Debt-to-Salary Report Shows Which Law Schools Are Worth the Investment

By William Vogeler, Esq. on January 30, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Raise a glass to higher salaries and lower law school debt!

Or if you're a glass-half-full kinda person, you might want to just skip it -- like skip law school altogether because maybe it's not worth the investment.

There's good news and bad news for prospective law students who are worried about the cost of a legal education. Based on a new report by SoFi, the good news is that more law schools are proving their worth when it comes to debt-to-salary ratios. The bad news is that there are still plenty of schools graduating students with large debts and comparatively low salaries. that can't say the same.

Top Ten

As expected, the Ivy League schools place in the top ten for highest average salaries among graduates. Ranked in the top tier by U.S. News & World Report, Cornell, Harvard, and Yale graduates enjoyed salaries of $183,337, $173,578, and $171,779 respectively in the SoFi report.

However, while Yale ranks highest by U.S. News, it ranks significantly lower by SoFi. Among the top 20 in salaries, Yale was tied for last in terms of salary-to-debt ratios. In other words, the top school graduates always get the top salaries, but they do not always get the best for the money they spent in law school.

For return on investment, Brigham Young University is the best in the SoFi report. The BYU alum makes about $108,916 annually but has a debt of only $64,873. In fact, the report shows, many law schools give better returns than the higher-ranked schools.

Bottom Ten

Unfortunately for students in third-tier or unranked schools, the salary-to-debt numbers are often the worst. Florida Coastal School of Law, for example, reports a salary of $84,644 for a debt of $158,427.

Charlotte School of Law is next with $84,285 and $154,802. Phoenix Law School, now known as Arizona Summit Law School, is also in the bottom ten, reporting salaries of $96,115 against debts of $155,697. Florida Coastal, Charlotte, and Arizona Summit law schools are all operated by the for-profit consortium, Infilaw. Charlotte recently lost its federal funding for student loans last month, and laid off a third of its staff this month.

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