Ivy League law schools such as Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, Cornell, Harvard, and Yale have produced renowned figures in the legal and political sphere. Data from the Higher Education Advisory group reveals that the median annual earnings for graduates of these Ivy League law schools, four years after completion, exceed $200,000. While these high earnings are attractive, many students at these prestigious institutions accumulate substantial student loan debt, often exceeding $100,000.
Considering the substantial debt, experts suggest adhering to the rule of borrowing an amount that doesn’t surpass the anticipated starting salary. Here’s a breakdown of the data for each of the five Ivy League law schools:
Columbia Law School
Median Earnings: $280,926
Median Debt: $198,924
Debt as Percentage of Earnings: 71%
University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School
Median Earnings: $261,434
Median Debt: $171,488
Debt as Percentage of Earnings: 66%
Cornell Law School
Median Earnings: $249,283
Median Debt: $162,160
Debt as Percentage of Earnings: 65%
Harvard Law School
Median Earnings: $233,589
Median Debt: $93,235
Debt as Percentage of Earnings: 40%
Yale Law School
Median Earnings: $204,668
Median Debt: $140,977
Debt as Percentage of Earnings: 69%
While Columbia graduates have the highest median earnings, they also incur significant debt, partly attributed to the high tuition costs and living expenses associated with studying in New York City. Harvard stands out as the Ivy League school with law students taking on median debt below $100,000, likely due to a considerable percentage of students paying full tuition. For instance, in the 2021-22 academic year, 57% of Harvard Law students paid the full tuition.
These statistics highlight the complex financial trade-offs that students at Ivy League law schools face, with the allure of high future earnings potentially offset by the burden of student loan debt.