Money-wise, I was--am?--in a similar boat. I started out with 110k undergrad debt which is down to about 84k now after two years of working. I applied to Michigan ED and was basically prepared to pay sticker there and a couple of other schools so I was looking at about 204K in COA plus however much interest and origination fees and my undergrad debt's interest and balance. For a little while, I was having small panic attacks about the amount of money I would owe after graduation. But I am certain I would not be satisfied pursuing any other profession and that, combined with the lesser facts that I come from shitty circumstances and there's so much undergrad debt I would have limited options for the next ten years anyway, made the acceptance and choice to take on that debt easier for me at least. There will probably be a lot of people who will tell you you're insane, but if you know what you want to do and know what it is going in, then I think it makes it a lot more bearable and honestly, you probably know what's right for you. Someone telling you you should go and do something else with your life isn't going to be the one going to a job you hate day in day out for the next forty years.
Things I found useful to look into:
1. LRAP of schools. Many of them take into account undergrad student loans when determining your salary for the purposes of LRAP qualification. NYU recently changed theirs in a big way I believe.
2. IBR. This is huge if you can get federal loans. If you do this, you will not contribute more than 10% of your income to paying your student loans. If you get a federal loan consolidation, this will also include your undergrad. So your quality of life will not be that shitty. Also, 10 years in public interest and the remainder is forgiven. Twenty-five years otherwise.
3. Consider asking for need based aid from schools. The consensus on TLS seems to be this is impossible. It wasn't in my experience. I make pretty decent money right now, but wrote a statement on my Need Access report about how much in undergrad loans I have and why I had them. I ended up getting quite a significant sum of need-based aid because of this.
I should add a small qualifier though that if you have hesitation about being a lawyer or you haven't had that much exposure to what you would actually be doing, I would look into that. "Dreams" aside, there's a very frightening reality and taking on the equivalent of a mortgage is still no easy thing. Good luck =)
Last edited by TheStrand
on Sun Mar 27, 2011 11:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.