Help between choosing between UCI (tuition: 81k) and USC (139k)

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shens

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Help between choosing between UCI (tuition: 81k) and USC (139k)

Post by shens » Sat Apr 18, 2020 1:18 pm

Hey all, due to various reasons, my primary if not exclusive concern is becoming economically prosperous and secure. Given that, where would you go between UCI at 81k in tuition and USC at 131k in tuition, after scholarship?

Some additional information/factors if you're interested:

USC will also cost at least 400/month more in rent, by comparison of graduate housing for domestic partners.

My wife is still an undergrad and plans to be an MD, hence the financial concern: we're looking at a huge combined debt and she will not be making real money for a very long time. She can attend Irvine with me, but if I go to USC she will have to go to UCLA (and I suppose in the future one of us could transfer to the other school?). I am currently waitlisted at UCLA, unfortunately.

As an aside, I'd be very interested in any kind of advice about potentially lucrative or occupationally secure areas of law I could pursue or should avoid.

Thanks

The Lsat Airbender

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Re: Help between choosing between UCI (tuition: 81k) and USC (139k)

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Sat Apr 18, 2020 2:25 pm

Neither of these options is a good choice from a financial perspective. Your ROI is less than even money, and that understates the risk because most of the pecuniary value in law school is tied into jobs at big firms. If you don't get into a big firm (more likely than not, at UCI and USC) then your ROI is probably negative because you could have been doing something else for 3 years.

If you want to be reasonably sure of making more than ~$60k after graduation then you pretty much need to attend a T13. If you can't or won't go to a T13, then I would either learn to code or learn to sell things.

shens

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Re: Help between choosing between UCI (tuition: 81k) and USC (139k)

Post by shens » Sat Apr 18, 2020 6:20 pm

The Lsat Airbender wrote:Neither of these options is a good choice from a financial perspective. Your ROI is less than even money, and that understates the risk because most of the pecuniary value in law school is tied into jobs at big firms. If you don't get into a big firm (more likely than not, at UCI and USC) then your ROI is probably negative because you could have been doing something else for 3 years.

If you want to be reasonably sure of making more than ~$60k after graduation then you pretty much need to attend a T13. If you can't or won't go to a T13, then I would either learn to code or learn to sell things.
Thank you very much for keeping it real with me. If I am being honest, I suspected that neither option was great for me financially.

However, for various family reasons I have to continue on one of these courses even if you and I know I'm doomed.

Another possibility for me is Pepperdine at 52k total tuition, plus it's a local school so I wouldn't need a new place.

If all these things are financially irresponsible, which would you say is the least so?

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cavalier1138

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Re: Help between choosing between UCI (tuition: 81k) and USC (139k)

Post by cavalier1138 » Sat Apr 18, 2020 6:40 pm

shens wrote:However, for various family reasons I have to continue on one of these courses even if you and I know I'm doomed.
How on earth could your family want you to put yourself (and them, if you're talking about your wife) in a materially worse financial position than if you hadn't gone to law school?

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Re: Help between choosing between UCI (tuition: 81k) and USC (139k)

Post by crazywafflez » Sun Apr 19, 2020 12:34 am

This is just not a good decision to be at.
I think UCI is defensible at 80k CoA, max. 81k in just tuition though is pretty expensive; you'll be in too much debt with that. I mean, it'll be around 120k+ in debt. I just don't think it is worth it at that cost.
USC is like 200k. I just don't think that is a good investment. I would really think about not attending, or just waiting one more year. Retaking and getting better options is really the right move here.
I just want to say, like many other posters on here, I don't go to a T14 school. I'm not saying T14 or bust. But getting into this much debt is really insane. I think for a solid T1 regional school like Davis the range for debt for CoA should really be around 60-80k max.
For some uber regional schools in the T20 it is defensible, in my opinion, to maybe go 100-120k CoA debt(I'm really thinking of schools like Vandy- I'm much less familiar with schools out west but I'd think USC and UCLA fit into that). This is still insane debt and the lower the better, but I'd personally take that risk.
It is possible you can get biglaw from these schools, but always expect to be median or bottom half of your class; at UCI that isn't gonna place you into biglaw, at USC it's a coin's flip chance. If you miss that boat, you're in real trouble. You've got your wife's debt too. I just really think it is not a smart move.
Best of luck.

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beinghuman

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Re: Help between choosing between UCI (tuition: 81k) and USC (139k)

Post by beinghuman » Mon Apr 27, 2020 11:04 pm

I agree with Cavalier here. Your options are very risky. Plus, no one knows what kind of legal market you will face at graduation in light of the COVID pandemic.

Just a personal anecdote, a friend of mine was in a similar position a few years ago. When I advised him to retake the LSAT and wait for a year, he said he had family reasons compelling him not to wait. So he went to a low-ranked law school, did well, and graduated two years ago but still has not secured a legal job and will probably be unable to get one in the near future. He is worse off now than he would have been, had he waited for a year and attended a better school or just done something else with his life...

cavalier1138 wrote:
shens wrote:However, for various family reasons I have to continue on one of these courses even if you and I know I'm doomed.
How on earth could your family want you to put yourself (and them, if you're talking about your wife) in a materially worse financial position than if you hadn't gone to law school?

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Sackboy

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Re: Help between choosing between UCI (tuition: 81k) and USC (139k)

Post by Sackboy » Tue Apr 28, 2020 9:51 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
shens wrote:However, for various family reasons I have to continue on one of these courses even if you and I know I'm doomed.
How on earth could your family want you to put yourself (and them, if you're talking about your wife) in a materially worse financial position than if you hadn't gone to law school?
Yep, this makes zero sense. If OP's "primary if not exclusive concern is becoming economically prosperous and secure," then the answer is to retake the LSAT and reapply. Both of these options have a higher chance of causing you a lot of financial pain than they do prosperity. Unless someone is going to kill you or your wife or you're going to get disowned from your family if you don't go, there are no "reasons" to not delay. This just sounds like impatience, which users frequently use this "for reasons I can't tell you anonymously, I HAVE to go" excuse for all the time.

R&R might even better align with OP's wife's timeline for medical school. Also, as someone who is aware of what the med school app process looks like, unless your wife is a 520 MCAT + 3.95 GPA person with amazing ECs, there is an insanely high possibility that she won't get into a medical school wherever you're located or her medical school won't have a good law school around it.

This sounds like you're setting yourself up for a real nightmare, OP.

239840

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Re: Help between choosing between UCI (tuition: 81k) and USC (139k)

Post by 239840 » Wed Apr 29, 2020 12:35 am

The general consensus on here seems to be that if you're not going to go a school with strong Big Law placement, at least make sure you're getting a full-ride scholarship and will be able to minimize your debt. Not getting Big Law and having substantial debt on top of it wouldn't be much fun. These are great schools, but if you take out that much for tuition alone you'll be in some serious debt after you're finished with your JD.

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