Columbia vs GULC

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pianolesspianist

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Columbia vs GULC

Post by pianolesspianist » Sun Apr 26, 2020 12:07 pm

Hi errybody!

This cycle has been moving painfully slowly, and these are my current options/situation (debt means total debt upon graduation, after scholarship offers and including cost of living/family aid/personal savings etc):

* Columbia - 185k debt (25k total scholarship)
* Cornell - 119k debt (84k total scholarship - final offer)
* Georgetown - 111k debt (90k total scholarship - 'no more funds currently available; we'll be in touch if that changes')
* WUSTL - 0k debt (full-ride scholarship)
[Waitlisted at Chicago, Northwestern and NYU]


Career Goals: I'm not 100% certain. Impact litigation seems ideal, though I'm told it's extremely hard to get into. Still, I'm definitely much more PI oriented (in the public policy/human rights sense, not so much the PD sense) though I'm not completely opposed to a year or two of biglaw. A lot of my aversion to debt comes from the fact that I'm not entirely certain where I want to end up (or where I can realistically expect to end up in the PI world).

I'm not at all interested in living in Ithaca, so I've ruled out Cornell. And while WUSTL's offer is appealing to me since it involves no risk, it's also much less likely to lead to impact lit.

So, if you were in my shoes, would you take a risk and go to GULC, or take a bigger risk and go to Columbia?
Also, if anyone here is currently paying off 100k+ in student loans, or using their school's LRAP, please tell me more about your situation either here or via PM

Thanks so much!

crazywafflez

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Re: Columbia vs GULC

Post by crazywafflez » Sun Apr 26, 2020 12:47 pm

This is a great position to be in, congrats! I'd honestly pick Cornell hah. But given your distaste for living there, and with your options and interests, I think I'd pick Columbia. GULC is a fine school, and I could see someone justifying the cost difference there and picking it- but to me I'd pay the 60-70k more for Columbia. I may be unfairly biased against Gtown, but I would pick any of the other T14s over it- if your scenario were Cornell at that price point or Columbia, or Duke or Columbia, I'd pick Cornell or Duke over it probably.
I think others will have better insight on the matter and best of luck.

plurilingue

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Re: Columbia vs GULC

Post by plurilingue » Sun Apr 26, 2020 1:05 pm

Hands down Columbia. I personally would pay way more than this cost differential to go to CLS over GULC and I think that’s a popular conclusion. Over MVPB, that’s a a bit harder, but still justifiable given your career aspirations.

Unclear why there are no other CNMVPB options. I would wait out the WLs and send out tailored LOCI, mentioning that you are grateful for your Columbia admission offer and scholarship, but that you are still very interested in their school given that you are a particularly cost-sensitive applicant. My guess is that you are being yield protected at many schools that figure people with your stats have previously ended up at CLS or some other higher-ranked school. The fact that you are inquiring about their school and implicitly asking for a scholarship with an admit letter will probably result in an admit with some money. If needing lots and lots of scholarships, see what Northwestern throws at you after you have done the above and can send them the most compelling rival offers.

Also, given your career goals, and given that you may not be competitive at YHS, NYU should be on your list with the right scholarship. Make sure to compare LRAPs very carefully.

AdieuCali

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Re: Columbia vs GULC

Post by AdieuCali » Sun Apr 26, 2020 1:20 pm

plurilingue wrote:Unclear why there are no other CNMVPB options.
...
Also, given your career goals, and given that you may not be competitive at YHS, NYU should be on your list with the right scholarship. Make sure to compare LRAPs very carefully.
+1

Given OP's goals and the generosity of NYU's LRAP, it seems like NYU (sticker) > CLS w/$. Also if predictions for low yields are correct and we see a lot of W/L movement this summer, any of Y/H/S or NYU at sticker would make more sense than CLS ($). Chicago at sticker might be cheaper than CLS ($) once you factor in COL.

If these are your only options right now, a deposit at CLS ($) is defensible. But keep your options open.

pianolesspianist

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Re: Columbia vs GULC

Post by pianolesspianist » Sun Apr 26, 2020 1:29 pm

Yeah NYU is absolutely on my list, but as mentioned, they waitlisted me so I'm working under the assumption that it's not an option.

And I was rejected at YH. Stanford hasn't gotten back to me since I applied in October, so I'm taking their radio silence as a no O_o

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plurilingue

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Re: Columbia vs GULC

Post by plurilingue » Sun Apr 26, 2020 2:16 pm

pianolesspianist wrote:Yeah NYU is absolutely on my list, but as mentioned, they waitlisted me so I'm working under the assumption that it's not an option.

And I was rejected at YH. Stanford hasn't gotten back to me since I applied in October, so I'm taking their radio silence as a no O_o
You shouldn’t be operating under any such assumptions. As said, schools are yield protecting you because people with your stats in previous cycles have not gone to their school. Sending them a well-drafted, enthusiastic letter and mentioning that you are interested even though you are holding other admissions offers from “peer schools such as Columbia,” but are concerned about making your legal educational financially work, could be compelling to them. CLS may disregard a large scholarship from UVA and UMich, but NYU might not, and if NYU gives you some real money, CLS might too. Negotiate hard and see where the right price-quality ratio is. There is a lot of room for this kind of activity in most situations.

