Law Students

New Survey Relates Student Debt to Race, Stress, and LSAT Scores
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student loan debt

Summary: Factors such as LSAT scores, race, and stress levels are shown to be greatly impacted by the amount of debt law school students take on.

According to a recent survey of almost 22,000 students, just over 40 percent of law school students fully expect to have over $100,000 in loans when they graduate. Sixty-seven percent of those expect to have at least an additional $20,000 more.

  
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The survey, Law School Survey of Student Engagement, done by Indiana University’s Center for Postsecondary Research is conducted each year. The focus of the survey is to understand student loan debt over the past ten years and how debt impacts students. The survey includes 80 campuses.

The findings from the survey show that debt amounts are increasing as well as stress, especially for minority and lower-income students. The director of the survey and law professor at Saint Louis University School of Law Aaron Taylor, said, “Debt levels have a direct impact on the student’s experience and their ability to focus on their studies without being distracted.”

Read Bowen School of Law Embraces Therapy Animals for Relieving Stress to see how this law school is tackling stress.

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It is not surprising that half of those surveyed said they experience high levels of stress and anxiety in law school but half of those contribute their stress to debt and financial fears. Academic performance, academic workload, and job prospects were cited as the source of stress more often.

Another focus of the survey is to study how race and LSAT scores play a role in student debt. The findings suggest that minority students and those with lower LSAT scores pay more than those with higher scores and their white and Asian classmates. Generally those with higher LSAT scores come from more wealthy backgrounds. As Taylor explains, “Most of the higher costs are being born by those students in the lowest financial position with the least ability to take on those costs. Many students are graduating law school with a debt they won’t ever be able to pay off.”



Last year’s results indicate that 61 percent of black students and 56 percent of Latino students expect to owe a minimum of $120,000 whereas only 40 percent of white and Asian students anticipate having that much in student loans.

Taylor hopes the survey will make law schools look at how the hand out financial aid and scholarships differently. Right now schools give it applicants with higher LSAT scores instead of those with greater financial need. “Law schools are putting lower-income students in a position to essentially subsidize students with higher incomes. Which, frankly, is perverse,” Taylor explained.

The one high point of the survey was in student satisfaction with their education. More law students are reporting higher satisfaction with the entire law school experience than in 2006 and 2011. Taylor has one idea as to why is so, “We suspect that the people going to law school now are probably more committed to the endeavor.”

Source: http://www.nationallawjournal.com/id=1202750939584/Law-Student-Debt-and-Stress-Levels-on-the-Rise-Survey-Finds

Photo: msnbc.com

 

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