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lawstudenthopeful123

How did you pay for tuiton, living expenses, and other fees that weren't covered by OSAP

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I am strongly considering applying to law school this year, but the cost and the overwhelming process has been keeping me from initiating the process. I know the average tuition of law students is around 25k or more a year and that is definitely a daunting amount of debt, especially for someone that doesn't have a great job or parents backing them. Also, as far as I have seen, the cap for osap is around 11k per year, which leaves me questioning how I will pay for the rest and whatever other costs I will incur. Do I have to take out a line of credit or work another job? I'm not sure I can pay the interest on that high of a loan/line of credit while I am in school without a job. What did you end up doing for this situation?

I am really weary of debt because I just came out of an undergrad program which cost me over 40 K, but yield no results in terms of my career. It could end up being lucrative if I ended up doing a Masters or Phd, however, I would likely be in the same situation financially. So, here comes my second big concern: Will I get a clean slate by becoming a lawyer and going to law school? What I mean is, will my current dismal job experience affect my ability to secure legal positions? I really believe I can do well in law school and enjoy it.

 

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Most people pay the difference through a combination of scholarships, bursaries, a line of credit and money earned by working. Law school usually involves a degree of taking on debt, with most students I’ve talk to are paying for school themselves. What the degree of debt is varies from person to person. 

 

As for your questions regarding dismal job prospects, if you think attending law school is a guaranteed way to employment I’d strongly suggest you stop thinking that’s the case. While law school certainly increases opportunities for work you still need to work hard to find a job and close the deal. This largely, but not entirely, depends on you and your abilities. If you have little in the way of experience, I think you’d be overlooked for those with experience. Law school will enable you to build experience but this will involve you seeking out opportunities to build that experience. 

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22 minutes ago, LeoandCharlie said:

Most people pay the difference through a combination of scholarships, bursaries, a line of credit and money earned by working. Law school usually involves a degree of taking on debt, with most students I’ve talk to are paying for school themselves. What the degree of debt is varies from person to person. 

 

As for your questions regarding dismal job prospects, if you think attending law school is a guaranteed way to employment I’d strongly suggest you stop thinking that’s the case. While law school certainly increases opportunities for work you still need to work hard to find a job and close the deal. This largely, but not entirely, depends on you and your abilities. If you have little in the way of experience, I think you’d be overlooked for those with experience. Law school will enable you to build experience but this will involve you seeking out opportunities to build that experience. 

Thank you for your detailed answer. I guess I will have to research the funding aspect in more depth, to see exactly how I will be able to manage it.

 

As for the second part, I think you are misconstruing my thoughts on law school. I don't think it will create guaranteed job opportunities. However, I do want to have a return on my investment as long as I work hard and do well. I have worked very hard in my own field, but the job prospects are slim, so I wanted to do something about that. Hence, my interest in furthering my education. I think it is a valuable question any person should ask when going into any program. Remember, law school is an investment just like any other program. I just want a good chance of return on my investment. 

 

In addition to above, I wanted to know when applying to jobs first year or second year in law school what will be the main criteria (e.g., my performance in law school, EC's in law school (all of which I can gain), or will it be whether I had a good job in the past)?

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This story sounds familiar, and I can relate. 

I can tell you that law school significantly improved my opportunities for meaningful work and upped my earning potential a fair bit. But it also added significantly to my debt. Right now I feel like the trade-off was worth it because I'm happier and more fulfilled in the work that I do and have available to me moving forward, but the additional debt was a kick in the teeth, and I'll be climbing out of that hole for a while.

You should know that we currently have more law students than well-paid articling or junior lawyer gigs in the country. It's been that way for years, and the numbers are about to get a lot worse in Ontario with Ryerson looking to graduate an additional 150 students in 3 or so years. Word on the street is that about 30% of law students right now graduate without securing articles, so this won't help.

That said, I find that particularly with law, the cream does still rise to the top when it comes to landing good positions. If you're good (and honestly I can't say whether you will or you won't be) you should be fine by the time the dust settles. To be better than fine though, you have to be very good. Competition is increasing.

Tto answer your question about financing law school, because of the OSAP cap I used a combination of university grants and bursaries and a student line of credit - which banks are typically eager to provide, to make up the difference. You can get decently low rates on the LOC.

