$EXPLORER_SCHOOL estimates COL+tuition to be USD$41,000/yr. I have no savings. Most of that will come in the form of loans, either federal or private. That means I may be looking at $123,000 in loans (worst case) ... which is to say, over a ten-year period, I would have to pay back an average of 12,300/year, not including interest, which will probably be 7-8%. That makes for a likely monthly payment of $1500-$1600 .... and the average starting salary for $EXPLORER_SCHOOL grads is USD$51,000 (less than I make now). Of course, I could probably come back to tech after law school (not that i would want to), and having connections here means I would be more likely to be able to get a local job that pays more ... but still. That's <terrifying</em>.
Things are better if I go to, say, $BOLT_SCHOOL (with a much higher expected salary) or $VALLEY_SCHOOL (with a lower COL and tuition and connections into state government). Things would be even better if I decided to fuck the fulltime programs and, say, go to $CITY_SCHOOL part time (i'd still have to borrow money, but it would end up being less, because i'd have an ongoing income in the meantime, so COL would be paid for). There's a degree to which this entire endeavor makes questionable economic sense.
That said, going to law school is something I want. I've never understood the phrase before, but I want to get into $BOLT_SCHOOL so badly I can taste it. I want to get into $VALLEY_SCHOOL only slightly less. It's something i've played with on and off mentally for over a decade. Yet now for the first time i'm faced with the opportunity cost: this means putting off owning a home (which is something Jared really wants), and commits us to a large debt more or less indefinitely.
I want it more than I want the things i'd be forgoing - but i'm not certain that I won't change my mind in five years, after it's too late to back out, and i'm not certain that Jared won't find the situation intolerable.
I was spinning on this all weekend. Jared and I had a talk in the car on the way to work yesterday about some of it; he thinks I'm overestimating the difficulty of paying back the loans, and isn't worried about it. I find that heartening (Jared, more than anyone else, really understands the degree to which I am finding tech intolerable - something that he remembers when I, caught up in the fact that the current moment is good, forget). He'd even prefer for me to go somewhere local and take out more loans than go somewhere far away and take out fewer (a possibility, depending on where i'm accepted and what kind of packages they offer). I got the strong sense that he's behind me fully ... but I still feel a bit like i'm near a cliff and about to jump off.
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