Anony1234

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Re: Columbia vs GULC

Post by Anony1234 » Sun Apr 26, 2020 2:31 pm

pianolesspianist wrote:Yeah NYU is absolutely on my list, but as mentioned, they waitlisted me so I'm working under the assumption that it's not an option.

And I was rejected at YH. Stanford hasn't gotten back to me since I applied in October, so I'm taking their radio silence as a no O_o
Unpopular opinion that people will no doubt pan--I would never take on $185k for law school unless I was absolutely sure on BigLaw. With that much debt, you will almost assuredly need BigLaw money to pay it off in any reasonable amount of time. Debt will hinder your decision making no matter what benefit added by the school or firm name on your resume. If you're currently leaning towards PI, or even impact lit, take your potential debt seriously and weigh out what a LRAP lifestyle looks like.

I'm a few years out, working for a federal agency, and have saved much more than friends who went to BigLaw and still fighting to pay off the enormous debt loads they took on. I graduated without debt and had the luxury of making a FedGov job work financially. Granted I didn't have the grades for BigLaw coming from the school where I went, but I still get BigLaw lateral offers fairly regularly now. Take my personal anecdote with a grain of salt except hopefully shows it's not impossible to have that outcome out of a lower ranked school.

All that said, I would go GULC and (potentially) seriously consider the full ride at WashU. If you change your mind on BigLaw, you still have a reasonable enough shot at either of these schools (obviously GULC in particular). Regardless, you'll have the flexibility to consider PI with your debt load and not get stuck on a BigLaw track out of necessity.

**Ducking out now so people can give their prestige lectures and tell me all the ways I'm wrong. Good job on a good cycle. A lot of good options to consider. :)

pianolesspianist

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Re: Columbia vs GULC

Post by pianolesspianist » Sun Apr 26, 2020 2:35 pm

plurilingue wrote:
pianolesspianist wrote:Yeah NYU is absolutely on my list, but as mentioned, they waitlisted me so I'm working under the assumption that it's not an option.

And I was rejected at YH. Stanford hasn't gotten back to me since I applied in October, so I'm taking their radio silence as a no O_o
You shouldn’t be operating under any such assumptions. As said, schools are yield protecting you because people with your stats in previous cycles have not gone to their school. Sending them a well-drafted, enthusiastic letter and mentioning that you are interested even though you are holding other admissions offers from “peer schools such as Columbia,” but are concerned about making your legal educational financially work, could be compelling to them. CLS may disregard a large scholarship from UVA and UMich, but NYU might not, and if NYU gives you some real money, CLS might too. Negotiate hard and see where the right price-quality ratio is. There is a lot of room for this kind of activity in most situations.

Interesting. My LSAT is only 173 - is that really a reason for NYU to yield protect? I was under the impression that this would only be the case with the lower T14, not T6 schools.....

The Lsat Airbender

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Re: Columbia vs GULC

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Sun Apr 26, 2020 3:22 pm

You're right, OP. People assign way too much predictive power to yield protection around here. It happens, but rarely, especially in the T6.

173 gives you a comparative advantage at CLS, relative to NYU, because they need those to maintain their median. NYU probably accepted some 172 with a better GPA, or other aspects they liked—and that candidate probably got rejected or waitlisted by Columbia.

Agree with everyone that Columbia is worth the extra price over GULC for your goals. It's sad that you apparently didn't apply to (at least some of) Berkeley, Penn, Michigan, UVA or Duke, all of which could have been great outcomes.

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AdieuCali

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Re: Columbia vs GULC

Post by AdieuCali » Sun Apr 26, 2020 3:33 pm

Anony1234 wrote:
Unpopular opinion that people will no doubt pan--I would never take on $185k for law school unless I was absolutely sure on BigLaw.

I'm a few years out, working for a federal agency, and have saved much more than friends who went to BigLaw and still fighting to pay off the enormous debt loads they took on. I graduated without debt and had the luxury of making a FedGov job work financially.

All that said, I would go GULC and (potentially) seriously consider the full ride at WashU. If you change your mind on BigLaw, you still have a reasonable enough shot at either of these schools (obviously GULC in particular). Regardless, you'll have the flexibility to consider PI with your debt load and not get stuck on a BigLaw track out of necessity.

**Ducking out now so people can give their prestige lectures and tell me all the ways I'm wrong. Good job on a good cycle. A lot of good options to consider. :)
I think your advice is very good for general PI-interested candidates and it sounds like you have a dream job/lifestyle as a debt-free fedgov attorney. In the past I've argued for PI focused people to take WUSTL w/$$$$ over T13 w/$. If OP wanted to work for an immigration nonprofit or regional fedgov, then WUSTL might be the smartest choice. But OP's stated career goals are:
pianolesspianist wrote: Impact litigation seems ideal, though I'm told it's extremely hard to get into. Still, I'm definitely much more PI oriented (in the public policy/human rights sense, not so much the PD sense)
Not everyone is prestige-focused, but OP's desired employers are.

