Wednesday, June 30, 2010

housing & budget workshop

Things to consider when looking for a place in NY.

- What can you afford? If you're going through a realtor, give him a figure you're comfortable with. Look at all your expenses and see if your rent is going to limit them in some way.

- Make the roommate decision before hunting. Decide if you're capable of sharing a place with one or more people and try to find them and discuss your budget and where you'd like to live. Also, try to be honest in what you can live with and what will drive you bat-shit crazy.

- NY is a big place and you don't have to confine yourself to Manhattan. Wherever you decide to live, look around and familiarize yourself with the neighborhood.

-Take public transportation into consideration. Make sure you say you want a place close to a subway line. The 1 takes you a block away from the school etc etc

-Be open with your realtor about what you want and need from an apartment. 1Ls spend most of the day at the school, so you need a place that will give you an opportunity to relax, be quiet enough to study, is well-lit and safe. Take into consideration laundry, internet, cable and whatever else you deem necessary.

-Give feedback to the realtor about places you've seen: you liked this and hated that. It will help him narrow his field of search for you and show him you are serious about the search and not just wasting his time while you troll Craigslist.

-Be careful of Craigslist. Many times the apartment listed is "no longer available" and they have a more expensive place to sucker you into.

- If you're coming from out of state, tell the realtor when you plan to visit NY and have him schedule the places you might be interested in seeing. Have him send it to you, along with photos, and strike what you can from your home state. If it's out of your price range, strike. You won't want to waste time during a short visit and you'd want to leave knowing you have a place to live.

- Have your paperwork ready. If you love the place, chances are someone else will, too. As the student-tenant, you need photo ID and proof of being a student. You will also need a guarantor, even if you've worked your entire life and plan to play for the place out of your own savings, the landlord will require a guarantor, by virtue of the fact that you are a student. Your guarantor will need to have his previous year's tax returns, should be able to show he has 80 times the rent (depends on the landlord), his bank statement and 2 current pay stubs. Find out before you go to see the place of you need anything else and start ensuring your guarantor can put these documents in your hand when you leave so you can give it to the realtor/landlord as soon as you see the place you want.


-You financial aid (see below) is only calculated for 9 months. Only if you are in classes over the summer, will you get any money. I'm trying to see if I can restructure it for 12 and live within my means! It's important to me not to touch the Hwang family money for law school stuff. That's what the loan is for.

-Factor in your additional costs. The school can help with the purchase of a laptop, health insurance premiums and child care. This will increase your financial aid/loan. You must purchase the laptop during the school term. If you buy if on August 17, you take the receipt to the Financial Aid office and they will notify you when the reimbursement check comes in. You are only allowed one laptop per student for your career at NYLS. Child care is only for the time that is given up because you are attending law school: eg, you were a stay-at-home parent and need daycare for your baby.

-Check to see the status of your Direct Graduate Plus loan. I had many questions that Jade Kolb answered for me. She took me into her office and checked my status in front of me. Because banks no longer give out student loans, this federal loan business is new to the school and the first year it's in full application. But Jade was very patient in talking me through the steps I had taken and assured me I was set and my tuition is going to be paid. This is hard for me to explain and one of the reasons I was so paranoid about it is because it was so foreign to me and I couldn't seem to ask the proper questions that would satisfy me. Actually seeing the information in front me was exactly what I needed.

-In case you lost your financial aid letter (like I did) here is the breakdown of expenses
$46,460 - tuition
$17,082 - room & board (board is whatever fees and bills you pay for upkeep)
$1,300 - books and supplies
$3,510 - personal expenses (cell phone bill, groceries etc)
$801 - transportation (a monthly metro card for subway and bus use)

-There's a 4% fee for the graduate plus loan and that's per year. The loan interest rate is 7.9% and that's fixed for the 17 years you have to pay it. Go to for an actual free credit report.

-We get a copy card the first week of school and are given 300 free copies.

-Everyone who attended the workshop got a cute NYLS lunchbag to encourage us to brown-bag it over buying food in Tribeca!