10 Law Schools Most (and Least) Likely to Leave You in Debt

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By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on March 20, 2015 6:57 AM

Student debt: It's soul crushing, crippling to recent grads and even slowing down the whole economy. For many students, though, it's also entirely inevitable. Thankfully, U.S. News & World Report, the world's largest list-making conglomerate, has released a new set of rankings. This time, instead of segregating the "Top 16" from the "Third Tier Toilets," caring Internet commenters' shorthand for the highest and lowest ranked law schools, they focused on what really matters -- debt.

One of the list's most surprising revelations? Not that many graduates leave with debts well above $150,000, but that some schools have an average indebtedness of less than a third of that.

Top 10 Debt-Producing Schools

According to U.S. News, the following schools produce the most indebted students. While debt-makers like Northwestern and Columbia are generally considered top law schools by the magazine's other rankings, many of the top debt makers are schools with more limited reaches. (You can check out Above the Law's pairing of average indebtedness and average employment if you want a good cry.)

Which law school graduates have the highest average debts?

  1. Thomas Jefferson School of Law -- $172,445
  2. New York Law School -- $166,622
  3. Northwestern University -- $163,065
  4. Florida Coast School of Law -- $162,785
  5. American University -- $159,316
  6. Vermont Law School -- $156,713
  7. Touro College -- $154,855
  8. University of San Francisco -- $154,321
  9. Columbia University -- $154,076
  10. Whittier College -- $151,602

10 Schools With the Least-Indebted Grads

At least a few schools send graduates out into the world without too horrific debt loads. What sort of magic is this? Though the two least-debty law schools tend to attract specific students -- Howard is a historically black university, while BYU is owned and operated by the Mormon church -- many are simply run-of-the-mill regional schools.

Who graduates students with the least average debt?

  1. Howard University -- $24,021
  2. Brigham Young University -- $54,203
  3. University of Hawaii -- $56,266
  4. North Carolina Central University -- $58,061
  5. University of Nebraska-Lincoln -- $62,985
  6. University of Arkansas-Fayetteville -- $63,541
  7. University of North Dakota -- $64,818
  8. University of Tennessee-Knoxville -- $66,201
  9. University of Wyoming -- $67,087
  10. University of Missouri -- $67,289

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