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USC with more money vs Fordham with less

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Below is a law school question by a student, Zach, and a response with some advice by PowerScore CEO Dave Killoran.

Zach: "Hi,
I was recently offered a $150,000 dollars to USC and $105000 to Fordham. I want to work at big law on New York but I would be open to starting in La first as long as there was a clear path to transferring that work to New York. If I were to be accepted to Penn as well paying full tution, which of these options seems like the smartest pick for someone who does like the idea of loans and has started a family but also wants all doors to remain open?
Thanks in advance,
Zach"

Dave Killoran: "Hi Zach,

Thanks for the question! Let's see, USC with more money vs Fordham with less? Yeah, for me that would tilt strongly towards USC. USC has a similar overall cost, better employment figures, more federal clerkships, and a better large firm employment rate: https://www.lstreports.com/compare/usc/fordham/. To get $45K more there? Not really a tough choice since LA is a huge legal market in this country (not as big as NYC, but still quite reputable and the work experience there is portable to NYC).

So, what about USC vs Penn? If you were getting money at Penn, this wouldn't be a tough choice since Penn has much stronger employment and prestige factors: https://www.lstreports.com/compare/usc/penn/

However, with Penn costing about $160K more (money plus cost of living difference), then it becomes harder. Each school isn't cheap, but paying off ~$190K is obviously a lot easier than paying off ~$350K. That differential there is what you are paying for to get the opportunity at better job results. Whether that's worth it to you is a personal choice. I personally don't love debt, and having a family makes those obligations tougher. Penn opens more doors and better ones at that (usually) but USC opens plenty of doors on its own merit but fewer of the true elite jobs (clerkships being top level, biglaw second). I'm not sure of the best call for you, but I would suggest looking at biglaw hours vs the idea of your family. The two can be tough to blend.

I hope that helps a bit!"