The Student Debt Crisis
There were only a few people who saw the housing bubble of 2007 - 2008 coming, and when the bubble burst, it took down the whole financial economy all over the World. According to recent reports, if we do not act fast we may be headed towards another financial meltdown: The Student Debt Crisis.
Are we ready to deal with another financial meltdown? The answer is a simple ‘no’. It was only until recently that people in the U.S started taking even more seriously the issue of student debt. To give you an idea of the severity of the issue, here is a breakdown of the facts:
The total amount of outstanding student loan debt in the U.S is in excess of $1.2 trillion, which is more than the outstanding credit card debt and only second to mortgages
In the United States, 70% of bachelor’s degree students graduate with debt.
40 million Americans have student loans (12.5% of 320 million US citizens)
The average student debt for a college graduate in the year 2015 was $35,051, the highest in recorded history
One in four student loan borrowers is in default payment, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
In the United States, for many of top programs, the total academic cost tops 45000$ on a yearly basis. Some of these programs are provided by elite Law Universities and colleges. Law schools have often come under the scanner for their high tuition fee, the cost of a J.D program from a top tier school can exceed $150,000. Since the core audience that visits our platform are students planning to LL.M., we discussed the same with few we, therefore, decided to ask universities in the United States whether they were providing students with financial aid, scholarships, and any other services to help reduce the financial burden on students. Remarkably, many of these universities make large efforts in this regard.
Brooklyn Law School recognizes that students face a staggering financial hurdle when they undertake an LL.M. and has, in this respect, made the exceptional decision of reducing tuition fees by 15% in 2015, making it one of the cheapest LL.M. in the New York State area. For instance, Fordham is rewarding excellent LL.M. students by giving partial discounts on fees.
Another example is McGeorge School of law, when asked on the topic of student debt crisis, Clemence Kucera, director of Graduate and International program said, “McGeorge School of Law has not increased its LL.M. tuition for the past few years. In addition, we offer scholarships to the majority of our students. I work very closely with each applicant to help them understand their upcoming financial needs”
Even though scholarships may be given out to a selected few, they still provide a financial relief to students to a certain extent. SMU Dedman is one school which considers all its applicants for a partial scholarship and provides as well a few full scholarships.
Another example of Universities helping students with scholarships is Pace Law, the school provides scholarships worth up to 30% of the total tuition. The Law School also recently set up a new initiative: the Graduate fellowship Program. The Pace Environmental Graduate fellowship Program allows fellows to work as staff within the Program and its centers while earning LLM degrees in Environmental Law. This program includes a combination of 100% tuition fee plus a modest stipend for living expenses. (You can learn more about the program here.)
Moreover, Case Western offers scholarships of up to $12,000 to students who add to their geographic diversity. A powerful argument to attract brilliant international students and increase the cosmopolitan learning environment.
Baltimore also seeks to prevent the rising student debt crisis by offering low tuition fees ranging at about $20,000. The city’s low living cost is also an attractive argument in favor of reduced debt. What is more, Baltimore’s “lower tuition costs also reduces the need for a foreign student to prove he or she has access to this larger amount of funds for visa purposes.”
Another possibility is for students to join Law Schools through exchange programs, thus avoiding some fees. Cardozo Law School has partnered with various universities outside the US and offer special partnered full scholarships. For instance, students from Paris-Sorbonne university are entitled to 3 seats at Cardozo for the price of 2. They have similar partnerships with Universities in China and Italy. Apart from that, they also have various other open scholarships that students can take benefit from, they also have in place, personal finance advisers for all students who make it through the application process.
It is also possible for students to get a cost estimate before they embark on the LL.M. journey. Universities will in fact generally provide quotes of tuition and living expenses so students are made aware of the amount they will need to save for or borrow.
Finally, students can learn on their universities for financial advisement. For instance, the university of San Diego’s Financial Aid department maintains an updated list of all sorts of funding sources which can prove extremely useful for students to weigh out their options. Clemence Kucera, Director of Graduate and International Programs at McGeorge School of Law explains “my colleagues and I work very closely with each applicant to help them understand their upcoming financial needs, and if possible we also help them find an on-campus employment. This year, all but one got an on-campus job.”
Student debt crisis is a serious threat to the education system in the United States. Even though there are few universities that are taking considerable measures to tackle this situation, we still have a long way to go. Maybe it's time the US government realized the severity of the situation and introduced new policies to protect the students or introduced income-based repayment plans, as are already in action in countries like England and Australia.. The outstanding loan amount is increasing, and the burden lies on the young shoulders of current and past graduates in an unstable economy. You be the judge.