Debt-Averse Californian: Help Me

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twinkletoes16
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Debt-Averse Californian: Help Me

Postby twinkletoes16 » Thu Feb 07, 2013 12:32 am

I am mostly set on law school at this point, but get panicky thinking about being unemployed out of law school and having soul-crushing debt. Some of the articles floating around (http://insidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2013/02/a-reader-suggested-i-take-look-at.html and http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323926104578276301888284108.html, for those who were wondering) have made me very nervous (and rightly so). Thus far have been accepted at the following schools (scholarships, if any, listed below):

USC- 105k (may be bumped up to 120k, and still waiting to hear about Rothman)
UCLA
Berkeley
Michigan- 75k
Georgetown
NYU- 55/60k
Northwestern

Still waiting to hear back from HSCC (these will all be dings or never-ending WLs if I'm lucky), along with Cornell, UVA, and Penn.

Career-path wise, my ideal would be clerking, biglaw, then into PI or possibly being a judge if there's a miracle. I want to practice in California, but am not particular about Norcal vs. Socal...having lived in both, both have pros and cons. As said above, debt makes me nervous, but I think I need to strike a balance between $ vs. best possible career (or repaying the debt, anyway) outcomes. Also have taken a look at LST and Berkeley looks fairly solid, but want to make sure I'm not missing anything, and that $-wise I would be taking the right choice if I'm staring down the gun with Berk @ sticker. :shock:

Thoughts, TLSers? I know my cycle is still young, I just have a lot of planning and moving to do early this year prior to enrolling anywhere anyway.


ETA: I went OOS to an UG on the other side of the country. Does this impact my ties at all?
Last edited by twinkletoes16 on Fri Mar 01, 2013 1:24 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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cinephile
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Re: Debt-Averse Californian: Help Me

Postby cinephile » Thu Feb 07, 2013 12:41 am

Saving money is great, but biglaw is by no means guaranteed at UCLA/USC. It's more likely than not that you wouldn't get biglaw, actually (unless you have some other attribute I don't know about that helped you land your scholarship). So do you really want the best shot at biglaw or the lowest cost?

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twinkletoes16
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Re: Debt-Averse Californian: Help Me

Postby twinkletoes16 » Thu Feb 07, 2013 12:47 am

cinephile wrote:Saving money is great, but biglaw is by no means guaranteed at UCLA/USC. It's more likely than not that you wouldn't get biglaw, actually (unless you have some other attribute I don't know about that helped you land your scholarship). So do you really want the best shot at biglaw or the lowest cost?



That's what I'm struggling with. If I can get Berk to even toss 25k at me, should I go with them? I'm trying to parse at which $ would I be okay with attending Berk. It's been my dream school forever and places me pretty competitively (i think...) in CA legal market. But that is still a LOT of debt. w/r/t my other options, I want to make sure I'm not leaving any stone unturned. NYU's placement into CA, etc.

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Cicero76
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Re: Debt-Averse Californian: Help Me

Postby Cicero76 » Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:10 am

twinkletoes16 wrote:
cinephile wrote:Saving money is great, but biglaw is by no means guaranteed at UCLA/USC. It's more likely than not that you wouldn't get biglaw, actually (unless you have some other attribute I don't know about that helped you land your scholarship). So do you really want the best shot at biglaw or the lowest cost?



That's what I'm struggling with. If I can get Berk to even toss 25k at me, should I go with them? I'm trying to parse at which $ would I be okay with attending Berk. It's been my dream school forever and places me pretty competitively (i think...) in CA legal market. But that is still a LOT of debt. w/r/t my other options, I want to make sure I'm not leaving any stone unturned. NYU's placement into CA, etc.


I'd be pretty disappointed if with your numbers Berk didn't throw at least 25k your way. If they did, I'd take it over USC/UCLA any day of the week.

005618502
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Re: Debt-Averse Californian: Help Me

Postby 005618502 » Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:18 am

If you can get the Rothman take it and dont look back. Basically guarantees biglaw (gives you a 1L spot, and I hear everyone gets an offer back). If not and you definitely want clerkship/biglaw I would take whatever money berk gives you (I am assuming they will match Michigan). If no money, go to Michigan or UVA/Penn if you get similar money.

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Tom Joad
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Re: Debt-Averse Californian: Help Me

Postby Tom Joad » Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:36 am

Rothman > Michigan > others

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bluepenguin
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Re: Debt-Averse Californian: Help Me

Postby bluepenguin » Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:49 am

Tom Joad wrote:Rothman > Michigan > others


Agree

Myself
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.

