average cost for private law school tuition is about $43,000 per year. In-state and out-of-state law schools charge respectively $26,200 and $39,600 per year, making student loans almost inevitable. The Wall Street Journal reports that the average J.D. leaves law school with over $140,000 accrued in debt.

Even with significant amounts of student loans, many law graduates turned to careers in public service. Why? In 2007, the United States Department of Education formulated the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF), which promised to forgive the student loans of those who were employed in the field of public service for a government / non-profit organization for ten or more years, so long as he/she makes 120 payments after October 1, 2007.

Nearly 25 percent of the nation’s workforce may qualify for PSLF. Currently, over 550,000 people are enrolled in PSLF, some of whom begin reaping its benefits this fall. However, this may no longer be the case.

This past March, the Department of Education announced that borrowers couldn’t rely on the program’s administrator to say accurately whether they qualify or not for debt forgiveness. In fact, approval letters that had already been sent by PSLF’s administrator are not binding and can be rescinded at any time. This comes after the American Bar Association sued the Department of Education when some of its own staff were dropped unexpectedly from PSLF.

PSLF is only one aspect of a multi-layered tuition issue facing law students, law graduates and law schools across the nation. What will be the resolution? As law job growth remains slow, and law school tuition rates go up, it is apparent that all sectors of our profession need to work together on a solution. Do you want to be part of the solution? Comment below on what changes you’d suggest for the student loan crisis.

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