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IndyBar: Student Loan Debt Got You Down?

March 6, 2019

iba-listening-debtYou’ve been working hard for three years. You’ve done everything that’s been asked of you to the best of your ability. You’ve dreamed of the day when your work is complete and the financial reward you’ve been aiming for finally is at hand. The check comes in, but 25 percent or more of what you earned is gone. Not only that, but those dollars will be out of your paycheck every month for the next 20 years. That’s the reality for many young lawyers living with student loan debt. We know that debt load can be overwhelming, and the IndyBar is determined to help.

To better understand the scope of the need, we have organized “listening sessions” for March and April. By gathering the personal experiences of current law students and young lawyers, the IndyBar is committed to providing solutions to improve the financial well-being of our members. These forums for sharing personal stories and ideas will be held at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, the Indiana University Maurer School of Law and at the IndyBar office.

We need to hear the stories. We need honest feedback and insight into what it’s like to balance life and debt. We can’t help if we don’t know your story. We’re interested in what counseling has been made available and any perceived impediments to making use of those resources. How are members managing debt and what, if anything, could be done to lessen the burden now? We’re also curious about the perception of lending practices following graduation. These are just some of the thoughts we’d like to discuss.

We know the need is real. With in-state tuition at slightly more than $28,000 a year, there is no path to a law degree for most aspiring lawyers that doesn’t include student loans. The most recent data show that 91 percent of Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law students are carrying loan debt averaging $105,065. At the Indiana University Maurer School of Law, it’s only slightly better with 74 percent of students with debt at an average of $99,895.

Our work will really kick into gear after the listening sessions. The IndyBar is assembling legal and financial professionals to examine the information gathered to identify existing tools to assist. If the needed tools aren’t available, we’ll work to create them. To be most effective, we really need the personal stories. If you’re among the more than 75 percent, please plan to carve out a bit of time for one of the sessions. Your financial well-being and that of those following in your footsteps will benefit. It might just be a bit cathartic, too.•

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