Your financial prospects
Nearly 9 out of 10 third-year law students advise those considering law school to consider an institution's financial aid package before enrolling, reports Kaplan. That's because how much you borrow will largely determine where you work after graduation.
Median starting salaries at law firms clock in at $90,000 per year -- a 28 percent drop since 2008 -- but not every lawyer is bringing home the big bucks. Median salaries at public interest organizations hovered at $44,600 annually, while judicial clerks and government employees earned $52,000. That's barely enough to cover the $558 monthly student loan payments public law students face if they borrow the average $76,000 in loans at an 8 percent interest rate over a 30-year period. On the flip side, the median salary at large firms is $160,000.
The good news is that more than 100 law schools offer loan assistance and forgiveness incentives, reports Equal Justice Works, and public interest workers may be eligible for accelerated federal loan forgiveness. Scholarships also abound, but read the fine print, warns McEntee.
"Oftentimes scholarships come with stipulations, and stipulations are difficulties," he says.