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Which School?- Debt vs. Location

vsk
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Hello!

I am on the deadline crunch for accepting two offers, because I don't know which one to go with. I am trying to decide whether to go to Oklahoma University College of Law or St. John's University Law.

I received a scholarship from St. John's for 20,000 a year ( that while conditional is available for all three years ), but even so I will be heavily in debt, especially considering the high cost of living in NYC. What pulls me towards St. John's is the location and the opportunities it provides. Plus, I have always wanted to live and work there.

With OU I was also offered a scholarship of 10,000 yearly for three years and with the super lost cost of tuition (and the possibility of future resident tuition) makes it so that I will be in very little in debt. The problem is that I don't love the location.'

They are pretty evenly matched up in terms of stats and ranking https://www.lstreports.com/compare/stjohns/oklahoma/
and St. John's has more variety and options academically because they are a bigger school. I am just scared I will be drowning in debt. Am I wrong for being so debt averse? What are your thoughts? Thank you!
Dave Killoran
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vsk wrote:Hello!

I am on the deadline crunch for accepting two offers, because I don't know which one to go with. I am trying to decide whether to go to Oklahoma University College of Law or St. John's University Law.

I received a scholarship from St. John's for 20,000 a year ( that while conditional is available for all three years ), but even so I will be heavily in debt, especially considering the high cost of living in NYC. What pulls me towards St. John's is the location and the opportunities it provides. Plus, I have always wanted to live and work there.

With OU I was also offered a scholarship of 10,000 yearly for three years and with the super lost cost of tuition (and the possibility of future resident tuition) makes it so that I will be in very little in debt. The problem is that I don't love the location.'

They are pretty evenly matched up in terms of stats and ranking https://www.lstreports.com/compare/stjohns/oklahoma/
and St. John's has more variety and options academically because they are a bigger school. I am just scared I will be drowning in debt. Am I wrong for being so debt averse? What are your thoughts? Thank you!


Hi VSK,

Thanks for the question! Are you right to be concerned about drowning in debt? Yes, definitely. That debt will limit your choices and restrict your career paths (or worse). It's a serious issue that must be factored into your decision.

Speaking as someone who is generally debt-averse, the argument for taking on debt becomes reasonable when the school in question is well-regarded enough—and produces better job outcomes—than the alternatives. In a straight head-to-head comparison this creates a black and white numbers game. St. Johns at a discount vs NYU at full price? That is a difficult decision because NYU has such better job outcomes. With St. John's vs Oklahoma, we have two schools that are remarkably similar despite their different locations, and in fact Oklahoma has a slightly better ranking (which is negligible when we're looking at two schools both in the #70s). You are looking at taking on a lot of debt simply to get your preferred location. So, is it worth it? If your goal is biglaw, then maybe. We know StJ places better simply due to its location in the NYC area. you also mention a desire to be in NYC and an aversion to Oklahoma. That could be enough to tilt your grades into better performance at St. Johns. But, one note, keep in mind that St. Johns isn't in the city proper. It's out in Jamaica, Queens and so that campus feel is very different than being in the city.

A few thoughts:

    Have you visited the St. john's campus? Is it what you are looking for? Same for OK?

    Have you tried to negotiate with Oklahoma and St. John's for better financial packages?

    Have you talked to students at each school about their perceptions, and also about how much free time they have to "enjoy" their surroundings?

I understand the difficulty here, but that's a lot of debt to take on for basically the same kinds of outcomes. I'd really get out there and ask some of the questions above (and others!), because that debt doesn't go away (ever) until you pay it off.

Good luck!
Dave Killoran
PowerScore Test Preparation

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