I'll echo everyone else's thanks here--your insight is invaluable!
I'm guessing I might be in a similar situation to a number of people on this board, in that I plan to go into public interest/government work after graduation, and I want to know the best way to make life livable on a lower salary.
My particular situation is that I have been offered a 1/2 tuition scholarship at a lower ranked school, and acceptances (with no scholarships) to two T-14 schools. Each of the T-14 schools has recently unveiled new LRAP programs which dovetail with the federal CCRAA plan, which allows students to make income-based repayments (IBR), and then forgives the remaining balance of the student's debt after 10 years in eligible public service. I know that Gradplus loans do qualify for IBR, so it should be possible to borrow the entire amount of attending either of these higher ranked schools in eligible loans.
So my question is, what really is the safer bet here? If I go to the lower ranked school, which also happens to be in a very affordable area, I would graduate with much less debt (say $60k vs. $160k). But the lower-ranked school's LRAP is much less extensive, so I would probably be paying the majority of that debt back over time. If I go to the higher-ranked schools, I would be graduating with huge debt, but with LRAP programs which would effectively reimburse me for all (or most) of my IBR payments for 10 years, after which the remainder would be forgiven.
So long as I really do stick with public interest work, it seems like the latter option is the best option, especially in view of the increased career prospects from graduating from a higher-ranked school. Is there anything that I'm missing, though? It would be a horrible surprise to accumulate that much debt and then find out that I missed some detail that would disqualify me from the LRAP/IBR help.
p.s.: Here are the links to the school's LRAP programs, if that would help: http://www.law.georgetown.edu/finaid/lrap/index.htmlhttp://www.law.northwestern.edu/admissi ... /lrap.html