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Any veterans able to help a prospective law student seeking private schools?

DelcoreDelcore Registered User Posts: 50 Junior Member
edited May 2018 in Law School

I am an undergrad going into my sophomore year. I'm currently in ROTC and am considering OCS/Enlistment instead to raise my GPA, land some internships, study abroad, and to prepare for the LSAT. Eventually, I would like to use 100% of the GI Bill along with the Yellow Ribbon Program to pursue law at either NYU or Columbia. Since these are private schools and not public universities, the post-911 caps their funding at ~23k. They also only provide 20k in Yellow Ribbon benefits. That leaves me roughly around ~20k in debt for tuition at both schools. I'll also add that I am aware of JAG and the Army FLEP program, but I'd prefer to just do my Active Duty time in service and get on with my education. However, it looks like I'll be running a pretty significant deficit based upon the numbers I'm getting.

That said, are there any other options I could take with the military or with GI benefits to avoid going into debt at a private school? If anyone could help guide me in the right direction or find a pathway for me, it would be really appreciated. Otherwise, I suppose I'll just find a public university instead.

Replies to: Any veterans able to help a prospective law student seeking private schools?

  • Wje9164beWje9164be Registered User Posts: 1,255 Senior Member
    First thing to know is that merit money is more common for law schools than for undergraduate. I’m a West Point grad and it seems as if veterans fare pretty well in admissions relative to others with comparable GPA and LSAT. Performing exceptionally well on the LSAT probably has the best ROI of anything else you could do. If you want insight into a particular school’s generosity, look up their 509 report which the LSAC requires they all publish. The other thing you can do at this point is succeed in college academically. Internships and legal work will only help a tiny bit. Some law schools will offer veterans more financial support than VA would. Having said all that, it is naive to assume you won’t take on some debt. One warning - average lawyer salaries are high but there is a cluster at $60k/year and another cluster at $180k/year, if you are in the right cluster wonderful. If not good luck
  • DustyfeathersDustyfeathers Registered User Posts: 3,171 Senior Member
    edited November 2018
    @Wje9164be is correct.

    I would add that if you attend Columbia or NYU or other schools in the T10-14, you should check carefully what they offer in terms of support.

    - CU and NYU both offer excellent job placement after graduation.
    - Both offer that placement in corporate and public interest work
    - Both offer excellent networking for work as you move through your career.
    - At issue potentially is debt, as you mentioned. You would do well to contact each of the schools that interest you and ask them about debt forgiveness should you take government or PI work. The public funding for this is awful, but some private schools have their own funding to encourage students to go into PI and government work. Discovering the possibility of debt forgiveness is a matter of writing to Admissions. Some schools are quite generous and that may help you.
    - If you do corporate work, presumably you will earn enough to pay off the debt fairly soon, especially if you don't increase your spending for 1-2 years.

  • bluebayoubluebayou Registered User Posts: 25,663 Senior Member
    Military service is a great soft factor in LS admissions. But GPA+LSAT still account for ~95% of admissions, so get A's and lots of 'em.

    While both NY schools are excellent, apply broadly. If you can get close to a full ride at a 'slightly' lower ranked school (Michigan, Duke, UVa, Cornell), that is a much better deal that paying thousands to be in NYC. And yes, great numbers can mean plenty of merit money.

    Good luck, and thank you for your service.
  • HappyAlumnusHappyAlumnus Registered User Posts: 1,201 Senior Member
    I'd say that 20k in debt for NYU or Columbia is well worth it. Starting salaries at large law firms are $180k/year in NYC, and that debt can be repaid quickly. I'd also opt for Duke, Cornell or others in the top tier (Penn) over "a public university".
  • Demosthenes49Demosthenes49 Registered User Posts: 1,612 Senior Member
    @HappyAlumnus: Actually, they're mostly 190k now. (Assuming he wants BigLaw.)
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