Racial Differences in Law School Debt Levels

Journal of Blacks in Higher Education

More than 21,000 students at 80 U.S. law schools responded to the 2015 Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE). The survey is administered by the Center for Postsecondary Research at Indiana University.
The study found that 90 percent of law school students accumulated student loan debt. For graduates of private law schools, the average debt load in 2012 was $127,000. Graduates of public law schools had average debt of $88,000. The LSSSE data shows that in 2015, 61 percent of Black law school graduates had accumulated more than $100,000 in student loan debt. About 40 percent of White law school graduates had student loan debt of more than $100,000.

The LSSSE survey reports that 71 percent of all law school students received some type of financial aid. Nearly four fifths of all scholarships for students at U.S. law schools were merit based. More than two-thirds of White respondents received merit scholarships, compared to less than half of Black respondents.

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