Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Too much educational debt and not enough job opportunities is not just a law school problem

Though this article from Bloomberg does mention a recent law grad who worries that his $160k in law school debt will affect every aspect of his life for the next 25 years, including whether he can afford to raise children. 

"Trapped by a $50,000 Degree in a Low Paying Job"

Laura Sayer, unsure of what she wanted to do after graduating from college in 2006, figured a master’s degree was “a safe bet.”

With $5,000 in undergraduate loans from her time at the University of Cincinnati, Sayer was set back $50,000 more after completing the Interdisciplinary Master’s Program in Humanities and Social Thought at New York University. The 27-year-old now makes about $45,000 a year as an administrative assistant for a nonprofit group, a job that didn’t require her advanced degree.

More people are losing the same gamble as a 33 percent jump in U.S. graduate school enrollment in the past decade, coupled with an 80 percent surge in tuition and required fees, runs headlong into a weaker job market. Universities are fueling the trend by offering more one- and two-year programs in areas from environmental science to sports management that rarely come with financial aid other than the option for loans.

“Students need to be more skeptical that the income, debt and job-placement statistics that they’re being shown about graduate schools may not reflect individual experiences,” said Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of, a website with educational-lending information. “It’s like the advertisements on TV for weight-loss programs: the results are not typical.”

. . . .

Gerrald Ellis, 28, took about $160,000 in federal loans to attend Fordham Law School, and then spent a year searching for a job. He eventually found work at a four-lawyer firm in White Plains, New York, doing consumer protection work.

Because his student debt is so high compared to his salary, Ellis said he expects to qualify for a plan that would let him pay 15 percent of his salary for 25 years, and whatever debt is left after that is forgiven.

“I’m trapped for at least two decades,” said Ellis, who lives in Harlem with a classmate who also borrowed more than $100,000. “The debt has an impact on everything, where I decide to live, what job I take. I can’t even imagine having kids with this kind of debt burden. Multiply that by a whole generation.”

You can continue reading here.


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