I enjoy prestige whoring as much as anyone else, but people need to stop recommending HYS > T14+full ride because omfg, HYS LRAPs are just so great. They're not. In fact, they're (comparatively) fairly terrible. Let's stop misleading prospective students with this crap.
For the sake of discussion, let's assume a prospective student has a full ride to Michigan (and will cover the rest with savings), will be paying close to sticker at all of HYS (250k COA), and also got into Columbia, but also at sticker. We'll also say for the sake of discussion, the PI job the HYSC grads land is a super awesome DOJ spot with upward mobility to a GS-14, and the Michigan grad lands a cool, but less prestigious spot with HUD with upward mobility to a GS-13.
Don't worry, we'll play with less ludicrous numbers later.
The Michigan student graduates with no debt. He doesn't need LRAP.
Year 1) 51k salary, no debt payment.
Year 2) 62k salary, no debt payment.
Year 3) 74k salary, no debt payment.
Year 4) 89k salary, no debt payment.
Year 5) 92k salary, no debt payment.
(at this point a HUD attorney with no debt would probably roll to a boutique/policy gig, but suppose he slugs up the steps):
Year 6) 94k salary, no debt payment.
Year 7) 98k salary, no debt payment.
100k salary, no debt payment.
Year 9-10) 102k salary, no debt payment.Over ten years, the student has made $864k, and has made no payments
Now, the Columbia student gets DOJ, and needs LRAP. Columbia's LRAP kicks in the entire PAYE payment up to a 71k salary, and then the student more or less pays the rest of it. In reality, Columbia pays a prorated amount, but the difference between the numbers is about 1k, and I'm too lazy to prorate the numbers myself:
Year 1) 62k salary, no debt payment.
Year 2) 74k salary, ($)5.5k in payments.
Year 3) 89k salary, 7k in payments.
Year 4) 105k salary, 8.7k in payments.
Year 5) 108k salary, 9k payments,
(this continues up to...)
Year 6-10, avg. 115k salary, 10k in payments.Over ten years, the student has earned ~900k, and has paid 75k in payments.
Now the Harvard student gets DOJ and, of course, needs LRAP. Harvard's LRAP covers everything up to 46k a year, which means that even in year 1 at 62k/yr, our HLS grad will be in the highest LRAP bracket.
Year 1) 62k salary, 5.2k in payments.
Year 2) 74k salary, 10k in payments.
Year 3) 89k salary, 16k in payments.
At this point, an H student goes, "wtf, I'm paying literally double of what the Columbia grad in the desk over from me is paying." That is because the Columbia grad is on PAYE. See, HYS LRAPs are not PAYE-contingent, which means that in order to participate, the student must be on a standard repayment plan. Even though both LRAPs allow the student's loans to be forgiven at the end of the ten year period, the monthly payment is more than twice the amount of a straight-up PAYE payment. When all is said and done, the HLS grad will have made approximately 160k
in payments, unless the HLS grad decides to bite the bullet, switch his payments over to PAYE, and join the ranks of everyone else trodding down the PSLF path.
Yale's is similar, and is slightly better for the early years of a PI career, but this difference quickly becomes marginalized in the upper salary ranges. On LIPP, an HLS grad will max out at $1,200 + .4*(salary-52k). A YLS COAP participant will be in the top bracket at 80k, but with $6,750 + .6*(salary-80k). That means at 100k/yr salary, a YLS participant will pay $18,750 a year in payments, while an HLS grad will pay $20,400. In either event, that's significantly more than the Columbia/PAYE payment at $8,200 a year. By the fifth year, HLS does offer a "longevity allowance" which is approximately 5k a year, but if you're still in LIPP by the fifth year, you're doing something very wrong.
But that's not all. If you come in with any
preexisting cash assets, HLS' LRAP will reduce your award amount based on the time you've been out of undergrad and the time you've spent working outside of undergrad. More details can be found here: http://www.law.harvard.edu/current/sfs/lipp/assets.html
- HLS and YLS claim to forgive 30k of outside student debt with its LRAP forgiveness, but PSLF subsumes all (federal) outside student debt.
- HLS and YLS have no participation window, SLS has a five-year window, but PAYE/PSLF has no participation window.
- HLS and YLS claim to cover federal clerkships, even though these will be covered under not only PAYE/PSLF, but almost all other T14 LRAPs. SLS conditionally covers federal clerkships.
- SLS does not cover academia. PAYE/PSLF definitely covers academia.
Of the three HYS LRAPs, SLS' is unquestioningly the worst. Exceeding 80k puts you in a $9,750 + 70%*(income-80k) block, which means for someone making 100k, your yearly payment is 23.7k. Leaving SLS' LRAP means you lose time spent in eligibility, which means that the year you were expecting to be eligible... well... guess what, you're not. Enjoy whatever interest accumulated on your loans, because you're going to be paying that bitch back in full.
Furthermore, all of HYS LRAPs factor in your spouse's salary. Many T14 LRAPs do not, and even if they did, you block out in a few years to where you're on straight-PAYE, and that certainly doesn't factor in your spouse's salary (as long as you file separately).
To be fair, there are three situations where HYS' LRAPs could presumably be argued as better than PAYE-contingent LRAPs. First, if you only plan on doing PI for <2 years and then immediately transferring into biglaw (which is a dumb idea, and you should have taken the full ride at the T14 regardless), your loans aren't accumulating interest because HYS is paying it. This is different from PAYE, where your loans go all neg-am on you and capitalize as well.
Secondly, if you're pursuing a LONG Ph.D post law school, HLS/YLS are kind of cool (SLS is not). You're making no money as a Ph.D student, so you weren't going to make any payments anyway, but now your timeframe is 10 years on HLS/YLS rather than 20 years on PAYE/non-PSLF. Plus, if you graduate in, like, 7 years, your overall debt will be substantially lower than it would have been on PAYE.
Finally, if you want to open up your own firm, all of HYS cover private firm startups. But then why the frack did you go to HYS if you wanted to open a shitelaw firm? But I guess 10 years in repayment > 20 years, probably.