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Many people, myself included, got quite nice Scotiabank LOCs this cycle. 135,000 over 3 years, with a 2 year grace period after graduating before you have to start repaying the principle (note you still must pay interest on what you borrow starting the following month). They also threw in 2 credit cards with the fees waived. The application process was quite easy as well. The LOC plus OSAP and any summer work you can get should be plenty. Also if you are a strong student you can get entrance scholarships, or if you do well in 1/2L you can get awards for following years of law school. 

*Scotiabank did not pay me for this ad

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3 hours ago, TheAEGIS said:

Word on the street is that about 30% of law students right now graduate without securing articles, so this won't help.

What street do you live on? I've never heard that number being used. At least not in the context you framed it.

Something like 90+% of law students secure articles by/or just after graduating. Unless the field has gotten significantly worse in the last three years, your numbers are off.

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1 hour ago, pzabbythesecond said:

What street do you live on? I've never heard that number being used. At least not in the context you framed it.

Something like 90+% of law students secure articles by/or just after graduating. Unless the field has gotten significantly worse in the last three years, your numbers are off.

Personally I’ve heard 6 out of 7 law student secure articling by the time they graduate (or after, can’t remember) which is closer to your statistic than 30%.

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On 7/24/2019 at 11:21 AM, clevermoose said:

Many people, myself included, got quite nice Scotiabank LOCs this cycle. 135,000 over 3 years, with a 2 year grace period after graduating before you have to start repaying the principle (note you still must pay interest on what you borrow starting the following month). They also threw in 2 credit cards with the fees waived. The application process was quite easy as well. The LOC plus OSAP and any summer work you can get should be plenty. Also if you are a strong student you can get entrance scholarships, or if you do well in 1/2L you can get awards for following years of law school. 

*Scotiabank did not pay me for this ad

Seems great now!

But remember - that is a lot of debt to pay back - you'd be looking at payments of around $1400/mth for 10 years? (that's a guess but I think it would be around there) and that's just for the PSLOC it doesn't include additional OSAP you will/may take on. 

OP needs to think this through. I also took on a lot of debt to complete law school. For me, totally worth it. I landed a great job on Bay Street, I summered and articled at a great firm. But, as is cautioned - that really only happens for a fraction of law students.  A majority land jobs, but do not start at a six figure salary. Having this kind of debt to pay off when you're not making "top dollar" and you aren't guaranteed your lock-step raise can be stressful and defeating. 

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Listen to TheScientist101.  That amount of debt can be crushing and it will, undoubtedly, influence what you can and cannot do for many years after law school.  A minority of students will end up with Bay St. salaries. Remember that. Minimize your debt to the greatest extent possible.

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Most students take out a line of credit to cover the difference. Try to minimize your debt, but don't stress too much about it. You'll be fine. Law is a lucrative career. If you're conscious of your spending, you can graduate with some debt (but not an overwhelming amount) that you'll be able to pay back within the first five years of your career. You said you have $40k in debt from your undergrad (which according to your post since you're working may have been at least partially paid off I assume?). Lots of law students enter law school with a similar sum of debt and take on more loans, and they work out just fine.

Investing in your education, and particularly in a professional degree, is one of the best investments you'll make in your life.

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At first I read this post as "dripping with sarcasm". In case my read of it was wrong - this is basically the antithesis of the right advice - but okay - whatever helps you sleep at night.
 

1 hour ago, georgecostanzajr said:

Most students take out a line of credit to cover the difference. Try to minimize your debt, but don't stress too much about it. You'll be fine. Law is a lucrative career. If you're conscious of your spending, you can graduate with some debt (but not an overwhelming amount) that you'll be able to pay back within the first five years of your career.

If you are starting with $40K debt and take out another $135K (assuming you don't take out OSAP), you are graduating with $175K in debt. That's a house (in some less populated areas of the country). I have a fancy Bay Street job and I can tell you that there is no way I could pay that off in the first 5 years of my career. Imagine that OP ends up as a country lawyer making $50K/year (which is nothing to sneeze at, it's where a lot of lawyers end up with their income) - it will be very difficult to pay back $175K at 4% (or more depending on prime) over 10 years. 
 

