Access Group, a nonprofit organization composed of nearly 200 law schools, has released a new student loan calculator for law school. The free tool is aimed at helping students determine the cost of law school and the federal student loan repayment options they may qualify for after graduation.
“You can go ahead and find out which school might be best for you and which repayment plan might be best for you,” said Cynthia Cassity, Access Group's vice president of marketing and strategic engagement. “It’s important with the amount of debt out there.”
The tool contains data on the cost of certain law schools and the living expenses of certain cities, said Libby Rosenberg, director of marketing for Access Group. “In a previous version of the calculator, a lot of that information was not necessarily at people’s fingertips,” she said. “So we decided that we could gather that information and prepopulate that data for the user.”
Kyle McEntee, executive director of Law School Transparency, a nonprofit that seeks to make entry to the legal profession more fair and affordable, said he believes the tool is appealing but potentially misleading. “It’s underestimating debt,” he said. “It’s showing the ease of repayment based on just a single year. But tuition continues to increase. So does the cost of living.”
Colleges have been required to display net price calculators -- which prospective students can use to estimate how much they will pay after federal or institutional grants -- as part of the Higher Education Act reauthorization in 2008. But law schools have not been subjected to this mandate, although law school debt can be more severe.