Statement on Educational Loan Indebtedness
The Michigan State University College of Law Financial Aid Office recognizes that our students choose to enroll at the Law College with the expectation that their investment of effort, time, and money will provide the foundation for meaningful and rewarding employment for decades to come. We are aware that loan assistance is an integral source of financing law school for many law students and that the decision to borrow funds for law school is a highly individualized one based on each borrower’s personal and professional goals and circumstances, future earnings potential, debt from other educational programs or consumer debt, and comfort level with debt.
Recognizing that law school students and graduates nationally experience significant pressures as the result of high indebtedness,* and that many borrowers may not be well versed in financial planning, the MSU College of Law Financial Aid Office has established the following goals for the delivery of financial aid services and programming:
- To help prospective students develop a realistic, three-year budget that represents the direct and indirect costs associated with earning a law degree;
- To help prospective borrowers establish a thorough understanding of the costs and terms associated with federal and private loans, as well as the repayment obligations and repayment options associated with each type of loan;
- To encourage prospective borrowers to critically evaluate national, regional, and statewide salary information and to incorporate a “low, average, and above-average” approach when estimating their initial salary and the amount of future income that will be consumed by repayment of law-school and other educational loans;
- To encourage prospective borrowers to scrutinize and minimize discretionary expenses (e.g., living expenses, elective educational expenses) in order to reduce overall educational indebtedness;
- To provide timely information relating to local, regional, and national non-repayable types of financial aid that are available to law students, and to encourage law students to apply for these awards; and,
- To provide in-depth counseling to prospective students whose incoming federal loan debt exceeds $50,000.
In conclusion, the Law College Financial Aid Office expects and encourages each prospective borrower to carefully and to thoughtfully determine the amount of debt with which he or she is comfortable and to do so based on a full examination of the costs of borrowing, a realistic assessment of potential earnings, and with consideration given to other personal and professional goals that the student may have for the repayment period.
* Significant debt can have a wide range of consequences, including distraction from one’s studies; the necessity to accept (or remain in) employment that is financially rewarding but otherwise not fulfilling; high levels of stress during repayment; and the delayed ability or inability of borrowers to achieve other personal and professional goals such as home ownership and the establishment of a solid retirement fund.