Black, Latino Law Students More Stressed and Indebted, Survey Suggests

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on March 02, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Black and Latino law students are suffering the most stress levels associated with law school debt, suggests a survey. Law school debt levels are rising, and so is law student stress. But, in a finding that won't surprise many, minority and low-income students suffer the most.

The study seems to indicate -- no surprise -- that simply worrying about your student loans can affect the quality of your law school experience.

Stress Factors

The most current release of the Law School Survey of Student Engagement looked over the last ten years of law school student debt and its effects on student experiences and the results were rather depressing -- or sobering. A look at those students who expected to owe more than $120,000 in student debt after graduation showed that the experience was "fundamentally different" than the experience of other students. Essentially 70 percent of the extremely indebted students reported very high levels of stress.

LSAT Factors

There is also a rather unsurprising correlation between debt levels and scores in the LSAT. The survey seems to indicate that students with lower LSAT scores are paying more for their law school educations than their white and Asian classmates. Either this means those students are getting more in the way of scholarships and grants, or they are being subsidized more because friends and family essentially pay for their educations.

Previous research shows a correlation between LSAT scores and prosperity. In fact, the the survey also found a widening gap in anticipated debt for those with LSAT scores of 155 and below and those with scores of 156 and above. And then there's the problem of people just dropping law generally.

Poor Subsidizing the Rich?

The director of the survey, Aaron Taylor, said that he hoped the survey would prompt schools to revisit their tuition and scholarship policies which sometimes prioritize funding for applicants with the highest LSAT scores rather than those with more financial need. Such practices tend to put lower-incomes students in the position of subsidizing the students with higher incomes, which "frankly, is perverse," he said.

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