Harvard vs Yale (given particular features of LIPP and COAP)

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fronimos
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Harvard vs Yale (given particular features of LIPP and COAP)

Postby fronimos » Wed Apr 27, 2011 5:44 pm

Hi everyone,

I've been a lurker on TLS since the December '10 LSAT and my dilemma finally gives me an opportunity to say thank you to the community for keeping me sane through the law school application process. I’ve been really grateful for your commentary, humor, and insights.

I was accepted at Harvard and Yale and over the past few weeks I've settled on Yale (especially after attending the admitted student programs). The fact that I have a clear interest in academia and my fairly specific research goals made the decision relatively straightforward...

...until I discover an important difference between the low income protection programs at the the two schools.

(1) Harvard LIPP: For JD graduates pursuing a separate PhD after the completion of their JD, LIPP repays loans as if the graduate is working a full time job (after two-years of mandatory in-school deferment unless loans can’t be deferred). The fact that LIPP works on a 10-year repayment schedule means a significant portion of your debt is paid off when you finish the PhD.

(2) Yale COAP: During the PhD after graduation from law school, your loans are in in-school deferment. Which means your loans are NOT in repayment or covered by COAP. Moreover, your principle is accruing interest. This interest accrued during the PhD is NOT covered by COAP once you go into re-payment after PhD completion.

It strikes me as somewhat surprising that despite being the law school of choice for aspiring academics and having a more flexible program in general, Yale won’t assist in the repayment of loans during the PhD. I can choose to be a bartender in the Bahamas after graduation and have Yale help me pay back my law school loans, but as a graduate student on minimum wage with a teaching load I am on my own.

Since I’m quite certain that I will be pursuing the PhD, my decision becomes complicated. If anyone has faced a similar decision or has any advice to offer, I would be very grateful to hear from you. The decision deadline is days away and I’m hoping for a flash of insight…

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Knock
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Re: Harvard vs Yale (given particular features of LIPP and COAP)

Postby Knock » Wed Apr 27, 2011 6:00 pm

I'd still go to Yale, despite the differences in LRAP, simply because it will give you the best odds of becoming a legal academic.

YLS Admissions Blog wrote:Enter Professor Brian Leiter. Leiter, who is a professor at the Univerity of Chicago, compiles detailed statistics on the leading producers of law professors in the country. You can view his most recent rankings of the institutions producing the most law professors here, which includes only people who have graduated from law school since 1995 (thereby providing the most current snapshot of legal academic talent). If you look closely at the tables, you'll notice a few things:

1. In absolute numbers, Yale is in a league of its own, placing more graduates since 1995 -- by a huge margin -- in both the top 43 law schools and the top 18 law schools than any other law school in the nation.

2. Accounting for its size (the "per capita" number), Yale is in a different universe when it comes to law teaching placement. You can look at it like this: Yale graduates in the last decade and a half have been over four times as successful in landing law teaching positions at the top 18 law schools as graduates of Harvard, Stanford, and Chicago; roughly twenty times as successful in landing such jobs as graduates of Columbia, Berkeley, and Virginia; and about forty times as successful in getting these jobs as graduates of NYU, Northwestern, and Michigan.

3. Almost every school on the list has hired more graduates of Yale than its own. (For a separate but related topic on this point, see this post.)

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voice of reason
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Re: Harvard vs Yale (given particular features of LIPP and COAP)

Postby voice of reason » Wed Apr 27, 2011 6:05 pm

Given these rules, how much more will it cost you to attend Yale? If you calculate the figure to account for the extra accrued interest while you're in the PhD program it will give you something concrete to weigh against the extra value of the Yale degree. Then you just have to decide if Yale is worth that much more.

fronimos
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Re: Harvard vs Yale (given particular features of LIPP and COAP)

Postby fronimos » Wed Apr 27, 2011 6:39 pm

Thanks VOR. Over the next few days I have a couple of conversations lined up that should clarify exactly what the difference will be in cost if I go to Yale. And you're right that should give me something concrete to weigh competing considerations against. Unfortunately, the competing considerations aren't as amenable to quantification :(

And Knock, I've seen the Leiter numbers. You're right, the difference in placement is pretty striking.

