Is it still worth doing a degree in law?

There is a certain popularity that the law profession carries. Over the years, there have been television shows that are centered around law – legal dramas, as television executives call it. Large companies have their own team of lawyers to protect their business interests. Young children list down “lawyer” among the things they want to be when they grow up.

It is common knowledge that getting a law degree and practicing it as a profession can be time-consuming. It takes quite a number of years before the bar exams, and working for a firm or starting your own practice is an additional thing to consider. While it is a profession held in high esteem by some, there are also a lot of people who look down on lawyers because of a general reputation of dishonesty. Let’s examine if, at this point in time, it is still worth taking up a degree in law.

Not enough jobs

According to 2011 data from the National Association for Law Placement, less than 50 percent of people that graduated with a law degree actually landed jobs at a law firm. In addition to that, over 9 percent of all law graduates were not able to find a job within a period of nine months following graduation. Two years later, the number increased, as over 11 percent were not able to find a job after graduation.

Starting salary

In 2008, the starting salary for new lawyers was approximately $72,000. Four years after that, it went down to $61,000 average. Aside from the lower starting salaries, take note that loans have to be paid. The typical law graduate has to pay off $125,000, since going to law school is a very expensive option.

Choosing a law school

There are quite a number of law schools that have opened up all across the United States over the past several years. However, most of them are still in the lower tier when compared with the elite law schools such as Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and the like. Statistics say that those who come from any one of the top 20 law schools in the country are twice as likely to hold full-time jobs when compared with those who come from schools ranked 21 and below.

However, getting into any one of these high-ranked law schools is more difficult, as the competition is much tougher.

Is it worth it?

Now that you know these things, ask yourself if it is still worth it to go to law school. The answer is different for each person. If you can get into an elite law school, there bigger chances to land a job after, and there is more prestige attached to you.

Graduating from an elite law school typically carries a higher starting salary, which can make paying off loans much quicker.

If you don’t feel like you can get into any of the elite schools, and you have a low chance of graduating in the top of your class – if you decide to go to a lower-tier school – then perhaps you should reconsider if the law profession is really for you, as you might encounter trouble getting a job.

However, Michael Anderson, who belongs to a group of criminal defense attorneys, summed it up best. He said that if law is really your passion, then nothing can prevent you from going to law school, finishing well, getting a job, and becoming the best lawyer you can be. If it is really your passion, you will work hard, study hard, and eventually reap the rewards of your effort.

How to Discharge Student Loans via Bankruptcy

Many, if not most, college students take out loans to finance their education. This is a stark reality particularly as the price of college education continues to rise.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau revealed that more than 41 million Americans are now facing federal student loan debt. On the average, each owes the government almost $30,000 in student loan debt and one in four borrowers are either in default or behind their payments.

Unfortunately, not all student-borrowers are able to settle their payments by the time they graduate. Many still have to deal with repaying their loans even after college. Some have even resorted to filing bankruptcy just so they could discharge of their student loans.

Discharging student loans, however, is not encouraged by U.S. Congress believing that educated workers command higher salaries and can become more competitive in the global economy. The process has been made more difficult and requires students to repay their loans even if they don’t complete their education or could not get employed in their specific area of study. In fact, student loan discharge via bankruptcy has more restrictions than discharging other forms of debt.

Steps to Discharge a Student Loan

Today, there are only a few circumstances that a student can have his federal loan discharged. And he or she needs to prove to the bankruptcy court his financial hardship in settling the loan.

To determine the level of hardship, the court uses three criteria. The first is the student will not be able to maintain a minimal standard of living if forced to continue paying the loan. Secondly, there should be evidence that the financial difficulty will continue during the loan repayment period and third, the borrower has made an effort to repay the loan usually for a minimum of five years before filing bankruptcy.

In the event that any of these requirements are found not true, the loan will not be discharged. If the loan is discharged, the borrower will not have to repay any longer as the collection will be stopped.

Students who are firm in filing for bankruptcy can choose between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. A major requirement under Chapter 7 is to prove that the borrower has no steady income to pay his debts. It should be understood, though that your loan debt will not be totally eliminated as you will still have to pay at the terms you can afford.

Chapter 13, on the other hand, is suited for debtors who have income and who can still afford to pay part of their debts. This also includes a restructure scheme in the repayment of debts with your monthly payments having a chance to be reduced. You’re not off the hook, though, even after your bankruptcy repayment period ends.

Do take note that although these two options can eliminate your debt including medical or credit card bills, the borrower may still have to give up some of his property to repay part of his debt. Normally, the process of loan discharge through bankruptcy takes four to six months.

What kind of insurance do students need on campus?

College life is the beginning of many new things for teens. It usually means living on their own, being independent, having a new set of friends and companions, and basically making a transition into adulthood.

A lot of decisions have to be made with regard to moving into college. You might find yourself asking questions like, how many units should I take? What kind of part time job should I get for additional income? Should I live on campus or off it? These are just some. With these tough decision to make, along with weighing the costs of each, students might forget the need for insurance while in college. What kind of insurance do students need while in college?