And you have a great point about the LRAP lifestyle - for many lawyers taking advantage of that program, it means taking a vow of poverty ($55k income caps for 10 years, often in major cities!). CLS's LRAP is slightly more generous than GULC's (especially when it comes to spousal income), which may be an important factor.

Given that, I think both CLS and GULC are defensible choices.

But if OP can hustle his way off NYU's W/L, their insanely generous LRAP might mean he has the most cash in hand in 5, 10, 13 years from now compared to if he were a CLS or GULC grad.

https://www.law.georgetown.edu/admissio ... /lrap-iii/
https://www.law.columbia.edu/sites/defa ... eb2019.pdf
https://www.law.nyu.edu/financialaid/lrap
The Lsat Airbender wrote: It's sad that you apparently didn't apply to (at least some of) Berkeley, Penn, Michigan, UVA or Duke, all of which could have been great outcomes.
+1. Anyone who is competitive for more than 1 T13 should apply to all of them.
https://mylsn.info/k4d0hh/

pianolesspianist

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Re: Columbia vs GULC

Post by pianolesspianist » Sun Apr 26, 2020 11:36 pm

AdieuCali wrote:
Anony1234 wrote:
Unpopular opinion that people will no doubt pan--I would never take on $185k for law school unless I was absolutely sure on BigLaw.

I'm a few years out, working for a federal agency, and have saved much more than friends who went to BigLaw and still fighting to pay off the enormous debt loads they took on. I graduated without debt and had the luxury of making a FedGov job work financially.

All that said, I would go GULC and (potentially) seriously consider the full ride at WashU. If you change your mind on BigLaw, you still have a reasonable enough shot at either of these schools (obviously GULC in particular). Regardless, you'll have the flexibility to consider PI with your debt load and not get stuck on a BigLaw track out of necessity.

**Ducking out now so people can give their prestige lectures and tell me all the ways I'm wrong. Good job on a good cycle. A lot of good options to consider. :)
I think your advice is very good for general PI-interested candidates and it sounds like you have a dream job/lifestyle as a debt-free fedgov attorney. In the past I've argued for PI focused people to take WUSTL w/$$$$ over T13 w/$. If OP wanted to work for an immigration nonprofit or regional fedgov, then WUSTL might be the smartest choice. But OP's stated career goals are:
pianolesspianist wrote: Impact litigation seems ideal, though I'm told it's extremely hard to get into. Still, I'm definitely much more PI oriented (in the public policy/human rights sense, not so much the PD sense)
Not everyone is prestige-focused, but OP's desired employers are.

And you have a great point about the LRAP lifestyle - for many lawyers taking advantage of that program, it means taking a vow of poverty ($55k income caps for 10 years, often in major cities!). CLS's LRAP is slightly more generous than GULC's (especially when it comes to spousal income), which may be an important factor.

Given that, I think both CLS and GULC are defensible choices.

But if OP can hustle his way off NYU's W/L, their insanely generous LRAP might mean he has the most cash in hand in 5, 10, 13 years from now compared to if he were a CLS or GULC grad.

https://www.law.georgetown.edu/admissio ... /lrap-iii/
https://www.law.columbia.edu/sites/defa ... eb2019.pdf
https://www.law.nyu.edu/financialaid/lrap
The Lsat Airbender wrote: It's sad that you apparently didn't apply to (at least some of) Berkeley, Penn, Michigan, UVA or Duke, all of which could have been great outcomes.
+1. Anyone who is competitive for more than 1 T13 should apply to all of them.
https://mylsn.info/k4d0hh/
55k income cap? My understanding is that CLS LRAP expects students to contribute 34.5% of adjusted gross income over 55k. Is that not the case?

AdieuCali

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Re: Columbia vs GULC

Post by AdieuCali » Mon Apr 27, 2020 8:37 am

pianolesspianist wrote: 55k income cap? My understanding is that CLS LRAP expects students to contribute 34.5% of adjusted gross income over 55k. Is that not the case?
Yes, that is correct. Sorry, I was referring to LRAP programs in general. Many LRAPs below the T13 have $55k caps and even some T13s only prorate above $55k to a certain threshold (e.g. $80k/yr).

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Re: Columbia vs GULC

Post by beinghuman » Mon Apr 27, 2020 10:39 pm

I personally wouldn't rule out Cornell just because you don't want to live in Ithaca for 3 years. I think that, given your options, Cornell gives you the optimal combination of lower cost and good placement power. Moreover, you probably will have little time to go out during your first year. Plus, your three years will go by very quickly, you will not spend your summers in Ithaca, and you can always do a semester abroad or their NY program for a semester.
I went to law school in a big city and I don't feel that I got to enjoy the city as much as I would have liked to-- the majority of my time was spent on campus or with people from campus.

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