WUSTL Recent Grad (and others) Taking Questions

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
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soccerfreak
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Re: WUSTL 2L Taking Questions

Postby soccerfreak » Tue May 01, 2012 2:42 pm

JCougar wrote:
IMO, any CSO in this legal economy is like paddling a bark canoe up a waterfall. Nobody is hiring: not biglaw, not government, not even small firms. If there's no positions out there, you can't place people no matter how many calls and letters you send out. Plus, lawyers aren't impressed by people who sit back and let their school do all their networking and work for you. Alumni networking doesn't work when the alumni have 30 students trying to contact them but there isn't a single job opening that they know of.

The good thing about WUSTL is that there's a lot of funding and help if you want to go out there and network on your own. There's funds set up for people who want to fly across the country and attend conferences, funding for judicial clerkship interviews, etc. The problem is, almost zero students take advantage of these opportunities. Finding a job though networking is simple. Put yourself in a place where there's a lot of practicing lawyers but very little law students and just play the numbers game. Something will eventually work out. All the job fairs, etc. people throw are ok, but even there, you have hundreds of students and only a few jobs. But I've met dozens of attorneys at different conferences across the country, many of which know me personally now and have my resume in case any job opportunity comes up in the future. Finding a job in today's economy is a numbers game, but if you're going to expend the effort, at least do it in a way where you get the most traction.

Any idea how we tap into these traveling funds?

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JCougar
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Re: WUSTL 2L Taking Questions

Postby JCougar » Tue May 01, 2012 3:39 pm

soccerfreak wrote:Any idea how we tap into these traveling funds?


Depends on what you want to do. The CSO will help you out with conference fees. The Burson Fund will help you out with the travel expenses. You have to apply a month in advance now if you want to go to a conference. Not sure what the deal is for traveling clerkship interviews. For the Burson fund, talk to Dean Walsh.

The ABA throws annual/biannual conferences for a ton of different practice areas. Figure out which practice area you are interested in and go network. There's usually hundreds of lawyers there for every one law student, and most of them love talking to law students.

KellyFan2000
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Re: WUSTL 2L Taking Questions

Postby KellyFan2000 » Tue May 01, 2012 7:15 pm

Thanks, guys! I really appreciate you taking time to answer questions. I'm down to deciding between a few schools and this really helps with the decision-making process.

I've got a couple more questions I hope you might address:

1) Could you speak to the lack of a forced curve and how much it realistically affects one's ability to place well in the class? If one puts his/her head down, works hard utilizing the collective TLS wisdom, and is able to excel on exams, is he/she still going to place well in the class, or does the lack of forced curve throw a unimaginable amount of unpredictability into the whole process?

2) For those who are interested in clerking, approximately how high in the class must one finish to have a shot at Article III clerkships? (If applying broadly -- not gunning for the uber-competive districts like southern NY, DC appeals, etc. which now basically require a few years of practice following a YHSCCN JD.)

rebexness
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Re: WUSTL 2L Taking Questions

Postby rebexness » Tue May 01, 2012 7:35 pm

Last edited by rebexness on Thu Nov 13, 2014 5:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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JCougar
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Re: WUSTL 2L Taking Questions

Postby JCougar » Tue May 01, 2012 7:45 pm

KellyFan2000 wrote:Thanks, guys! I really appreciate you taking time to answer questions. I'm down to deciding between a few schools and this really helps with the decision-making process.

I've got a couple more questions I hope you might address:

1) Could you speak to the lack of a forced curve and how much it realistically affects one's ability to place well in the class? If one puts his/her head down, works hard utilizing the collective TLS wisdom, and is able to excel on exams, is he/she still going to place well in the class, or does the lack of forced curve throw a unimaginable amount of unpredictability into the whole process?

2) For those who are interested in clerking, approximately how high in the class must one finish to have a shot at Article III clerkships? (If applying broadly -- not gunning for the uber-competive districts like southern NY, DC appeals, etc. which now basically require a few years of practice following a YHSCCN JD.)


