The Reality of Student Loans

“Yep. It’s not just monopoly money anymore.”

My wife received her student loan information in the mail a few days ago, and the reality of our student loans hit us both pretty heavily. As I work on my JD, my wife is concurrently working on her MSW. And, like most grad students in general, we rely on student loans to help us pay for those extra letters we’ll add to the end of our names on graduation day and that piece of paper we’ll frame and put in our office (about half of law students graduate with at least $100k in student loans). Knowing that we don’t need to worry about making payments on the loans until we graduate tends to make the loans seem almost fake. However, the reality of the fact that we are tens of thousands of dollars in debt, thanks to student loans, has hit us hard.

This moment of enlightenment (discouragement?) is compounded by the current state of the economy and the job market. It causes me to wonder: How long will it take us to pay off these loans? Will we ever pay off the loans at all? Will I find a good job after I graduate? Where can I find a cardboard box large enough for my wife and I to live in? I’ve always believed that a legal education is something I will never regret obtaining. I still feel that way. The real question, however, is how long it will take after graduation before my family and I can live comfortably.

Fortunately, I attend one of the law schools on this list, which means I won’t have over $100k in student debt when I graduate (interesting sidenote: 5 of the top 10 “Mormon Friendly Law Schools” from 2010 are mentioned on the list). As a result, I’ll either be able to pay off my student loans more quickly or buy some Wendy’s chicken nuggets.