Monday, July 15, 2019

Hail, Columbia! The Seven Figure Law School

This Campos/LGM post is from a month ago, but I read fine-print books instead of playing with electronic gizmos and sending e-texts when I was younger so my brain works better but not faster, you damn kids.
Columbia’s law school has passed a fiscal milestone: for the first time, its estimated cost of attendance for a nine-month academic year will be in six figures ($101,345 to be exact).
Students who borrow the full cost of attendance will owe about $370,000 when the first loan payment comes due six months after graduation. (This sum is calculated by assuming average historical COA increases over the next three years, plus accruing loan interest and origination fees).
How much did it cost to do this kind of thing when the heart of
rock and roll the baby boom was moving through this and similar institutions?
Inflation-adjusted to constant dollars, about one quarter as much. [Example from1980, blah blah blah]
Turn the amps to 11, 'cause speaking of 1980:
Hell's bells!
Yeah, hell's bells!
You got me ringing
Hell's bells!
My temperature's high
Hell's bells!
Rock on, motherfuckers, a $100k/year law school! Much like automobile sales, we've long crossed the point where it's "overpriced" and we're in straight-up "DGAF luxury" Lambo et al territory. You want a Daewoo, you little schmeltz? No, you want a Maserati, jet black like your natural hair age 65, with a phat bitch pre-installed in the passenger seat, stick shift only, mmmbaby!

And with the prestige of a luxury degree like Columbia in a hot, lawyer-hungry market like New York (see my last post), you're sure to be gainfully employed for at least five or six years, more than enough time to pay back any debt. Don't worry, if the long days at Necktie / Noose LLP send you drinkin' like Bon Scott, you'll probably have health care sufficient to cover any incidents.  Probably.

Note that the urbane, progressive Columbia is bucking a distasteful, garish counter-trend to lower tuition in backwater red state hick-holes to "keep the best minds at home" (like any "best minds" would fall for THAT scam!). For example, South Carolina just slashed in-state tuition to what must be unsustainable 2015 levels.

Losers. When people seek out counsel, they don't want some poser who bargain-shopped. They want a grown-up bambino who knows how to spend money, who has no qualms about dumping cash on people who paid rent-controlled tuition. What better way to show clients that you know how to spend money - and that you're willing to invest in their winning case, if need be - than by plunking down $400k for the premier legal education shared by U.S. Grant, Jr.; David Stern; and Roy Cohn?

But why stop there? The market obviously is signalling that top legal education has no maximum price. These little bitches will sign over their damned organs for a Manhattan T13 roll-o'-the-dice. Let's steer this branch of the express to 500, 750, and one million dollars. Why not? This ain't no Highway to Hell.  The rubber stamp's never been wetter and if you tell people there's only a few law schools that'll get them where they wanna go, they'll throw money at you like fat drunks on a strip club bar crawl who know they'll be dead before the bill comes due, only they'll likely be alive, with models, and bottles, and a suit collection featuring every tone of gray.

I mean, you might think a $1M cost of attendance is ludicrous, but you, a starch-eating rational grump, thought a $200k cost of attendance was ludicrous and now that's S.O.P. Buckle up, buckaroos, 'cause mixed metaphors be damned we're shiftin' this baby into warp speed.  By the light of the Million Dollar Express shall we see light.

Cue the music, boys:
I won't take no prisoners, won't spare no lives
Nobody's putting up a fight
I got my bell, I'm gonna take you to hell
I'm gonna get you, [Dean?] Satan get you 


  1. A few years ago I pointed out that even if the Million-Dollar Degree™ were real, it would be a poor bargain next to the certainty of starting with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. I speculated that the cost of the damn degree would be $1M or more at some schools within a couple of decades, at which point the "million-dollar" claim would appear decidedly bad even if we overlooked the fact that it is far from the truth. Indeed, already several law schools cost almost $400k to attend.

    Even a dunce should be able to see that $200k or $300k or $400k in 100% real loans, accumulating interest right now at a high rate, is too high a price to pay for gains alleged to be on average $1M over an entire career (meaning that the net present value of those alleged gains is considerably smaller than the straight total, since money today is worth more than money tomorrow). Or maybe I'm wrong. Maybe plenty of dolts really can't see that.

  2. About 40% of attendees at Columbia don't incur any debt.

    Let that sink in.