Stanford ($$$) v. Ruby

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wayfaringstranger

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Stanford ($$$) v. Ruby

Post by wayfaringstranger » Mon Apr 05, 2021 11:46 am

I was pretty much set to take the Ruby until I received a generous aid package from Stanford. That, along with a family gift, would allow me to cover tuition. I would then have to rely on my savings, a part-time gig this summer, and loans to cover cost of living. Ideally, I would only be looking to take out loans to cover cost of living. My goals are to clerk, work in BigLaw for a few years to jumpstart my savings, and then move laterally into government practice. I would like the flexibility to transition out of law years down the road.

Rationally, the upsides for the Ruby are all there. There’s the money and the opportunities for institutional support. The Midwest is home for me, so I would have family and friends in the area who could support me as I go through 1L. Although I think I would prefer to practice on the East Coast (where I did undergrad), I know that Chicago could get me back there.

Despite those upsides, I still feel inclined to take Stanford. I’ve had great conversations with alumni and students that make me feel that Stanford is just a better fit. I also prefer the HP/P/F grading system because I know that I will get very stressed out if I had to abide by a very granular grading system (something that has come into play in the past). Stanford seems to marginally have a better infrastructure and culture for public interest/government work. And the weather and opportunity to try out a new environment/location are also appealing. Apart from those factors, there seems to be many more similarities between the schools (i.e. small class size, quarter system) than differences (i.e. full-time v. part-time clinics).

Of course, I think I might be able to get over all of my small preferences for Stanford if/when I can afford a nice apartment to myself in Chicago and go on great vacations between quarters. But there's a part of me that's concerned that I will always be wondering "what if," were I to take the Ruby over Stanford.

My questions for you all: how much should I weigh “fit”/going with my gut? Would it still be crazy to turn down the Ruby with this much aid from Stanford?

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Dcc617

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Re: Stanford ($$$) v. Ruby

Post by Dcc617 » Mon Apr 05, 2021 12:07 pm

How did you get aid if you got a sizable family gift? Isn't Stanford totally need-based?

wayfaringstranger

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Re: Stanford ($$$) v. Ruby

Post by wayfaringstranger » Mon Apr 05, 2021 12:22 pm

Dcc617 wrote:
Mon Apr 05, 2021 12:07 pm
How did you get aid if you got a sizable family gift? Isn't Stanford totally need-based?
Yes! I had reported it on my financial aid forms (to be fair, it's not super sizable—only a few thousand—but it is money that my parents had saved after I was fortunate enough to go through undergraduate on a full ride). Nevertheless, Stanford had factored that in when calculating my financial aid.

wayfaringstranger

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Re: Stanford ($$$) v. Ruby

Post by wayfaringstranger » Mon Apr 05, 2021 3:09 pm

Was prompted to look back at the award letter and redo the math. Tuition wouldn't be *entirely* covered with the fellowship and my parents' small contribution, but it would come out to be <$10K tuition that I would have to take out in loans or pay through my savings. This would add onto the total amount of loans I would be taking out for cost of living, miscellaneous fees at Stanford.

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Dcc617

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Re: Stanford ($$$) v. Ruby

Post by Dcc617 » Mon Apr 05, 2021 3:25 pm

COL loans can still suck, but you're looking at like $80K total debt? That can pretty hefty when you have free UC on the table.

Ultimately defensible either way though.

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CanadianWolf

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Re: Stanford ($$$) v. Ruby

Post by CanadianWolf » Mon Apr 05, 2021 6:52 pm

If you have to ask, then just pick the location that you prefer.

Iowahawk

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Re: Stanford ($$$) v. Ruby

Post by Iowahawk » Mon Apr 05, 2021 7:34 pm

Imo either choice could probably be reasonable here assuming you're representing the fellowship right. Note that the COL part of the Ruby exceeds actual COL in Chicago so you'd likely make a profit on going to law school and the COL in Palo Alto is high enough that there could be a significant difference. I'd figure out the actual difference and ask if your personal preference on location, grading, etc. makes the extra cost worth it to you given that your desired career path is equally accessible at both.

One consideration you don't note is that if you think you'd consider going back to the Midwest that's probably a point for Chicago, employers won't turn their noses up at Stanford or anything but Chicago obviously just has a much bigger network throughout the region.

crazywafflez

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Re: Stanford ($$$) v. Ruby

Post by crazywafflez » Mon Apr 05, 2021 10:18 pm

I'd take the Ruby. But S on the cheap (not that 70k or whatever the 3 years COA will be is something to sneeze at) is a good option. For your goals, I think Chi is the much better choice, however, you won't go wrong by picking Stanford.

180degrees

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Re: Stanford ($$$) v. Ruby

Post by 180degrees » Tue Apr 06, 2021 12:00 am

HYS engineer their financial aid programs such that the base loan package for anyone receiving aid is ~$50k/year. Maximum aid is roughly half the total cost of attendance (~$50k out of a total COA of ~$100k).

I'm assuming that you're factoring in dumping all of your savings into discounting your tuition to the level that you mention in your original post. Just be mindful that any income from this summer and subsequent summers working in a large firm will be factored into, and ultimately discounted against, any need-based aid you receive at SLS next year if you decide to go there.

The only ways you get out of owing less than ~$150k in debt upon graduating are 1) if you and your family's total wealth puts you in a position where you can pay more than $150k toward your education (in which case you wouldn't be qualifying for financial aid to begin with) or 2) you find housing that is notably cheaper than what SLS estimates your rent will be. I'll note that SLS does have a slightly higher estimated COA than YLS and HLS, so that's a large reason why the aid packages can sometimes appear slightly larger from SLS. Given roughly equivalent base loan packages between HYS but a higher estimated COA at SLS, SLS tends to give a few thousand dollars more in grant aid to make up the difference.

Even for folks who receive max aid at HYS, the cost differential between HYS max aid and the Ruby will be $150k plus accrued interest plus whatever you anticipate you'd make and have in savings/investments (as well as already have in savings/investments and won't have to take out) between now and graduating from Chicago. For most people, that's still going to be well over $200k.

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Necho2

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Re: Stanford ($$$) v. Ruby

Post by Necho2 » Tue Apr 06, 2021 1:35 am

Yeah if the cost differential is really what you say it is, I'd say either is entirely defensible, and to consider soft stuff like living preferences or whether you think you'll end up on the west coast or in the midwest. But I'd really drill down into your understanding of the financial aid package- I am shocked that you could get through SLS with such a low figure barring multiple dependents, and really be aware that they'll deduct summer earnings from your 2L/3L awards. But otherwise you're certainly in the range where 80k cost difference makes choosing SLS defensible, I only hesitate because it seems like you'd be quite happy at Chicago too.

I believe UChicago is 20k/year, so you're looking at 25k first year minimum (assuming PI summer stipend not SA or mid-paying 1L job), then a 36k SA plus 40k for 2L/3L, which should be plenty to live comfortably in Chicago. And agree w/ posters above that if you're planning on paying down savings to get these cost figures, remember that at Chicago you'll get to hang on to that money instead.

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Dcc617

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Re: Stanford ($$$) v. Ruby

Post by Dcc617 » Tue Apr 06, 2021 7:41 am

Also you’ll probably regret dumping your savings into law school tuition when you could have had Chicago for free.

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Sls17

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Re: Stanford ($$$) v. Ruby

Post by Sls17 » Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:20 pm

I think the pros/cons of this situation are close enough that you should just choose what makes you happier.

In case it's helpful: I came to SLS on a max aid package with just a little savings (less than 10k) and no outside support. By living pretty modestly, but still comfortably, I kept my total debt under 100k (just barely).

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