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I have to be conservative on this one. Yes, I believe very much in setting up programs where some to all school debt is waived for working for a period of time in an economically depressed area.

However, I also think that there is no reason for someone to get into that much debt if they can't pay for it within a reasonable period of time. If it takes 20 years to pay off college, you spent too much money. I just don't think I see the payoff there.

I just read through the article and have to say, I'm a bit disappointed. I think it is noble that she wants to "save the world" rather than live the corporate high-life. However, I am married to a teacher, and that always seems to blur my view on these things. The article notes that as a non-profit attorney, the average is $41.08 an hour. That works out to over $85k a year. My husband and I are about $100,000 in debt from student loans, I have a bachelors, and he has a masters. In 2008 we pulled in under $60k. It is completely realistic for her to budget for living on under $45k a year, and have that student loan debt paid off in under 3 years. Everyone makes sacrifices financially as a starving student, and some of us "government employees" continue that after college. Though I support help for government and non-profit employees for school expenses, it is hard for me to be sympathetic. I can only hope to make that much in my career someday.

My best advice is to do what makes her happy. Make some sacrifices for the first few years, she can forgo the Versacci suits and Mercedes until later. There are a lot of people in this country that raise families on what she could make working at a non-profit.

Actually, the average starting salary for a public interest attorney is $36,000.00 a year. I am a law student at the University of Michigan. Tuition here is $43,000 a year and living expenses take the yearly budget to over $60,000. This leaves a total debt of over $180,000.00, not including interest and not including any prior debt from undergraduate loans. It might be argued that someone should not enter the public interest field because it is too expensive, but the services that public interest attorneys and government lawyers provide to society can not be done without. Luckily, there are a few loan forgiveness programs administered by law schools to students who do end up pursuing a public interest career. But such are few and far between. The government should fully subsidize more of these loans, but in a way that would require subsidized students to work in a public interest or underserved specialty for a certain amount of years. A similar program is administered by the government for medical students who agree to work in underserved communities after school.

Yes I think the government should assist the lawyers who willingly take a paycut. For those who build up education based debt and then enter the working world only to make less money, that must hurt. I know it isn't all about the money but people need to eat!

The difference in pay between a corporate attorney at a top law firm and a nonprofit attorney is more like $125,000 a year in base salary alone, or up to $160,000 in a year of hefty $35,000 bonuses. (No, the 2008 bonuses did not disappear completely -- they started at $17,500).
Starting corporate associates make $160,000 before bonuses. Nonprofit attorneys make $36,000. That's a big difference to stomach for someone paying off $180,000 in debt, even with law school help. And, for students who decide to clerk before they go to a firm, they also start their job with up to a $50,000 bonus.

it's true, the pay in the gov't sector os not sexy (but actually not as bad as people think - in the federal gov't anyway).

the federal gov't is instituting a loan forgivemness program this year for any employee who serves 10 years in the public interest sector. of course there are some limitations, i'm sure, hey it's a start:
http://www.finaid.org/loans/publicservice.phtml

you can read some criticisms of the program here:
http://www.usnews.com/blogs/on-education/2008/5/28/the-problem-with-federal-loan-forgiveness-programs.html

Go to a public law school or don't go to law school if you aren't smart enough to get in if you want to work for the govt. or in public interest. If you want to go to the fancy schmancy University of Miami, only go if you can pay your way w/o debt. Why pay 60k a year for three years at a high interest rate to do a job you may not even like once you first try it? Student loans can NEVER be discharged unless you become a vegetable. It isn't like a mortgage. Student loans are the riskiest form of debt you can ever take on. Therefore, only go to expensive schools that aren't even ranked highly nationally like U of Miami if you are rich and can afford it. Otherwise study hard and gain state residency and work through school to pay for a state school to go to law school. I know too many attorneys with not jobs who are 200k plus in debt. When you drink starsucks in law school every day on loans while studying with rich people in the gables, reality will come crashing down when the party ends three years later.

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