Boston College Law Student Wants Tuition Back

(NECN: Greg Wayland) - It's a difficult decision many have made in this tough economy. Go back to school, and go into debt in hopes of creating a better future.

Many have turned to law school. But one Boston College student says it's not working out and he wants his money back.  

It was all eyes on Eagle i Online -- and an anonymous, disgruntled third year law student's open letter to Interim Dean George Brown on that student-run website asking for a tuition refund.

Good idea? washing dirty law school linen in public? Law school students -- thought not necessarily B.C. law school students -- are weighing in.

"No," said one.  I think it makes the school look bad. I think professionally it makes them (the student) look bad,too."

The open letter greets Dean Brown warmly but ultimately makes an offer:

"I am willing to leave law school, without a degree at the end of this semester," the anonymous student writes. "In return, I would like a full refund of the tuition I've paid over the last two and a half years."

Another law school student liked that approach, saying, "You know what? He's a law student. He's making an offer. I think that's smart."

And what's causing the open letter writer's discontent?

"...Many of us," he says, "are in an enormous amount of debt from our legal studies...I go to bed every night terrified of the thought of trying to provide for my child AND paying off my JD and resentful at the thought that I was convinced to go to law school by empty promises of a fulfilling and remunerative career."

B.C. law students, including editors of Eagle i Online either were not commenting or couldn't be reached for comment.

But in downtown Boston, many students at The New England School of Law  had heard about the controversy and had some thoughts.

"I mean i laughed at first. that was my first reaction," said first year student James Crawford. "But he does have a kid on the way and it's a very gutsy letter to write. "

Third year student Bill Lane said, "The worst case scenario, he ends up paying the debt he already owes. Best case scenario, he's forgiven. "

But Paul Hobbes, also in his last year of study, said. " There are no promises when you enroll that you are going to get a job. You just have to put forth your best effort and see where the cards fall. "

He notes the legal term for that. It's called, "assumption of risk."

Meanwhile, a statement from B.C.. Law School spokesman Nate Kenyon says in part."...we are deeply concerned about the job prospects and general well-being of our students and our recent graduates....

But no institution of higher education can make a guarantee of a job after graduation. What we can do is provide the best education possible."

The American Bar Association puts the average amount borrowed by law school students, as of 2008, at nearly one hundred thousand dollars. The average public law school student borrows over seventy thousand.

And the market for lawyers is shrinking. 

B.C. officials and student web site editors seem to be protecting the identity of the student who wrote the letter. One officials claimed the student was stunned at how his proposal shot through the media. They acknowledge that his offer is unlikely to be entertained by the school. And they say they fear it  could further narrow his  post-graduate job prospects if his identity were known.

Every law student we approached, whether or not they support the anonymous B.C. student, admitted  they have fears about their post-graduation job prospects. But they all claim to be realists.

"Yeah, we're all scared about jobs," said New England School of Law second year student Joe Maccarone." But I think we'll all be fine."

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