1 hour ago, georgecostanzajr said:

Investing in your education, and particularly in a professional degree, is one of the best investments you'll make in your life.


Not if it means that you will be debt strapped and financially struggling for the first 10 years following your "investment". In that case it would be decidedly one of the worst decisions you could have made in your life.

Edited by TheScientist101
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A good example of why it's wise to take this type of advice from someone who just finished 1L, with a huge grain of salt.

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Some debt is likely inevitable. 

1. Really look into any scholarships, bursaries, awards, or grants that you could possibly be eligible for. Don’t assume you will be automatically given these things. Seek them out aggressively. 

2. Figure out what your resources are. Did you parents or caregivers put aside any money for your education? Would any family members be willing to help you out? Is there a summer job you can go back to in between 1L and 2L (law-related jobs being relatively rare at that stage)? Do you have any savings yourself?

3. Look into what the banks will offer you in terms of interest. Be smart and be picky. Scotiabank has a reputation for being very reasonable for law students but you need to look into these options yourself! Remember: not all lines of credit are equal.

4. Figure out what your expenses will be and map them out. Include travel and housing and food, ongoing medications, any new clothes you might need (eg you should have one decent suit and shoes to match). This is not an opportunity to enjoy feeling frugal on paper - that’s setting yourself up for failure. Just be reasonable about what you need and what it costs.

5. Budget and stick to it. Just because the bank will give you X dollars doesn’t mean you should spend all of it. Spend what you need for food and rent, and a modest amount of extras. But when tempted to spend more, do not think of it as “I have $15,000 left in the bank!” - instead think of it as “I have the ability to owe an additional $15,000 in two years!”

6. Unless there is a really incredible opportunity or your family is footing the bill, work to support yourself over your summers. Law or non law jobs - just don’t go into debt for the eight months when you have time to pay your bills yourself.

7. If you have a credit card, pay it off, set the limit low, and shred all your other credit cards. It’s too easy to slap the Visa down on the bar in a moment of drunken generosity. Credit card debt is especially evil for students unused to being financially responsible. You will sap your LOC bit by steady bit if you are foolishly thinking credit card debt is somehow a separate kind of debt. 

8. Don’t think of your debt as something to worry about three years from now. Any law student in September of 2L will be looking at OCIs and realizing they really need to have a well paid job the coming summer. The money related stress sets in hardcore and it doesn’t go away. At that point the difference between $50k of debt and $95k of debt changes what your whole future looks like to you. So be smart from the beginning. 

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5 hours ago, TheScientist101 said:


At first I read this post as "dripping with sarcasm". In case my read of it was wrong - this is basically the antithesis of the right advice - but okay - whatever helps you sleep at night.
 

If you are starting with $40K debt and take out another $135K (assuming you don't take out OSAP), you are graduating with $175K in debt. That's a house (in some less populated areas of the country). I have a fancy Bay Street job and I can tell you that there is no way I could pay that off in the first 5 years of my career. Imagine that OP ends up as a country lawyer making $50K/year (which is nothing to sneeze at, it's where a lot of lawyers end up with their income) - it will be very difficult to pay back $175K at 4% (or more depending on prime) over 10 years. 
 


Not if it means that you will be debt strapped and financially struggling for the first 10 years following your "investment". In that case it would be decidedly one of the worst decisions you could have made in your life.

So, the last paragraph is exactly why I am concerned. I do not have much savings, a great current job, or any parental support in terms of money, and I have just under half of my undergrad loan to pay off. Having said that, my parents help in other ways and have been absolutely awesome. However, I don't want to rely on them when I am a very grown adult. I want to be practical with my next move and less idealistic than I was when I was 18.

Also, I should mention explicit that I have no interest in becoming a bay street or corporate lawyer. My interests in law range from criminal law (preferably prosecution for the crown), tax law, and  family law... definitely not corporate. Now, I know some of these areas are very competitive and don't pay out as much as the bay street lawyers which makes me even more concerned. 

Can anyone say whether it is doable to graduate with upwards of 100k in debt and still live reasonably well? I am very frugal person, so I am not talking luxury, I just don't want to constantly worry about money.

