Join The Army To Pay Off Law School Debt

It's good to keep your options open, right? And joining the Army may just be a good option for some of the recent law graduates who haven't been able to find a job. Especially when 85% of law school graduates graduate with $100,000 in student loan debt. 

Take one, Thomas McGregor, for example. McGregor graduated in 2008 from the University of St. Thomas law school in Minnesota with $108,000 in student loans.

McGregor passed the Minnesota state bar and was sworn in as an attorney in late October 2008. He was convinced he'd get a good job right away, circulating his resume and taking an unpaid internship at a legal aid clinic. But McGregor did not land a good job, and later that year, he went back to work for his family's roofing distribution business, where he had worked every summer for 13 years. He was licensed to practice law, but he was driving a forklift and managing roofing material orders for $15 an hour, no benefits.

After several months of job hunting, and with the threat of a deeper recession looming, McGregor decided to enlist in the Army. As McGregor put it, "I paid off $108,000 of law school loan debt. All I had to do was put my life on the line."

McGregor was able to trim his private loan interest rates to 6% with the help of the Soldier Relief Act, which caps interest rates while soldiers serve. And the Army College Loan Repayment Program paid down $65,000 of his loans. The rest he paid off just using his Army salary. He was free of debt by 2012. And he enjoyed the Army so much that he decided to stay.

It's a pretty impressive feat to be able to pay off over $100,000 in debt in just four years. I find it interesting that this story is backwards from the stories you generally hears about people joining the service. Usually, it is the rural poor, for example, that join the service to escape poverty and work toward a college degree with the GI Bill. It's not generally a well-educated lawyer who decides that the Army is his only option. But, again, I suppose it's good to have options.

CNN Money -- I risked my life to pay off $108,000 in student loans


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