There are three major types of insurance that students need or would consider; that would be beneficial to them in the long run. These are health insurance, renters insurance, and car insurance. Let’s take a look at each one.

Health insurance

Getting sick entails a lot of unwanted costs. The problem is, we do not know when we are getting sick and for how long we will stay in the hospital if we do. Additionally, there are other costs like medication that should be taken into consideration after going out of the hospital. As such, getting health insurance is highly encouraged. Some schools even make this a requirement prior to enrollment.

There are two popular ways to get this – as a dependent on your parents’ health insurance coverage (which lasts until age 26), or a student health insurance policy.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, it is highly recommended that you stay as a dependent, since getting your own plan would most likely entail additional costs. Healthier students have the option of getting an individual health care plan thru the college they’re in. Most health insurance plans provided on campus are general in nature – meaning they cover mostly smaller claims such as consultations, minor lab work, and others.

Renters insurance

This is one type of insurance that college students often neglect, but is quite important, particularly if you choose to live off campus. Renters insurance covers personal items stolen from vehicles, dorms, or homes – such as laptops, bicycles, furniture, home accessories, and electronic equipment. When students are forced to move due to a covered loss, the relocation expenses are also covered. For an approximate cost of $10 to $30 per month, it’s a good deal that most college students do not take advantage of.

Car insurance

Most college students drive their own cars when they reach college age. That means auto insurance costs as well. You have the option of using your parents’ insurance policy or get your own auto insurance. However, both have their pros and cons and it is best to talk to your insurance agent or search for other insurance plans from other companies in order to make comparisons.

Typically, auto insurance companies offer student discounts. One example of this is a “good student” discount, which some companies offer to students that have consistently good grades. You can get as much as 10 to 20 percent off in this instance.

A good way to save on premiums is to make sure your car has a good safety rating, according to an accident attorney. Anti-theft systems and anti-lock brakes are examples of safety features in a vehicle. When your car is equipped with these, you get a higher safety rating, which then translates into lower insurance costs.

These three types of insurance will come in handy during your college life. It is best to consider each of them and their benefits, especially in the long term.

5 College Expenses You Can Cut Back On

There’s no denying that getting a college education these days is expensive. The truth is, college students most often encounter more expenses as they start the schoolyear. The reason is that they need to spend for other things in addition to the basics that they have to pay upfront such as tuition and accommodation.

A report on Trends in College Pricing from the College Board revealed that tuition and fees make up only 38 percent of the total expenses for in-state students enrolled in public institutions offering four-year courses. For full-time students in community colleges, the expenses is lower by 19 percent even if the student lives away from home. Extra expenses that add up to a college student’s budget normally include books and media, class fees, parking fees for those who drive their own cars, electronics, social activities, fraternities and sororities, food and drinks, mobile phone service, clothing, cable TV, furnishings and travel.

But do not be discouraged because any college student focused on obtaining his degree can take steps to save money. What’s needed are discipline and the commitment to live within one’s means.

Plan Your Meals

Many college students are fond of eating at restaurants or treating their friends without thinking of its impact on their budget. Some are also subscribed to college meal plans which can cost a lot. To lessen your food expense, you can opt for other options including nutritional meals that don’t even involve cooking.

Rent Books

Being in college does not necessarily mean you have to buy all the books required for your subjects. Take note that textbooks are usually sold at a high price but when it’s time to resell them, you’ll only gain a little. So why not use the ones available in your school library or rent books instead? Online, you can find some good resources such as Amazon and TextbookRentals.com. Check out those sites for options that fit your budget.

For college scholars, supplies including books are covered in addition to the tuition fees. If you are eligible for a scholarship (academic or athletic) in your chosen school, find out more about it or ask your academic adviser for options available.

Make a Budget Plan

College students should also learn to make their own budget and not rely on their parents on this matter. Most often, many forget about this important part when they are having fun with friends going out and dining out or are eager to buy the latest trends in fashion and gadgets.

But you need to be aware of your expenses and set limits if possible. This applies to all students, whether enrolled as part-time or full-time. If you’re the type of person who has the habit of buying personal items every now and then, it would be a good idea to find a part-time job that can provide you extra income.

Don’t Use a Car

Driving a car can entail add up to your school expenses as you need to spend for your gas on a regular basis. But this is really not necessary if you’re a student, according to Kelly Decsy, among Los Angeles’ best car accident attorney. This is because most campuses are only within walking distance from dorms and apartments. Some universities also have their own buses to service their students who live outside of the campus.

Avoid Data Plans

Those who are subscribed to mobile data plans can actually do away with it as most college and university campuses offer Wi-Fi as a complimentary service to students. Hence with internet access available in school, there’s no need to pay monthly bills for your cell phone data plans.