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voice of reason
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Re: Harvard vs Yale (given particular features of LIPP and COAP)

Postby voice of reason » Wed Apr 27, 2011 8:11 pm

Is there any chance you can do the PhD first, or concurrently? If you can do your PhD at or near Yale, perhaps you can enroll after 1L and take a leave of absence or craft a joint degree program so that so you don't receive the JD until the PhD is done. I have no idea if YLS is flexible in that way.

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samsonyte16
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Re: Harvard vs Yale (given particular features of LIPP and COAP)

Postby samsonyte16 » Thu Apr 28, 2011 12:39 am

Interesting discovery. This does seem somewhat surprising given Yale's reputation. First, you need to call Yale's financial aid office and ask for clarification. If things really are as they appear in your initial post, you should calculate the amount of interest that would accrue during the PhD program and figure out how much it would add to your monthly loan payments. Then you can compare potential monthly payments out of Yale and Harvard. Given that COAP has a significantly higher salary floor, it may work out to be a wash.

The other question you need to ponder is how serious you are about the PhD. I'm not the best source here, but my understanding is the PhD is mostly valuable because it gives you time/training to build your research agenda and publish, both of which could potentially be accomplished through clerkships, fellowships, etc.

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rabbit9198
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Re: Harvard vs Yale (given particular features of LIPP and COAP)

Postby rabbit9198 » Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:47 am

voice of reason wrote:Is there any chance you can do the PhD first, or concurrently? If you can do your PhD at or near Yale, perhaps you can enroll after 1L and take a leave of absence or craft a joint degree program so that so you don't receive the JD until the PhD is done. I have no idea if YLS is flexible in that way.


+1

I've got (relatively) a lot of friends who are pursuing joint degrees, including PhDs, and I've never heard them express concern about COAP's coverage. I don't know details about how their financial situation works out, but you should look into this, for sure; my guess is that there may be a (significant?) difference between a joint degree (where you don't finish your JD before beginning your PhD) and a non-joint degree that you simply pursue later in lieu of getting a "real" job.

smittytron3k
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Re: Harvard vs Yale (given particular features of LIPP and COAP)

Postby smittytron3k » Thu Apr 28, 2011 2:30 am

One other factor to consider is that, with a JD+publications, you may be able to snag a LS teaching job while you're still working on your dissertation. If this is the case, the time between LS graduation and when you start repaying--and the extra debt accrued--is likely to be smaller. I'd probably ask how common this is.

fronimos
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Re: Harvard vs Yale (given particular features of LIPP and COAP)

Postby fronimos » Fri Apr 29, 2011 4:42 pm

After speaking with Yale, I get the sense that COAP's policy with respect to PhDs is seen as necessary given the high number of students who wish to pursue PhDs and the flexibility of the program in general. I don't think there should be much of a difference in the total number of prospective PhDs at H&Y, though...

I did some rough calculations on the evolution of debt given various scenarios at H&Y (making a few assumptions along the way)

3 years of JD and then 5 years of PhD: Assuming your debt coming out of the JD is ~$140K, at the end of the PhD it decreases by ~$13K at Harvard, whereas it increases by ~$48K at Yale (other things equal). The difference of ~$60K is quite striking.

1 yr JD -> 3yrs PhD -> 2yrs JD -> 2yrs PHD: Assumed no change in debt at H (I don't know what the policy is for staggered/joint degrees). Interest accrued during PhD years at Yale is ~$33K.


Taking the best case scenarios for both schools looks like it could cost you ~$46K more to pursue both JD and PHD at Yale than at Harvard. In conversation with the university about the difference, we came to a number of around $40K.

Also, note that given law prof. salaries, it is unlikely that the differing thresholds for COAP and LIPP should make any difference post PhD.

The 'no PhD' alternative is not something I'm too keen on given that I'm interested in the PhD quite apart from career goals. So I'm trying to carefully consider whether YLS should be picked over HLS despite increase of $40K in costs.




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