Stanford vs. UVA ($$$)

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lsapplicant2119

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Stanford vs. UVA ($$$)

Post by lsapplicant2119 » Thu Apr 08, 2021 2:05 pm

Currently deciding between Stanford (sticker) and UVA (~$$$, not Dillard).

Total COA for UVA would be about $140k vs. the full freight $315k for Stanford. I will be funding my education via savings from a couple years working in financial services. I do not expect to have to take on much debt ($10-20k max depending on summer earning) if I were to go to Stanford. While I feel lucky to be in this position, I’m also not keen on the prospect of burning through substantial savings that could be put to other good uses, support a lifestyle, down payment, etc. particularly as I will be a couple years older than average. So a bit of a unique situation in that I won’t have loans to worry about, but it’s still a big financial lift.

In looking at the difference in COA, part of that is driven by higher COL in the Bay Area, which I do view as a more attractive place to spend 3 years, so have been looking at the difference primarily on tuition. So the question is: is the $130-$140k difference (and the related impact on financial flexibility) between Stanford and UVA worth it for the things I want to do or may want to do?

General idea is to do a FC or two and then regulatory / government work. Given my prior WE, I’m interested in financial regulatory agencies (SEC, OCC, CFTC), but these are also areas that have a somewhat natural BL side to them. I’m not married to this topical area, but it would be the most natural fit given what I’ve read about preference for prior WE in government hiring. Would be interested in doing some hybrid policy-type work longer term in my career. Not completely opposed to a year or two in BL if necessary to rebuild savings as I move into my 30s and settle down – in short, I’m okay with the revolving door, particularly later in my career. But I regularly work with BL on the transactional side and see a lot of similarities to my current job that I would not want to repeat, so would have to be litigation / regulatory side of the house. As you can see, I’m not super definitive on one path but have a general preference for government work. Is the additional prestige – for lack of a better word – of Stanford worth it to give me career flexibility or should I preference the financial flexibility of UVA, given lower paying government work? In short, how does one value the prestige in terms of long-term outcomes?

Other factors / context:
• Law school is tough for anyone, so not sure how I will do – Stanford provides downside protection with the P/H grading system
• Definitely focused on DC in the intermediate term, just given my career interests, but not opposed to the West coast. Don’t have significant ties to CA otherwise, as I’m from the Midwest with undergrad in the Northeast
• I took a full-ride for undergrad over higher-ranked schools, so have a bit of a personal bias toward not repeating that in order to not “limit” my options

Please let me know if I missed any relevant data. Thanks for reading and really appreciate your insight here.

Fireworks2016

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Re: Stanford vs. UVA ($$$)

Post by Fireworks2016 » Thu Apr 08, 2021 5:03 pm

I'd pick UVA in your shoes. That extra 150-200k in savings is better used funding a down-payment or your retirement than it is paying for S. Especially because you're focused on DC and want to transition to government work eventually.

AJordan

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Re: Stanford vs. UVA ($$$)

Post by AJordan » Thu Apr 08, 2021 6:44 pm

If you were headed to a firm I would think it a pretty complete toss up. However, wanting gvmt work leans me toward UVA pretty heavily. You'll want money working for you as soon as possible if that's your goal. That means hold on to every penny you already have.

crazywafflez

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Re: Stanford vs. UVA ($$$)

Post by crazywafflez » Fri Apr 09, 2021 10:47 am

I think UVA is the right pick here. It is still a lot of money, but your goals are fully obtainable from UVA and, while S is a bit "better", it isn't worth that cost differential and S isn't blowing UVA out of the water in any respect. I know it is hard to pull the trigger on the less shinny degree, but you'll get fairly similar outcomes, and UVA is a bit cozier, or so I've heard, with the feds. And, not that it is a big deal, but S grads do tend to stay on the west coast, while UVA grads stay on the east coast; most of that is self-selection but your alumni networks will be a tad stronger in those areas. I think UVA is the right call here.

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Dcc617

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Re: Stanford vs. UVA ($$$)

Post by Dcc617 » Fri Apr 09, 2021 12:55 pm

Oh god, don't blow hundreds of thousands in savings on Stanford when you have a big offer from UVA. UVA is a great school that will let you do whatever you want. Use your savings to invest, buy a house, whatever.

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Iowahawk

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Re: Stanford vs. UVA ($$$)

Post by Iowahawk » Sat Apr 10, 2021 3:02 pm

Easy, UVA.

