U.S. News data shows Buffalo Law grads’ debt load is light

Published November 18, 2015

The latest data on a much-talked-about issue in legal education, the amount of education debt carried by new graduates, shows that the University at Buffalo School of Law grads carry less debt than nearly ninety percent of their peers.

In a study rank-ordering total student debt from lowest to highest, Buffalo ranks 21st among 184 U.S. law schools in its graduates’ total debt load. That puts the school among the best 12 percent nationwide in terms of lowest debt carried by its graduates.              

UB's School of Law is the only New York State law school in the top 30, and second among law schools in the Northeastern United States.  

The data represented average education debt for 2014 graduates, the latest information available. It was gathered by U.S. News & World Report magazine, which publishes a much-discussed annual ranking of law schools.

Analysis shows that 81 percent of UB Law students graduate with some debt, and that among those who owed money for their education, the average amount was just over $76,000.

By comparison, at the other end of the indebtedness list, graduates of Thomas Jefferson School of Law, in San Diego, averaged more than $172,000 in debt. Similarly, graduates of the private New York Law School, in Manhattan, had average indebtedness of over $166,000.

Full-time tuition for New York State residents studying at the University at Buffalo School of Law is $26,097 a year (this amount includes related fees and additional expenses).

Graduating with lower education debt means that these new alumni feel less financial pressure to seek out higher-paying jobs in traditional law firms. SUNY Buffalo Law has a long tradition of sending its graduates into public-service legal positions, from district attorney’s offices to non-profits providing legal services to indigent clients.