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14 hours ago, lawstudenthopeful123 said:

So, the last paragraph is exactly why I am concerned. I do not have much savings, a great current job, or any parental support in terms of money, and I have just under half of my undergrad loan to pay off. Having said that, my parents help in other ways and have been absolutely awesome. However, I don't want to rely on them when I am a very grown adult. I want to be practical with my next move and less idealistic than I was when I was 18.

Also, I should mention explicit that I have no interest in becoming a bay street or corporate lawyer. My interests in law range from criminal law (preferably prosecution for the crown), tax law, and  family law... definitely not corporate. Now, I know some of these areas are very competitive and don't pay out as much as the bay street lawyers which makes me even more concerned. 

Can anyone say whether it is doable to graduate with upwards of 100k in debt and still live reasonably well? I am very frugal person, so I am not talking luxury, I just don't want to constantly worry about money.

You could also consider the tuition of your school carefully before you choose. U of M, UNB, UVic and U of C are all about half the price of most Ontario schools. Saving 30k over the course of your program is not a small amount of money.

Edited by clevermoose

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Yeah, leave ontario if you can (but be ready to not come back for a few years post grad in a worst case scenario). There's an ontario premium on legal education which is really not warranted in almost all cases.

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On 7/24/2019 at 2:21 PM, pzabbythesecond said:

What street do you live on? I've never heard that number being used. At least not in the context you framed it.

Something like 90+% of law students secure articles by/or just after graduating. Unless the field has gotten significantly worse in the last three years, your numbers are off.

Yeah the word was coming from other students in my cohort. Should have clarified that bit, and that it was probably very anecdotal now that I think about it.

 

On 7/25/2019 at 1:21 PM, erinl2 said:

Listen to TheScientist101.  That amount of debt can be crushing and it will, undoubtedly, influence what you can and cannot do for many years after law school.  A minority of students will end up with Bay St. salaries. Remember that. Minimize your debt to the greatest extent possible.

THIS!

On 7/25/2019 at 8:14 PM, lawstudenthopeful123 said:

Can anyone say whether it is doable to graduate with upwards of 100k in debt and still live reasonably well? I am very frugal person, so I am not talking luxury, I just don't want to constantly worry about money.

Where to start. I mean you sort of have to define "reasonably well"... 

Do you want to live by yourself in a condo apartment? Or with a roommate or three? Could you deal with a basement unit, or do you need to see the sun every now and then? Do you want to be able to get to work in under 30 minutes? Or are you fine with long commutes?

Your salary, your expenses and your expectations will largely determine whether you can live reasonably well.  

If you don't mind living like someone earning a fraction of what you'd likely be earning for the first 6 or 7 years after graduating,  and you think that that's living reasonably well, then yes, it's possible to live reasonably well while paying off over 100k in debt.

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On 7/25/2019 at 10:04 PM, TheScientist101 said:


At first I read this post as "dripping with sarcasm". In case my read of it was wrong - this is basically the antithesis of the right advice - but okay - whatever helps you sleep at night.
 

If you are starting with $40K debt and take out another $135K (assuming you don't take out OSAP), you are graduating with $175K in debt. That's a house (in some less populated areas of the country). I have a fancy Bay Street job and I can tell you that there is no way I could pay that off in the first 5 years of my career. Imagine that OP ends up as a country lawyer making $50K/year (which is nothing to sneeze at, it's where a lot of lawyers end up with their income) - it will be very difficult to pay back $175K at 4% (or more depending on prime) over 10 years. 
 


Not if it means that you will be debt strapped and financially struggling for the first 10 years following your "investment". In that case it would be decidedly one of the worst decisions you could have made in your life.

#1: I think you missed part of my post which lead you to make some erroneous assumptions. Firstly, I said that they'll graduate with some debt but not an overwhelming amount. I never said taking out the full $135k was something OP should do. But taking out a reasonable sum of money in order to obtain a law degree compared to the minimum-wage career that OP currently has is absolutely a great investment. I did say, OP should be conscious of their spending and try to minimize debt. But if taking on some debt, not an extreme amount, (say $40k) is what is deterring OP from going to law school, it shouldn't.

#2: "Not if it means that you will be debt strapped and financially struggling for the first 10 years following your "investment"" - as compared with OP earning near minimum wage for the rest of his/her life, it's certainly better.

It's unfortunate that you misinterpreted my post. I never said they should be irresponsible with their spending.

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