1) forced curve or non-forced curve, the process is mostly unpredictable. law grades have little to nothing to do with how hard you work and whether you understand the material or not, no matter which school you go to. it's an incredibly vacuous and ritualistic process with little grounding in reality or practicality. the law school curriculum has nearly zero grounding 1) pedagogically, 2) from an assessment standpoint, or 3) from a training standpoint -- and that includes the exams. It was invented 150 years ago by some old, cranky professor who everyone thought was crazy named Christopher Langdell, and no one has changed it since, despite massive developments in educational and testing theory and practice. law school is an archaic process that makes no sense, but the legal tradition survives on blind adherence to ritual rather than common sense, practicality, or science. you're best off coming in with zero expectations but with a plan to just put up with all the nonsense and do what you want to do afterward -- and not take it too seriously while going through it. that's not to discourage you from doing your best, but it's not rational to believe that rational inputs equal rational outcomes. the entire system is completely defunct and needs a complete and total revamp.

2) Have no idea about Article III clerkships, but my guess is top 5% at least.

seatown12
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Re: WUSTL 2L Taking Questions

Postby seatown12 » Tue May 01, 2012 8:13 pm

rebexness wrote:If WUSTL was far and away your first choice (although next years class) but you could only fly across the country once to visit/find housing, etc, would you try to go to an ASD late in the spring and house hunt then? Or wait for one of the housing days? Or wing it when you get there?

housing day 100%; you can meet potential roommates and apt hunt together, and you can see the actual unit you'd be renting

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romothesavior
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Re: WUSTL 2L Taking Questions

Postby romothesavior » Tue May 01, 2012 8:26 pm

JCougar wrote:1) forced curve or non-forced curve, the process is mostly unpredictable. law grades have little to nothing to do with how hard you work and whether you understand the material or not, no matter which school you go to. it's an incredibly vacuous and ritualistic process with little grounding in reality or practicality. the law school curriculum has nearly zero grounding 1) pedagogically, 2) from an assessment standpoint, or 3) from a training standpoint -- and that includes the exams.

Just want to point out to the 0Ls: While most of us would agree that exams are stupid and grading can at times be a bit of a mystery, few people in the school would sign on to the JCougar's argument here, at least in terms of degree. Some of the things he is saying here are correct (in varying degrees), but this is a bit extreme IMO.

I know I've said this before, but I wanted to add this caveat for those of you who missed the pages upon pages of bickering about this a few months ago.

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JCougar
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Re: WUSTL 2L Taking Questions

Postby JCougar » Tue May 01, 2012 8:52 pm

True, but my post is a lot closer to reality than the "if you work hard and understand the material perfectly you will do fine" idea.

There's obviously some level of non-work/lack of understanding that will start negatively affecting your GPA. But most people meet that threshold -- at least during 1L -- before the depression sets in.

The bottom line, and it's been repeated ad nauseam on here, is that you really can't plan to be in any sort of "Top __%" of the class, unless it's like Top 67% or something -- because, beyond that, grades are largely out of your control. If you just so happen to "think like a lawyer," just be lucky that serendipity is on your side.

KellyFan2000
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Re: WUSTL 2L Taking Questions

Postby KellyFan2000 » Tue May 01, 2012 9:46 pm

romothesavior wrote:
JCougar wrote:1) forced curve or non-forced curve, the process is mostly unpredictable. law grades have little to nothing to do with how hard you work and whether you understand the material or not, no matter which school you go to. it's an incredibly vacuous and ritualistic process with little grounding in reality or practicality. the law school curriculum has nearly zero grounding 1) pedagogically, 2) from an assessment standpoint, or 3) from a training standpoint -- and that includes the exams.

Just want to point out to the 0Ls: While most of us would agree that exams are stupid and grading can at times be a bit of a mystery, few people in the school would sign on to the JCougar's argument here, at least in terms of degree. Some of the things he is saying here are correct (in varying degrees), but this is a bit extreme IMO.

I know I've said this before, but I wanted to add this caveat for those of you who missed the pages upon pages of bickering about this a few months ago.


Romo: Thanks for the heads up. Could you steer me to the thread you're referencing? I missed it. As a side note, your insights into Wash U have been invaluable to this 0L who is considering attending. Thanks for all the info in this thread and others.

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Kabuo
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Re: WUSTL 2L Taking Questions

Postby Kabuo » Tue May 01, 2012 10:03 pm

KellyFan2000 wrote:Thanks, guys! I really appreciate you taking time to answer questions. I'm down to deciding between a few schools and this really helps with the decision-making process.

I've got a couple more questions I hope you might address:

1) Could you speak to the lack of a forced curve and how much it realistically affects one's ability to place well in the class? If one puts his/her head down, works hard utilizing the collective TLS wisdom, and is able to excel on exams, is he/she still going to place well in the class, or does the lack of forced curve throw a unimaginable amount of unpredictability into the whole process?

