Law School Student Loans Could be on the Rise

With enrollment in law schools lowest since 1973, law schools are struggling to boost their enrollment.  One tactic is lowering the requirements to get in.  In order to apply for most law schools, graduates must take the LSAT (Law School Admission Test) and obtain a set score.  Scores on the LSAT range between a low of 120 and a high of 180.   Typically, American Bar Association Law Schools would accept the average score of 150 or better, and 5 years ago, none of these schools had a median LSAT score of 145 or less, now seven of them do.  “For students, the risk is not just time but money. Students with lower LSAT scores pay more to attend law school than students with higher scores…two-thirds of students with scores below 150 are paying more than $30,000 a year for law school, but they may not pass the bar and have ‘limited employment opportunities through which to recoup their investment in a legal education.’  The average student who scored 155 or higher pays less than $30,000 a year, attends a better-regarded law school and has better chances after graduating.”  (Lowering the Bar, January 16, 2015, Ry Rivard

 What does these mean in terms of bankruptcy and the economy?  Well, student loans are non-dischargeable in bankruptcy (meaning: THEY DON’T GO AWAY!), in most circumstances.  So, now, Law Schools across the country are encouraging more students with less likelihood of employment in their career to take on more student loan debt.  The result, disastrous financial consequences could result.  These law school graduates, who may not pass the bar and be able to work in their desired field, now have debts they cannot repay or afford.  Student loan debts have already soared in the past few years, and defaults have been at an all-time high.  These decisions by law schools to add leniency to their acceptance standards adds to the problem.

 Congress has been pushed by several groups, NACBA (National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys) being one of them, to review to Bankruptcy laws on student loans, especially private student loans.  With admissions practices playing a role, it may be that the view point needs to be widened to include not only lending practices, but the push for higher education, without regard to the actual future costs to students and future generations.

© Roxanne M. Alhejaj, Attorney at Law

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