DebtPrisoner

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Re: Stanford vs. UVA ($$$)

Post by DebtPrisoner » Sat Apr 10, 2021 4:52 pm

Contrarian view. I'd go Stanford.

You don't pay COA in a lump sum. I'd expect OP's financial situation and background would allow some of that money to grow before it gets spent. And you only get to do this once, and you don't want to be the guy going around saying/thinking "I went to UVA BUT I got into Stanford."

OPs professional background + Stanford would place him fine in any Fed or Big Law regulatory practice in DC or NY. Plus many of the interesting fintech stuff is coming out of the Bay Area, which DC offices are obviously very interested. SEC and CFPB have SF offices, I'm sure others do as well.

But mainly this:
lsapplicant2119 wrote:
Thu Apr 08, 2021 2:05 pm
Other factors / context:
• Law school is tough for anyone, so not sure how I will do – Stanford provides downside protection with the P/H grading system
• Definitely focused on DC in the intermediate term, just given my career interests, but not opposed to the West coast. Don’t have significant ties to CA otherwise, as I’m from the Midwest with undergrad in the Northeast
• I took a full-ride for undergrad over higher-ranked schools, so have a bit of a personal bias toward not repeating that in order to not “limit” my options
Downside protection is a real thing. Stanford's grading system is key for protecting OPs advantage as a prior working professional in the clerkship race. We all think we're going to do great in law school, until you're pitted against 22-year-olds who have been typing essay exams at 100 WPM for the past four years.

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Re: Stanford vs. UVA ($$$)

Post by CanadianWolf » Sun Apr 11, 2021 12:48 pm

In another thread, a different poster faces Virginia at $60,000 COA versus Harvard at $180,000-$200,000 COA.

Either is a reasonable choice for the other poster as the difference in debt is just $120,000-$140,000 which justifies downside protection for one expecting to work in biglaw for several years after law school.

In this thread the COA difference is $175,000 for one not interested in biglaw, but concerned about downside protection. While Stanford should yield greater downside protection, the COA difference of $175,000 may be too much for one not open to working in biglaw for a few years after law school.

A key difference is the downside protection earned by attending Harvard Law School over Virginia.

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Dcc617

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Re: Stanford vs. UVA ($$$)

Post by Dcc617 » Sun Apr 11, 2021 1:01 pm

Yeah, but UVA grads end up fine, and the ones who don't generally have something besides grades going on.

This is tip top vs tippy toppy. No need to exaggerate differences that won't exist for 95% of students.

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DebtPrisoner

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Re: Stanford vs. UVA ($$$)

Post by DebtPrisoner » Sun Apr 11, 2021 1:17 pm

My view would be different if we were talking a $175,000 in additional debt, but we're talking about spending money that OP has in the bank. Yes, OP will be 175k poorer either way, but will be out with a uniquely sparkly degree and little debt.
lsapplicant2119 wrote:
Thu Apr 08, 2021 2:05 pm
Total COA for UVA would be about $140k vs. the full freight $315k for Stanford. I will be funding my education via savings from a couple years working in financial services. I do not expect to have to take on much debt ($10-20k max depending on summer earning) if I were to go to Stanford. While I feel lucky to be in this position, I’m also not keen on the prospect of burning through substantial savings that could be put to other good uses, support a lifestyle, down payment, etc. particularly as I will be a couple years older than average. So a bit of a unique situation in that I won’t have loans to worry about, but it’s still a big financial lift.
It's really up to OP, how much they value lifestyle, being able to buy a house in an expensive market asap, etc., vs. going to Stanford. While UVA of course "places well in Washington" for your first job, so does Stanford, and that degree is more valuable if OP is seeking the most prestigious clerkships, and the highest long-term fed gov career ceiling. UVA might seem like the right call for short-term finances, but Stanford seems like a once-in-lifetime opportunity, particularly since OP has saved up for it.

The Lsat Airbender

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Re: Stanford vs. UVA ($$$)

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Mon Apr 12, 2021 3:50 pm

DebtPrisoner wrote:
Sun Apr 11, 2021 1:17 pm
While UVA of course "places well in Washington" for your first job, so does Stanford, and that degree is more valuable if OP is seeking the most prestigious clerkships, and the highest long-term fed gov career ceiling.
Bolded is why it's obvious you've pulled this out of your ass. Degree matters less as you progress through your career, not more, and there's no "ceiling" awaiting people who went to the wrong school (c.f. the most recent SCOTUS appointee).

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