I'll be living with a working SO, so I have decided not to include COL costs in my comparison of schools (since her salary will basically track the COL difference) and to assume that she will contribute no money towards tuition. I have savings to put towards tuition, but no expected family contribution. I have not included any expected SA money and have assumed 3% cost increases for every year including this one. I have no retakes left for this cycle or next, though because of GPA I don't think things would change dramatically anyway. All scholly's are after negotiation (Columbia/NYC pending) and all have already increased their offer.
School (Scholly) Tuition Cost --> Tuition Debt after applying current savings
Columbia ($0) $184k --> $88k debt
NYU ($0) $167k --> $72k debt
UVA ($75k/instate) $72k --> $22k savings
Michigan ($90k) $73k --> $21k savings
Duke ($75k) $89k --> $6k savings
My main question is, will the New York schools provide any greater long-term benefit in this field than the cheaper options? I am basically wondering if my long-term career options will be at all affected by choosing Columbia/NYU or if that will just help get the first job. I'm in a position where the debt load will not be extremely large from any of these schools, so I'm trying to figure out if I'm sacrificing long-term benefit to avoid a relatively small amount of debt.
Also, if not Columbia/NYU, then which of the cheaper schools will best position me for antitrust litigation in DC and why?
Not much debt from any school, but will the cheaper options get me back to DC?