2) For those who are interested in clerking, approximately how high in the class must one finish to have a shot at Article III clerkships? (If applying broadly -- not gunning for the uber-competive districts like southern NY, DC appeals, etc. which now basically require a few years of practice following a YHSCCN JD.)


What are you talking about re (1)? Every class we take as 1Ls is curved. Is this about it being a mean and not a median? Or are you asking about upper level courses?

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JCougar
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Re: WUSTL 2L Taking Questions

Postby JCougar » Tue May 01, 2012 10:15 pm

Kabuo wrote:What are you talking about re (1)? Every class we take as 1Ls is curved. Is this about it being a mean and not a median? Or are you asking about upper level courses?


It's about how professors here only have to adhere to a mean test score, but around that mean they can hand out any kinds of grades they want. For example, the mean score of ten scores of 86 and one score of 97 is still 87. That would be an allowed distribution of scores here -- there's no requirement that the distribution around the mean be even-handed.

Some professors decided to give out like four 100s, and that made it difficult for the entire rest of the class to get a decent grade.

Many other schools, I guess, have a set number of A, A-, B+ grades, etc. that they can give out.

In the end, I don't think it makes much of a difference, because most professors evenly distribute along a general bell-curve shape. But some don't.
Last edited by JCougar on Tue May 01, 2012 10:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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deebs
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Re: WUSTL 2L Taking Questions

Postby deebs » Tue May 01, 2012 10:17 pm

we have a forced mean, which isn't like other schools that have forced curves (X amount of A, A-, B+, B, etc). Also, what J Cougar said, some follow, some don't. Greenfield curves to the lowest median allowed, which means the 18th best grade in his class is a 90, while in another contracts class, its a 93. But, you'll have three professors, and everyone will most likely have one professor who purposefully bones students for no reason.

In terms of CSO, they will do what you ask them to, but it's not like they pick up the phone, make a call and you have a job. The economy is awful, and if you show your face around, they will e-mail you things that aren't generally posted. You never know how you're going to do in school. 1 bad grade (low to mid 80's) in 1L year and you aren't going to be in the top 15-20% unless you are getting A's on everything else. On the other hand, mostly median grades and a very high 90's will put you in top 1/3. It seems like unless you have IP or other factors going for you, that top 15-20% is the safe zone for big law. People in the 2L class are going tons of big firms all the way up, and people in the top third still don't have jobs. The whole process is a combination of luck and connections unless you are in the safe zone.
Last edited by deebs on Tue May 01, 2012 10:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Kabuo
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Re: WUSTL 2L Taking Questions

Postby Kabuo » Tue May 01, 2012 10:20 pm

Right, that's what I was asking when I asked if he was referring to the mean. Only 1/6 of my professors has done something like what JCougar is talking about. I think he gave out 3 99s and a ton of 83s last year. The rest all have approximately bell curves.

Wooostl2012
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Re: WUSTL 2L Taking Questions

Postby Wooostl2012 » Tue May 01, 2012 10:28 pm

Kabuo wrote:Right, that's what I was asking when I asked if he was referring to the mean. Only 1/6 of my professors has done something like what JCougar is talking about. I think he gave out 3 99s and a ton of 83s last year. The rest all have approximately bell curves.


The vast majority of professors, at least in the classes I've been in, approximate a bell curve. The 1L professor that gave out four 100s was definitely an anomaly, and I don't think teaches at Wash U anymore anyway...

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JCougar
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Re: WUSTL 2L Taking Questions

Postby JCougar » Tue May 01, 2012 10:32 pm

Wooostl2012 wrote:
Kabuo wrote:Right, that's what I was asking when I asked if he was referring to the mean. Only 1/6 of my professors has done something like what JCougar is talking about. I think he gave out 3 99s and a ton of 83s last year. The rest all have approximately bell curves.


The vast majority of professors, at least in the classes I've been in, approximate a bell curve. The 1L professor that gave out four 100s was definitely an anomaly, and I don't think teaches at Wash U anymore anyway...


Yup...she was asked not to come back. But not before permanently screwing my GPA (as well as many others). She teaches legal research at a TTT now.

I think I gave her one of the better reviews during the class eval though. I know tons of people that just went to town. Just another example of the lack of predictability in the whole process.

Wooostl2012
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Re: WUSTL 2L Taking Questions

Postby Wooostl2012 » Tue May 01, 2012 10:35 pm

KellyFan2000 wrote:Thanks, guys! I really appreciate you taking time to answer questions. I'm down to deciding between a few schools and this really helps with the decision-making process.

