DA/PD possible with $90,000 in student loans?

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Anonymous User
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DA/PD possible with $90,000 in student loans?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 07, 2012 4:50 pm

So I've come to the realization that my interests really lie in criminal law and I'd love to start a career as a prosecutor or possibly public defender. The only thing worrying me is the debt I have taken on. I don't need a ton of money to live happily, which is one of the reasons I'm starting to veer away from the biglaw goal, but I'd like to be able to live comfortably and start a family not too long after law school while also dealing with student loans. I'll have 90 grand total to pay back. I know there is the possibility of PSLF and such, but a ten year commitment sounds like a long time. I'm in a mid-size midwestern city with a below national average COL. Just wondering what you guys think, especially any of you who might be, or have been, in a similar situation.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Wed Nov 07, 2012 4:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

dreakol
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Re: DA/PD possible with $90,000 in student loans?

Postby dreakol » Wed Nov 07, 2012 4:51 pm

Does your school have their own loan assistance repayment program?

Anonymous User
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Re: DA/PD possible with $90,000 in student loans?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 07, 2012 4:57 pm

dreakol wrote:Does your school have their own loan assistance repayment program?


We do, but it seems minimal and I never hear much about it from other students. I should definitely research that more... good point. I'm at a solid T2 regional school by the way.

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kalvano
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Re: DA/PD possible with $90,000 in student loans?

Postby kalvano » Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:05 pm

IBR + public service 10-year plan?

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Re: DA/PD possible with $90,000 in student loans?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:15 pm

kalvano wrote:IBR + public service 10-year plan?


I guess this might be the route I have to take.

Lord Randolph McDuff
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Re: DA/PD possible with $90,000 in student loans?

Postby Lord Randolph McDuff » Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:20 pm

why is this anonymous? what state are you in? it's a different ballgame from one state to another. what about IBR? I was told I just had to turn in 120 pay periods (10 years) and my debt would be forgiven.

do what you want to do. after a few years you could still leave and go to private practice.

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Re: DA/PD possible with $90,000 in student loans?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:32 pm

Lord Randolph McDuff wrote:why is this anonymous? what state are you in? it's a different ballgame from one state to another. what about IBR? I was told I just had to turn in 120 pay periods (10 years) and my debt would be forgiven.

do what you want to do. after a few years you could still leave and go to private practice.


Anon because I'd rather not have all my classmates know my personal finance situation. I'm in Ohio.

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Re: DA/PD possible with $90,000 in student loans?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:40 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:So, this is purely personal gut reaction, but since I don't think there are any "right" answers to what you're asking, here goes: what are your other options? do you have biglaw options as an alternative? if so, then you could consider what so many do - working in biglaw for a while to pay back the loans, then move into a DA/PD position (or AUSA/FPD). If you don't have biglaw options, is the pay for the DA/PD so much worse than other firm options to pass on criminal law? (I know DA/PD doesn't pay well, but it varies by region and you also have to factor in COL - and some law firms don't pay much more.) 10 years may be a long time, but if you don't do public interest, and you're not in biglaw, you may well be paying back those loans for 20 years anyway.

Really, it boils down to this: what is more important to you - doing a job that you like, or paying off the loans quickly? (That's not rhetorical - different people will put different weight on those two things.)

As for the actual practical possibility of whether you can pursue DA/PD with $90K in loans - find out what the average starting salaries are in your area, find a student loan repayment calculator online, figure out how much it will cost you to live where you want to practice, and run the numbers. No one here can answer the question of how much money you need to live on/start a family on for you - different people prioritize different things (how big a house do you want/need? how many cars? is your spouse working? do you like to eat out/buy fancy clothes? how many kids do you want and what do you want to give them? etc.). There's no magic answer anyone here can provide that says, "Yes! You can work as a DA/PD and be comfortable and start a family with that debt!" because we don't know enough about you to answer that.


Thanks for the response, you make some good points. I know that no one can really give me a firm answer, I just wanted to get some thoughts and opinions... and I might just be looking for someone to tell me it's all gonna be ok, haha. I'm doing the research, but just wanted to see what good 'ol TLS thought.

I'm honestly not far enough along to know if big law is even an option, but I know in general I want to do something that I truly enjoy doing. I'm slightly older than the typical law student, and at this point in my life I value being happy in my work more than money. I also want a somewhat decent work/life balance. But I still need to pay the loans back.

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kalvano
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Re: DA/PD possible with $90,000 in student loans?

Postby kalvano » Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:41 pm

One benefit to the public service forgiveness program is that you are not taxed on the amount forgiven.

If you have $90K in loans and want to do criminal work, expect to start somewhere in the mid-$40K's or thereabouts, and go from there.

It's doable, especially with IBR, but it won't be a walk in the park.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: DA/PD possible with $90,000 in student loans?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:47 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm honestly not far enough along to know if big law is even an option, but I know in general I want to do something that I truly enjoy doing. I'm slightly older than the typical law student, and at this point in my life I value being happy in my work more than money. I also want a somewhat decent work/life balance. But I still need to pay the loans back.

