What should I do? UCLA/Public Interest question

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devonwhitham
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Nov 08, 2009 11:05 pm

What should I do? UCLA/Public Interest question

Postby devonwhitham » Sat Apr 24, 2010 1:17 pm

Hi friends. Here's the deal--I plan on practicing public interest law, most likely some sort of immigration/labor advocacy work. I'd also love to clerk for a while out of law school. I have been admitted to UCLA's David J Epstein public interest program, and I absolutely love the looks of that school. I'm also really excited about their Critical Race Studies program. My sister will be starting a PhD program at UCLA next fall and my mother recently moved to LA and I could live with her to save some money. I went to undergraduate school in Los Angeles, and worked there for two years afterwards, so LA is as close to "home" as it gets for me these days. I would be VERY happy to live/work in Los Angeles or other parts of California after law school. So, financial issues aside, UCLA is pretty much my dream law school.

That said, they only offered me $1,100/yr. I'm hoping I can still qualify for in-state tuition all three years (I've been living/working in DC for close to a year at this point). When all is said and done I could be looking at anywhere from 150k to 210k in debt (depends on if i qualify for in-state the first year, and if I live with my mom and how frugally I live). I've looked into UCLA's LRAP program and starting next year you must be enrolled in the federal IBR program to qualify for it. That means that I would have to commit to 10 years working for a 501c3 or the government. I would really rather work for a partisan advocacy organization or labor union, which are not covered under the IBR loan forgiveness program.

I also received a 15k/yr scholarship at Fordham which doesn't really matter because between NYC cost of living and in-state tuition at UCLA it doesn't make it significantly cheaper for me. I am waitlisted at Berkeley, and I am STILL waiting to hear back from NYU and Cornell. But assuming that I don't get into NYU and do get into Cornell but without significant $$, I don't know what to. I really don't know that I can stomach that much debt from UCLA. I'm thinking I need to either reapply next year with a slightly higher LSAT score (not guaranteed, I got a 167 and my practice tests were ranging from around 168-172) to better schools with better LRAP programs (NYU, Berkeley, Yale, Harvard, etc.) and worst schools where I could get significant scholarship money or I need to do extremely well my first year and try to transfer to one of those schools with better LRAP programs. I'm also thinking I could apply to a bunch of outside scholarships, but it's too late to do so for 1L.

I know this is long and drawn out, but I'm feeling so conflicted. UCLA requires a deposit in a week and I SO want to go there, but looking at the numbers I don't know how to justify it. Any advice?

yeff
Posts: 333
Joined: Mon Dec 07, 2009 2:32 pm

Re: What should I do? UCLA/Public Interest question

Postby yeff » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:04 am

How extensive was your LSAT preparation?

What is your current employment situation/opportunity cost of waiting another year?

Grad09
Posts: 94
Joined: Sun Aug 23, 2009 10:17 pm

Re: What should I do? UCLA/Public Interest question

Postby Grad09 » Tue Apr 27, 2010 4:54 pm

If you are set on PI, I don't know why you are worried about debt.

You won't have much of a monthly payment, and you won't have any in ten years regardless.

You don't have to pay for COL in LA, plus its where you want to be, plus (since I'm biased right now) UCLA is amazing.

If you have a really good GPA and can get your PT range in the 170s consistently, then retake and try to go top5. If not, stay with UCLA. Personally, I wouldn't waste the year.


hth

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roundabout
Posts: 199
Joined: Sun Jan 17, 2010 9:59 am

Re: What should I do? UCLA/Public Interest question

Postby roundabout » Wed Apr 28, 2010 9:20 am

FWIW, I've been talking to a lot of Epstein people over the last few weeks, and they are mind-blowingly awesome people.

That said, it's a challenging situation. You might want to consider putting a seat deposit down and attempting to negotiate scholarships with UCLA after 1 May- they will have a lot more money freed up by then, and from experience, I know they are open to negotiation. The downside is I don't know how responsive they will be to the other scholarship(s) you've received. By then, you may have heard back from Cornell or NYU, and an admission at either might be helpful leverage? Just a thought, and maybe worth considering.

PoliticalJunkie
Posts: 228
Joined: Sun Sep 27, 2009 2:32 pm

Re: What should I do? UCLA/Public Interest question

Postby PoliticalJunkie » Wed Apr 28, 2010 9:27 am

"partisan advocacy organizations" are also 501c3's and therefore do qualify for IBR.

yeff
Posts: 333
Joined: Mon Dec 07, 2009 2:32 pm

Re: What should I do? UCLA/Public Interest question

Postby yeff » Wed Apr 28, 2010 12:32 pm

PoliticalJunkie wrote:"partisan advocacy organizations" are also 501c3's and therefore do qualify for IBR.


False. 501c3 organizations cannot engage in partisan political advocacy.

--LinkRemoved--

Political organizations would not qualify for the 10-year loan forgiveness, and are in fact specifically prohibited.

http://www.ibrinfo.org/what.vp.html#pslf

What are eligible jobs? In most cases, eligibility is based on whether you work for an eligible employer. Your job is eligible if you:
are employed by any nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization;
are employed by the federal government, a state government, local government, or tribal government (this includes the military and public schools and colleges); or
serve in a full-time AmeriCorps or Peace Corps position.

If you don't meet these criteria, the Department of Education's regulations create a two-part test of other circumstances under which you may still be eligible:
(1) your employer is not "a business organized for profit, a labor union, a partisan political organization, or an organization engaged in religious activities, unless the qualifying activities are unrelated to religious instruction, worship services, or any form of proselytizing;"
Register on October 23, 2008.

devonwhitham
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Nov 08, 2009 11:05 pm

Re: What should I do? UCLA/Public Interest question

Postby devonwhitham » Thu Apr 29, 2010 10:59 am

Thank you everyone for weighing in. Since I first posted I have been accepted to Cornell but I'm still waiting to hear about $$ from them. In response to one of you who asked about my opportunity costs, I have a job offer in LA for next year that doesn't pay very well but would significantly add to my "softs" as it would entail a lot more responsibility and leadership than my current position. Also, it would assure me in-state status for my first year at UCLA or Berkeley next year. My GPA is 3.83 and though I did PT regularly in the low 170s, I also had a lot of 168s and 169s. I took a LOT of practice tests, and I studied pretty darn hard. I'm not super confident that I can improve it very significantly. However, I did apply WAY TOO LATE. I applied in early February (ridiculously stupid, I know) so it makes me really uncomfortable to know I got so close to getting into Berkeley (waitlist). I feel like I'll always wonder what if I applied earlier...?

Another option: Try to transfer to Berkeley after 1L. I know it would mean working my ass off and coming out on the top of my class, but Berkeley seems to accept an awful lot of transfer students into 2L. Just a thought...

JOThompson
Posts: 1311
Joined: Sun Aug 02, 2009 3:16 am

Re: What should I do? UCLA/Public Interest question

Postby JOThompson » Thu Apr 29, 2010 11:04 am

Try to leverage some money out of UCLA. Even if they can't provide much to you, I think the school is your best current option for working in LA, which you seem attached to. I wouldn't take Cornell over UCLA unless significant scholarship money was involved.




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