I've got a couple more questions I hope you might address:

1) Could you speak to the lack of a forced curve and how much it realistically affects one's ability to place well in the class? If one puts his/her head down, works hard utilizing the collective TLS wisdom, and is able to excel on exams, is he/she still going to place well in the class, or does the lack of forced curve throw a unimaginable amount of unpredictability into the whole process?

2) For those who are interested in clerking, approximately how high in the class must one finish to have a shot at Article III clerkships? (If applying broadly -- not gunning for the uber-competive districts like southern NY, DC appeals, etc. which now basically require a few years of practice following a YHSCCN JD.)



I think the forced curve portion of question one isn't the troubling part, it's the idea that you can work hard, utilize collective wisdom and excel on exams. I mean, your question assumes that one excels, and then asks if the curve makes it unpredictale - the answer to which is largely no - but I'd be more concerned about that first part. You can know ever Arrow trick in the book and you still might do poorly - JCougar is right in this sense.

That said, I don't think it's random. Some people, like JCougar has said for him, might be all over the map on finals, but for many people, there's a general range you stay within, and there's a lot of consistenty between exams, whcih suggests it isn't arbitrary or at a professor's whims.



ON clerkships - if you're looking appellate, I'd plan on being top 10%, and maybe even top 5% if you have zero connections. Maybe a lot of my classmates have clerkships and don't talk about it, but nearly all of them that I know that have appellate ones were top 5%.

I think district clerkships might be easier, but if you have no connections, it'd still be wise to be top 20%, or on Law Review. Wash U doesn't do great in clerkships.

Wooostl2012
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Re: WUSTL 2L Taking Questions

Postby Wooostl2012 » Tue May 01, 2012 10:38 pm

JCougar wrote:
Wooostl2012 wrote:
Kabuo wrote:Right, that's what I was asking when I asked if he was referring to the mean. Only 1/6 of my professors has done something like what JCougar is talking about. I think he gave out 3 99s and a ton of 83s last year. The rest all have approximately bell curves.


The vast majority of professors, at least in the classes I've been in, approximate a bell curve. The 1L professor that gave out four 100s was definitely an anomaly, and I don't think teaches at Wash U anymore anyway...


Yup...she was asked not to come back. But not before permanently screwing my GPA (as well as many others). She teaches legal research at a TTT now.

I think I gave her one of the better reviews during the class eval though. I know tons of people that just went to town. Just another example of the lack of predictability in the whole process.



I won't go into this again, because I know you've rehashed this argument with Romo a lot, but I will say that I've only experienced one class with an extremely random curve like that... out of 20+. The only time it will have a dramatic effect is 1L, and your experience seems much less common.

That's all, I won't argue it otherwise.

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notedgarfigaro
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Re: WUSTL 2L Taking Questions

Postby notedgarfigaro » Tue May 01, 2012 10:39 pm

Personally, I owe CSO a cake or a pie- my job this 1L summer is directly due to a personal reach out on their behalf. However, that's definitely not the norm.

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JCougar
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Re: WUSTL 2L Taking Questions

Postby JCougar » Tue May 01, 2012 10:43 pm

Wooostl2012 wrote:I won't go into this again, because I know you've rehashed this argument with Romo a lot, but I will say that I've only experienced one class with an extremely random curve like that... out of 20+. The only time it will have a dramatic effect is 1L, and your experience seems much less common.

That's all, I won't argue it otherwise.


I don't mean to suggest it's normal or all classes are like that, but one terrible grade can entirely ruin your OCI unless you basically ace everything else. There's already not a lot of room for error ITE.

Even without that grade, I was probably marginal for OCI, but it would have been nice to have a chance.

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soccerfreak
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Re: WUSTL 2L Taking Questions

Postby soccerfreak » Wed May 02, 2012 4:19 am

Can anyone explain the difference between Early Interview week and the normal OCI sessions?

Oban
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Re: WUSTL 2L Taking Questions

Postby Oban » Wed May 02, 2012 10:56 am

I think the exams and grading can be kind of absurd at times, but it's not completely random. Most of my grades have been in the same general 2-4 point spread. However I have had some OMGWTF grades as well; the difference between my highest and lowest grade so far in law school is 13 points, and the High grade came in a class I did not make and outline for and completely winged.

