PunkedbyReality wrote:I received scholarships of $15,000 per year and $18,000 per year from UT and Michigan respectively; this also goes much farther at UT for me because I have in-state tuition of $33,000. Based on this information and the total costs provided on the website, I have done net present value (NPV) analysis on the cost of attending. My numbers are below. Here are my assumptions:
Chances of getting $160K starting salary:
UT - %30
Michigan - %40
I simply assumed that if I don't get a BigLaw salary then I would take a public service job with a starting salary of 55K.
EXPECTED VALUE WITH AN 8-YEAR OUTLOOK:
UT Austin: $308, 041
The value of UT is higher because it will cost so much less, but Michigan is not far behind because it provides roughly a 10% better chance of getting $160K starting. If I don't get BigLaw, then Michigan will put me in a tricky debt situation. But, Michigan is also a stronger school with more legitimate national reach. National reach and other qualitative criteria like this are making the decision a hard one. I would ideally like national reach, a collegial environment, and a moderate/liberal culture.
Where would you go?
You are pretty off with some stuff here. This is kinda long so before I get into it, I want to say I am not advocating Mich over UT. I think you should negotiate with UT using the T14 acceptances/scholarships (if Mich gave you 15K, seems like UT should give more than 18K), and then go to UT and live with your parents to keep costs down as much as possible.
Now onto the issues....first, you can't assume a 55K/year salary (whether in PI or not) if you miss big law. The most recent numbers show that 2/3 of UT's class reported a salary with the 25th percentile of those who reported at 57K. This means that 57K is about the median salary out of UT, so about half the grads make less than that (while about 1/3 make almost 3x the amount - welcome to the craziness of legal hiring). You can quibble about whether 57K is the median or the 40th percentile or whatever, but the point remains that you have a close to 50% chance of less than 57K (and they are not all 55K jobs down to the 1st percentile - see peak at 40K on a bimodal salary distribution chart). There are several reasons I assumed that the 1/3 who don't report have low/no salaries. First, common sense and human nature suggest that the people who don't report a salary either don't have one or are embarrassed by how low it is. Also, schools are allowed to track down salaries for people who don't respond, and it's pretty easy to track down the person working in big law and figure out their salary, all online, while it is harder to find the grad working as a cashier at BestBuy since they don't bother putting them on the website, and their salaries aren't plastered all over the Intenet. Plus, the schools obviously have an incentive to track down every last big law grad, and the numbers will reflect that.
I'm sorry if I sound a little harsh because you seem more informed than the people who come traipsing on here asking whether they should go to Cardozo at sticker bc of the shot it will give them at big law and say 'oh yeah I'm like totally cool with a 70-80K mid law job or an ADA position in the Manhattan DA's office if big law doesn't work out.' But you said that yur chances of getting the 55K/year PI job were 1-(chance of big law), and that is flat out wrong. You are not accounting for the possibility that you get no full-time long-term JD-required job (at least 17% of UT's class had this outcome) or a PI job or small firm job that pays 40K. If you recognize that there is a not insignificant chance that you end up with no legal job or a 40K/year insurance defense gig, then you truly understand the worst outcome. Perhaps a better way to say it is a 55K/year PI job is a good outcome, not a fallback option.
Also, a small point, but UMich's 40% big law is 33% more than UT's 30%, not 10%. 10% more would be if Mich was at 33% big law at which point we would all say they are essentially equivalent. I don't think this means you should go to Mich, but just sayin'....you're confirming the dreaed stereotype that law students are bad at math
Anyway, you're not in a terrible place, but think of these offers as the starting point for negotiation. Schools are going to be petty desperate this year come May with the gigantic drop in applicants. It is completely a students' market, so don't sell yourself short. Maximizing this advantage may require hardball negotiating where you basically (nicely) say I'd love to attend but it is not financially feasible for me at this price so I am withdrawing. I think this year that tactic will result in an increased offer pretty frequently. Obviously it is risky since the school could say 'fine, too bad.' But that is what I would do if I were applying now. If you think you can squeeze a few more points out of the LSAT, do it by all means. If you bumped your score in June you could go to UT and ask for more money or you could decide to reapply next year.