Two North Carolina law schools were among the best in a ranking based on average salary of graduates and average debt. Two others were among the worst in the nation.
Online lender SoFi ranked law schools across the country based on verified debt and salary data from more than 60,000 people who applied to refinance their student loans through SoFi in 2014-16.
The only North Carolina law school program to make the top 20 for average salary was the Duke University School of Law in Durham, which was No. 10 with an average salary of $169,096. The average outstanding debt for Duke Law students is $137,257.
Its down-the-road rival, the University of North Carolina School of Law in Chapel Hill was the only law school in the state to make the list of top 10 best value schools – programs that produce students who go on to earn the highest average salaries relative to their average outstanding debt.
UNC Law School graduates earn $123,873 on average and walk away with an average $100,211 in debt, putting the school 10th among the top schools for best return on investment.
The national average for law school debt is more than $140,000, according to a report by the New American Education Policy Program.
Two other North Carolina law programs made the list for worst value – where the average salary for graduates is lower than the average outstanding debt. They were:
▪ Charlotte School of Law. Graduates earn an average salary of $84,285, but have an average outstanding debt of $154,802. The school also often has the lowest bar pass rate in the state and ranks among the worst in the country. The school also has come under scrutiny from its accreditor, the American Bar Association, for questionable practices to boost its bar passage rates.
▪ Elon University School of Law in Elon. The average salary for graduates is $87,680 and they have average outstanding debt of $145,610.