Also, don't forget things like uncurved/soft curved seminars. I took one in which the professor seriously boned nearly half the class (of like 13 people) with low grades, when there was no reason to besides a sense of "rigor" or something.

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Re: WUSTL 2L Taking Questions

Postby J-tow10 » Wed May 02, 2012 11:04 am

KellyFan2000 wrote:I saw where Mike Spivey left Wash U. I've read in previous threads that students had a lot of good things to say about him. How do current Wash U students feel about his replacement? Is the CSO still top-notch at Wash U? It's one of the last few schools I'm still considering and I was curious about this.

One other question for current Wash U students: what has been your experience with the alumni network? Are Wash U alumni generally receptive to outreach from current students and helpful with respect to networking/job hunts? In other words, do they seem to have a great deal of loyalty to the school?


I'm not sure that most students here would characterize CSO as "top-notch." Perhaps it's due to the economy but I think there are a lot of people who are generally displeased with CSO. That said, I'm sure that's the sentiment you'll find at most law schools right now. You need to make CSO work for you. Make specific requests, be polite, and they will help you.

As far as alumni go, I think most alums are receptive although I don't think the alumni network is quite as strong as some other t-20 schools.

J-tow10
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Re: WUSTL 2L Taking Questions

Postby J-tow10 » Wed May 02, 2012 11:08 am

KellyFan2000 wrote:Thanks, guys! I really appreciate you taking time to answer questions. I'm down to deciding between a few schools and this really helps with the decision-making process.

I've got a couple more questions I hope you might address:

1) Could you speak to the lack of a forced curve and how much it realistically affects one's ability to place well in the class? If one puts his/her head down, works hard utilizing the collective TLS wisdom, and is able to excel on exams, is he/she still going to place well in the class, or does the lack of forced curve throw a unimaginable amount of unpredictability into the whole process?

2) For those who are interested in clerking, approximately how high in the class must one finish to have a shot at Article III clerkships? (If applying broadly -- not gunning for the uber-competive districts like southern NY, DC appeals, etc. which now basically require a few years of practice following a YHSCCN JD.)


As to (1), working hard is by no means a guarantee to good grades. Everyone works hard and only 10% of the class can be in the top 10% of the class. I've found that my grades are better for the semesters that I didn't put in as much effort. There's an art (a learnable art in fact) to writing exams. Read old model answers and try to emulate them. Writing specifically to your professor will get you a long way. My writing style on one exam is often very different from my writing style for another exam.

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romothesavior
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Re: WUSTL 2L Taking Questions

Postby romothesavior » Wed May 02, 2012 11:26 am

soccerfreak wrote:Can anyone explain the difference between Early Interview week and the normal OCI sessions?

They're essentially the same thing. Most of the top employers come to EIW though.

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deebs
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Re: WUSTL 2L Taking Questions

Postby deebs » Wed May 02, 2012 12:49 pm

Since I'm on a terror..

My one honest gripe about the CSO - they won't ever give me data. I wanted data on the firms coming to OCI, what GPA they hired, what they look for, etc. I wanted data on where 2L's get jobs for the summer after striking out. I now want data on where 3L's are finding jobs. I don't know if the don't give it to me because it doesn't exist, or (what I think) they don't want actual hard data coming out. Other schools (from reading posts on here) seem to have all that data and more.

Before someone says the "becker project," a school admin rolled eyes when I asked about it. It is basically just tracks e-mails/correspondence with firms. If no one in CSO e-mailed said firm you are interested in working at in the past year, there's no information. I'm sure it will be good in about 3 or 4 years, but it's not like they just pull up this thing, and are like, hmm, you can probably work at X.

In regards to alumni network, I'm sure if you want to be in St. Louis, it's great. About 1 out of 5 alums I e-mail will at least respond, but if you're trying to end up in any other city, it's relatively difficult/expensive to get there to meet people.

All being said, I wouldn't advise anyone to come to school here without at least a 25,000/year scholarship, maybe 20,000. The chances at big law to be able to pay off the debt otherwise is low, and the government isn't really hiring to get your loans forgiven. If you've got around 150,000 debt or more, IBR only means that you'll never even touch your principle in 20 years because the interest accruing every year will be higher than what you pay. Then you pay 35% of whatever your forgiven debt is because the IRS lists it as a form of income. Good luck having saved up the extra 135,000 required w/o cleaning out your savings to meet that burden. If your debt is under 100k, it's actually doable to pay it off at a little over 10k a year for 20 years
Last edited by deebs on Wed May 02, 2012 1:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.




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