Postby Myself » Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:33 am

.
Last edited by Myself on Sun Nov 24, 2013 11:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Tom Joad
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Re: Debt-Averse Californian: Help Me

Postby Tom Joad » Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:38 am

ajax adonis wrote:Hmm, if you're dead-set on going, why not NYU?

I would imagine Berkeley places better in CA than NYU. Not sure if I could stomach the debt, but a native Californian going to UCB at sticker is probably not an unreasonable decision.

rad lulz
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Re: Debt-Averse Californian: Help Me

Postby rad lulz » Thu Feb 07, 2013 4:29 am

Even at in state +25k from Boalt, that doesn't sound very debt averse

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JCougar
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Re: Debt-Averse Californian: Help Me

Postby JCougar » Thu Feb 07, 2013 6:08 am

It's time you ask yourself if you really, really, actually want to work in Biglaw for 5 years to pay down Berkeley's debt. Associate turnover in Biglaw is around 75% by year five. Some people quit, others get pushed out, but either way, it's almost always for a job that pays less. A lot of people hate it. And despite getting paid a lot, after taxes and aggressive loan payments, your disposable income is going to look pretty close to what someone in small law with zero debt will be making.

Also, consider that even Berkeley gives you no better than a 50-50 shot at Biglaw. You could go there and finish in the bottom third and be forced to bartend away $200K of debt.

Either way, I'd stay in California, unless you get a scholarship from a T10 that's too good to pass up. I'd lean toward USC or UCLA, the latter of which should eventually also give you a scholarship.

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twinkletoes16
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Re: Debt-Averse Californian: Help Me

Postby twinkletoes16 » Thu Feb 07, 2013 7:16 am

JCougar wrote:
Also, consider that even Berkeley gives you no better than a 50-50 shot at Biglaw. You could go there and finish in the bottom third and be forced to bartend away $200K of debt.



Source?

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northwood
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Re: Debt-Averse Californian: Help Me

Postby northwood » Thu Feb 07, 2013 8:59 am

make sure to add cost of living to the totals when determining the total cost for the schol.

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twinkletoes16
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Re: Debt-Averse Californian: Help Me

Postby twinkletoes16 » Thu Feb 07, 2013 9:24 am

northwood wrote:make sure to add cost of living to the totals when determining the total cost for the schol.



I'd assume 10k/year for CoL and then add rent on top of that? I'm living right now on $8/hour (barely) and just spend money on food, phone bill, utilities, minimal gas and then emergency/health fund. California rent seems to be $1200/mo minimum and Michigan looks closer to $500/month. Please correct if I'm wrong, guys! Just guesses from browsing Craigslist.

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: Debt-Averse Californian: Help Me

Postby Tiago Splitter » Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:36 am

With your numbers you'll have plenty of great options later on in the cycle. I wouldn't go to Berkeley at sticker but I doubt you'll be forced to make that choice when it's all said and done. Give it another 4-6 weeks, see what you have and then start negotiating hard.

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BlaqBella
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Re: Debt-Averse Californian: Help Me

Postby BlaqBella » Thu Feb 07, 2013 12:39 pm

If there is any chance Berkeley can match your other offers, I'd say Berkeley. Otherwise, USC. Good luck!

ams929
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Re: Debt-Averse Californian: Help Me

Postby ams929 » Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:04 pm

twinkletoes16 wrote:
northwood wrote:make sure to add cost of living to the totals when determining the total cost for the schol.



I'd assume 10k/year for CoL and then add rent on top of that? I'm living right now on $8/hour (barely) and just spend money on food, phone bill, utilities, minimal gas and then emergency/health fund. California rent seems to be $1200/mo minimum and Michigan looks closer to $500/month. Please correct if I'm wrong, guys! Just guesses from browsing Craigslist.


I pay 850.00 a month for one room in a 2 bedroom in Santa Monica with a roommate....hold out hope for less expensive rent!

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dsn32
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Re: Debt-Averse Californian: Help Me

Postby dsn32 » Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:14 pm

twinkletoes16 wrote:
northwood wrote:make sure to add cost of living to the totals when determining the total cost for the schol.



I'd assume 10k/year for CoL and then add rent on top of that? I'm living right now on $8/hour (barely) and just spend money on food, phone bill, utilities, minimal gas and then emergency/health fund. California rent seems to be $1200/mo minimum and Michigan looks closer to $500/month. Please correct if I'm wrong, guys! Just guesses from browsing Craigslist.


