kublaikahn wrote:I respect your steadfastness in this argument, ect. But it is a losing battle. If you want PI, the real reason to go lower rank (and the only reason IMO) is to lower the cost/debt, because lets face it, you are gonna be broke. If you can get a full ride to Yale, you would do it, right? But if the highest ranked school you can pull is Penn at sticker or William and Mary full ride, you would have a decision to make.
So my question to TLS is this, based on the real income bands in the market and your personal preferences:
Income 40-60k How much debt would be okay with you?
Income 80-110k Same?
Income $160+ Same?
Really an impossible question to answer because there is almost no way of knowing what you are going to make starting out as a 0L. A better way to think about it is to realize that unless you go to an elite school, 40-60k starting is a substantial possibility. Because of this reality, you should base your answer around this consideration. For me, I am paying about as much as I would be willing to pay for a non-T10 (I'm looking at 85-90k, maybe less if I get a paid job next summer).
Also, there is an alternative argument to be made about going to a lower ranked school for less if you want to go into PI. Because of 10 year IBR, I'd go to the highest school I got into. If you make 10 years of repayment on a 30-40k salary, then the difference between $200,000 in debt and $60,000 isn't at all substantial (it might even be 0) because you will pay the same amount back and then have it cleared. Using your example, I'd take Penn at sticker over W&M with a full scholly in a heartbeat. With 10-year IBR, I'd say give me the better job prospects any day. Of course, this argument assumes IBR will be around, but there is little to suggest it is going anywhere or that people who go to school with assumptions of IBR will get screwed out of it.