I know exactly how this feels. Personally, I'm planning to ride the IBR+forgiveness boat for 10 years, if I can keep getting public service gigs (am currently clerking). But I'm married to someone with a reasonable income and we don't have kids, so that helps. I'll tell you it'll all be okay if you'll tell me it'll all be okay. :wink:

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Re: DA/PD possible with $90,000 in student loans?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:52 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm honestly not far enough along to know if big law is even an option, but I know in general I want to do something that I truly enjoy doing. I'm slightly older than the typical law student, and at this point in my life I value being happy in my work more than money. I also want a somewhat decent work/life balance. But I still need to pay the loans back.

I know exactly how this feels. Personally, I'm planning to ride the IBR+forgiveness boat for 10 years, if I can keep getting public service gigs (am currently clerking). But I'm married to someone with a reasonable income and we don't have kids, so that helps. I'll tell you it'll all be okay if you'll tell me it'll all be okay. :wink:


Trust me, it's all gonna be ok!

albanach
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Re: DA/PD possible with $90,000 in student loans?

Postby albanach » Wed Nov 07, 2012 6:00 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:I know exactly how this feels. Personally, I'm planning to ride the IBR+forgiveness boat for 10 years, if I can keep getting public service gigs (am currently clerking). But I'm married to someone with a reasonable income and we don't have kids, so that helps. I'll tell you it'll all be okay if you'll tell me it'll all be okay. :wink:


So, IBR is then calculated at 15% of your joint income?

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: DA/PD possible with $90,000 in student loans?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Nov 07, 2012 6:08 pm

albanach wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:I know exactly how this feels. Personally, I'm planning to ride the IBR+forgiveness boat for 10 years, if I can keep getting public service gigs (am currently clerking). But I'm married to someone with a reasonable income and we don't have kids, so that helps. I'll tell you it'll all be okay if you'll tell me it'll all be okay. :wink:


So, IBR is then calculated at 15% of your joint income?

No, my income alone, because we're filing separately. It means my spouse pays a little more tax, but my income looks much much much lower. (If we filed jointly, it would be 15% of our joint income.) Since we don't have kids or a house and neither of us is in school anymore, we don't get much tax benefit from filing jointly, so this seemed a reasonable trade-off.

Trust me, it's all gonna be ok!

:D :D :D

albanach
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Re: DA/PD possible with $90,000 in student loans?

Postby albanach » Wed Nov 07, 2012 7:04 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:No, my income alone, because we're filing separately. It means my spouse pays a little more tax, but my income looks much much much lower. (If we filed jointly, it would be 15% of our joint income.) Since we don't have kids or a house and neither of us is in school anymore, we don't get much tax benefit from filing jointly, so this seemed a reasonable trade-off.


That makes sense. We have a kid, so the payoff might not be as great for us. I guess Turbotax will tell us the most cost effective way to file.

How do they work out your initial payments? Do you just tell the Feds that you intend to file separately the following year or do you need to file separately in your graduation year in anticipation of repayments starting?

I guess if your spouse had loans they can benefit too if you file jointly, so as a couple you can limit combined loan payments to 15%. That might be attractive to some, even if the spouse can't get the ten year write off it might make the first few years of PI work more manageable.

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Re: DA/PD possible with $90,000 in student loans?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 07, 2012 7:18 pm

albanach wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:No, my income alone, because we're filing separately. It means my spouse pays a little more tax, but my income looks much much much lower. (If we filed jointly, it would be 15% of our joint income.) Since we don't have kids or a house and neither of us is in school anymore, we don't get much tax benefit from filing jointly, so this seemed a reasonable trade-off.


That makes sense. We have a kid, so the payoff might not be as great for us. I guess Turbotax will tell us the most cost effective way to file.

How do they work out your initial payments? Do you just tell the Feds that you intend to file separately the following year or do you need to file separately in your graduation year in anticipation of repayments starting?

I guess if your spouse had loans they can benefit too if you file jointly, so as a couple you can limit combined loan payments to 15%. That might be attractive to some, even if the spouse can't get the ten year write off it might make the first few years of PI work more manageable.

I think you would have to file separately in your graduation year, because they calculate the payment off your tax forms. I didn't do that, so my first round of payments was off both our incomes.

Geist13
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Re: DA/PD possible with $90,000 in student loans?

Postby Geist13 » Wed Nov 07, 2012 10:23 pm

As I understand it, the amount of debt doesn't matter if you land a gig qualifying for IBR/Loan forgiveness. The monthly payment is calculated as a % of your salary under IBR. And then no matter what, everything that is left after 120 payments gets forgiven. So whether you have 60k in loans or 250k in loans, it doesn't matter, again, assuming you can qualify. Someone please correct me if I am wrong.

The bigger question you will be asking is whether you are putting yourself in a position to land one of these jobs. That's a tough thing to do, and you shouldn't necessarily be counting on being able to find a good DA/PD job. They are quite competitive where offices are hiring, and aren't hiring at the less competitive offices. That's a generalization of course, but you shouldn't be making decisions on exceptions.




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