You'll pay at least $600/month to get something reasonable in A2, probably closer to $700 if you want something to yourself.

fallingup
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Re: Debt-Averse Californian: Help Me

Postby fallingup » Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:17 pm

I find this thread really helpful. I have a 25K/year scholarship to UCLA but doubt I will get into any T14s. I am intent on biglaw and I would really love to hear more about whether UCLA is a good choice from people who've crunched the numbers. LST says that 23.5% of UCLA grads work at big firms, but I still understand what that means for my prospects. Does that mean a majority of UCLA students weren't interested in biglaw? Or does it mean only the top 25% of UCLA students can hope to get biglaw? If the biglaw prospects are not good, it's just not going to be worth it to me, even if my tuition is discounted. Help!!!

J90
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Re: Debt-Averse Californian: Help Me

Postby J90 » Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:17 pm

Currently living in Westwood, walking distance from UCLA. I have three roommates in a pretty nice 2-bed 2-bath and pay $640 per month, $740 including parking (and before water/elec).

I have a friend with a solid studio apartment that pays $775, also right off campus. These are good places. There's also a couple bad ones, but if you visit the place before depositing you'll be fine. If you put yourself slightly farther away from the campus there's even cheaper.

I know UCLA's not one of your main options, but the point's that you absolutely can find housing cheaper than $1,200 per month. No idea about near Cal but I doubt close to USC's any different if not slightly cheaper than Westwood.

I find this thread really helpful. I have a 25K/year scholarship to UCLA but doubt I will get into any T14s. I am intent on biglaw and I would really love to hear more about whether UCLA is a good choice from people who've crunched the numbers. LST says that 23.5% of UCLA grads work at big firms, but I still understand what that means for my prospects. Does that mean a majority of UCLA students weren't interested in biglaw? Or does it mean only the top 25% of UCLA students can hope to get biglaw? If the biglaw prospects are not good, it's just not going to be worth it to me, even if my tuition is discounted. Help!!!


It means exactly what it says: that 23.5% work at big firms. This doesn't mean that only the top 25% can hope for it - there certainly may have been top students who preferred public interest or government jobs, etc. That said, it's not a sure deal, either. I don't want to put a number on what class rank you'd need to be to have a shot, since it'd be pure speculation and I'd be talking out of my ass.

But if that's what you're dead set on, compare that number to USC/etc. and weigh that vs. the money and see what you think.
Last edited by J90 on Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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rinkrat19
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Re: Debt-Averse Californian: Help Me

Postby rinkrat19 » Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:19 pm

I don't think you can make a good decision here until you have scholarship offers from all the school.

BigZuck
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Re: Debt-Averse Californian: Help Me

Postby BigZuck » Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:23 pm

I vote...Cornell w/ $$$$. When all is said and done I bet they offer you at least 120k. If you can stand Ithaca I think that is a great offer and I would take that over USC in a heartbeat.

If Berkeley offers at least 25k a year and you really want CA biglaw above all else then I think you should be young enough and single enough to roll the dice on the debt there (although you are still looking at like 150k). I love Berkeley too and want Northern CA big law above all else but I am also debt averse and I don't know if I could stomach sticker there.

With current offers as they stand I would probably pick USC. But I think you will have better choices when all is said and done.

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dsn32
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Re: Debt-Averse Californian: Help Me

Postby dsn32 » Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:29 pm

BigZuck wrote:I vote...Cornell w/ $$$$. When all is said and done I bet they offer you at least 120k. If you can stand Ithaca I think that is a great offer and I would take that over USC in a heartbeat.

If Berkeley offers at least 25k a year and you really want CA biglaw above all else then I think you should be young enough and single enough to roll the dice on the debt there (although you are still looking at like 150k). I love Berkeley too and want Northern CA big law above all else but I am also debt averse and I don't know if I could stomach sticker there.

With current offers as they stand I would probably pick USC. But I think you will have better choices when all is said and done.


Notable though, Cornell has ridiculous tuition (55k!), so that 120k is probably like 90k at Berkeley for you as an in-stater. If Berkeley matched your Michigan scholly, it'd be no more than a 20-25k difference.

BigZuck
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Re: Debt-Averse Californian: Help Me

Postby BigZuck » Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:34 pm

Fwiw the OP is a "Californian" but not a resident as far as I know. But that's only like a 4 or 5K difference I think.

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twinkletoes16
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Re: Debt-Averse Californian: Help Me

Postby twinkletoes16 » Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:36 pm

rinkrat19 wrote:I don't think you can make a good decision here until you have scholarship offers from all the school.



You're right. Just trying to get a feel for things. Maybe I should stay put and not move until I have everything decided upon- 2 moves aren't going to help me save money.




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