Domestic Violence on College Campuses Needs to Stop

 

Earlier this year, a 21-year old student of the University of Washington died after she was strangled to death by her boyfriend in her apartment at University District. The accused, also a student of the same university, was high on drugs and suspected that his girlfriend was conspiring against him. It is only one of a rising number of cases of domestic violence in colleges and universities across the United States.

A survey done by a partnership of The Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation in 2015 showed that one in five women say they had been sexually assaulted during their four years in college. Alcohol, drugs, casual encounters and the presence of fraternities and sororities in campus contributed to the prevalence of these incidents. Further, the Justice Department found that 80 percent of these cases are not reported. Hence, the 1-in-5 figure could be an understatement. But in recent years, victims are starting to speak out. Social media, openness among young people and awareness of their rights have helped in bringing to the fore this growing problem. Advocates are more vocal in their criticisms against how colleges and universities for inadequate or inept handling of such cases.

Domestic violence on campuses is not limited to rape or sexual assault. It includes intimidation, physical attacks, battery, psychological and emotional abuse by one partner towards another in an intimate relationship. What complicates an issue of sexual violence is whether the act was consensual, as is usually claimed by the perpetrator, or if it was done forcibly or while the victim was incapacitated. The consequences are dire for the victim. Many drop out, out of frustration and humiliation, especially if the case is not handled well by the school. Oftentimes, victims suffer physical injuries that require treatment and mental health problems related to the violence they have been subjected to. A domestic violence attorney says some victims die at the hands of their partner as in the case of the UW student.

Making a traumatic situation worse for the injured party are law enforcement authorities who are perceived to be lenient towards offenders. The judge in the trial of Brock Turner, a Stanford University student convicted of three counts of felony assault and rape on an unconscious woman, sentenced him to only six months in prison. He was released after serving three months. Prosecutors had recommended six years in prison for the student athlete.

Men and women are supposed to be protected by Title IX, a federal gender equity law that requires reporting of all sexual assault cases from schools. But in 2014, 55 institutions of higher education were investigated for possible violations of this law, according to the White House.

But things are looking better. The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, signed into law by Pres. Obama, has a provision called Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (Campus SAVE.) Effective July 1, 2015, it calls for schools to report yearly all incidents of domestic violence, dating violence and stalking that occur on campus. This includes acts of violence against gender and national origin. It also mandates schools to provide victims of domestic violence with clear options on reporting to campus officials and the local police department.

School authorities now have a clear guideline to handling domestic violence on school grounds and students feel safer. The amendment bodes well for putting a stop, or reducing, such incidents on campus.

What are the work options like for US exchange students?

If you are an international student currently in the United States, maybe you’re thinking to yourself how to get additional income while studying? Is it legal to work or get a job while in the US on a student visa? Let’s find out if this is possible by taking a look at US rules and regulations concerning this, as well as the any restrictions and requirements of the student visa.

Many foreigners studying in the US hold an F-1 visa, which is the official term for a US non-immigrant student visa. The simple answer to the second question posed above is, yes, it is legal to work while on a student visa (F-1) as long as you meet the conditions and guidelines issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

On campus employment

This is the easiest work option for foreign students as it does not require prior USCIS approval. Most institutions require you to coordinate with the International Student department prior to being employed on campus. On campus employment means that the work must be directly for the school, or those which provide direct student services.

The following are rules that have to be met:

  • student must maintain valid status
  • while school is in session, the student can only work up to 20 hours a week
  • during vacation season, the student can work full time as long as he/she plans to register for the following semester
  • the employment must not displace a US citizen

Off campus employment

A student with an F-1 visa is not allowed to work off campus unless there is authorization from the International Student office. This authorization is somewhat difficult to obtain – there must be proof of financial hardship due to unforeseen circumstances. Examples of these are, exchange rate severely devalued, a considerable increase in tuition costs, or medical bills that have to be paid, among others. The student must also show that on campus employment is either not available, or insufficient for him/her to be able to overcome the financial hardship. The student can work 20 hours a week during school session, and full time during breaks if:

  • the student has had an F-1 status for at least 9 months or one school year
  • the student has good academic standing
  • proof of financial hardship is presented
  • proof that on-campus employment is insufficient (or unavailable) is presented

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

OPT is a work option provided for foreign students, which is similar to off-campus employment. Students can choose the OPT while they are completing their degree, or even after they graduate. The USCIS governs this area, and a student can only begin working as soon as he/she receives an employment authorization document. Several rules must be followed, such as:

  • employment must be directly related to the student’s major or degree
  • lawful F-1 status
  • OPT is only permitted for a total of 12 months
  • must be full time, if choosing OPT after getting a degree; part-time when school is in session

The common denominator regarding the different work options is maintaining legal student visa status for the entirety of its validity. Any offense against this could lead to being deported and future immigration and visa problems. If there is an area that you wish to clarify regarding your visa status, it is best to consult experts such as green card lawyers, rather than risk doing something illegal and being punished as a result of that decision.