Slate.com published an article by a couple of Yale law professors today proposing a unique solution to the problem of law school grads with enormous debt and dwindling job prospects: pay students to quit school. From the article:
Law schools might analogously offer to rebate half of a student’s first-year tuition if the student opts to quit school at the end of the first year. (If the student has taken out government loans, this rebate would first go to repay this debt.) A half-tuition rebate splits the loss of an aborted legal career between the school and the student. Each has skin in the game, so students will not go to law school lightly, and law schools will have better incentives not to admit students likely to fail.
It’s actually not a terrible idea. My only suggestion would be to offer another chance for a rebate after the second year as well. Since most students expect to work for free during their first-year summer, it’s typically not until the end of the second year that students start to get an idea of what their post-grad job prospects are going to look like. If a student has a great deal of difficulty securing a paid summer job during their second-year summer, then it is very likely that same student is going to have similar difficulty securing a well-paid post-grad position.
Myself a law grad with crippling student loan debt, I was particularly excited to discover the new-ish blog, Big Debt, Small Law. The blog is written by a graduate of Seton Hall University School of Law who is, to put it mildly, extremely angry about the career/salary prospects for law school graduates from non-top-ranked schools in comparison to tuition costs. From the About page:
Today’s law school deans are the modern day “Wizards of Oz.” They know full well (perhaps better than anyone) the gruesome market and long-shot odds that their grads will soon face, yet allow personal greed to trump all tenets of honesty and fair disclosure. And no, you can’t get away with blaming the “recession” for the struggles of your grads. Not here. We graduated in 2005, at the zenith of American economic hegemony, and faced a market not significantly different from what exists today. The truth is this: Small firms in most US markets pay south of 50 K, offer minimal (if any) health benefits, and provide baptism by fire “training” at the expense of clients who can ill afford it.
News-record.com has a great human interest story on how young, college-educated adults are fairing in the current recession. As you may have guessed, the answer is, not great. The article talks about people graduating college and not being able to find a job, getting laid-off, and putting off purchasing homes and cars because of the economy. And one story in particular touches on the problem of student loans:
For my next installation in the ongoing Jobs You Can’t Afford series, I’m going to talk about Public Defenders. Public Defenders are government lawyers who work on behalf of people accused of crimes when those people cannot afford an attorney. You know the line from the crime shows, “If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you”? That’s these guys.
In this country, people accused of crimes have a constitutional right to an attorney so the job of Public Defender is essentially one of upholding the constitution. Yet this important job is becoming more and more out of reach as tuition continues to outstrip salaries. Read more…
John* was supposed to be a success story. He grew up in a middle class home in Elk Grove, CA where his father was a captain of a dredging ship and his mother worked as a chemist for the state. John was a precocious child, earning straight As throughout much of his early education. When he decided to major in history at the University of California-Berkeley, his parents were happy to help to the extent they could. He graduated in 2003 with about $5500 in student loan debt, substantial, but much lower than the national average. He felt lucky. Read more…