A Boston College law student unhappy with his job prospects has made the prestigious university an offer: return his money and he'll forfeit his degree.
The proposition was made in an open letter written by the student anonymously, identified only as a third-year law school student, and posted last week on the law school's independent student-run website, Eagleionline.
The letter, addressed to the school's Interim Dean George Brown, explains how the student is unable to support his wife and the baby they're expecting and is in "an enormous amount of debt" from his time at Boston College.
"With fatherhood impending, I go to bed every night terrified of the thought of trying to provide for my child AND paying off my J.D, and resentful at the thought that I was convinced to go to law school by empty promises of a fulfilling and remunerative career," the student, who says he's set to graduate in 2011, writes.
In the letter the student criticizes the university's career services department saying that he and his peers have received "little help" to cope with their "financial disasters."
One year at Boston College Law School, including tuition and housing, costs about $60,000, according to the school's website.
"I'd like to propose a solution to this problem: I am willing to leave law school, without a degree, at the end of this semester," writes the student. "In return, I would like a full refund of the tuition I've paid over the last two and a half years."
Repeated requests by ABC News to interview the student were declined. Brown was also not made available for an interview, but a spokesman for the law school issued a written statement.
"As a Jesuit law school, we are deeply concerned about the job prospects and general well-being of our students and our recent graduates," said Nate Kenyon, the director of communications at Boston College. "The job market in the legal profession and beyond has been severely affected by the current economic downturn, which has resulted in one of the most difficult employment climates in the past 70 years, not only for BC Law, but for all schools across the nation."
Boston College Law School Student Wants His Money Back
The most recent Labor Department statistics show the unemployment rate in the United States at 9.6 percent. The jobless rate has now topped 9.5 percent for 14 straight months, the longest stretch since the 1930s.
The unemployment problem, though, is not something a college education can promise to overcome, wrote Kenyon.
"But no institution of higher education can make a guarantee of a job after graduation," said Kenyon. "What we can do is provide the best education possible, and work together to provide as many career opportunities as possible."
Kenyon also disputes the student's claim that the school's career services are inadequate, writing in the statement that the office is committed to working with each student "for as long as necessary to help them find employment."
The letter has garnered a mix of responses online, where comments have ranged from supportive to mean.
Some argue that the student should not have lived outside his means while other say he is right, and the job market for lawyers is "saturated beyond belief."
Others are less kind, writing, "WOW. I feel sorry for your wife, as come April she will have two crying babies in her house."
The student also uses the letter to explain to the university's adminstration why refunding his tuition would actually benefit the law school as well, writing, "On the one hand, I will be free to return to the teaching career I left to come here. I'll be able to provide for my family without the crushing weight of my law school loans."
"On the other hand, this will help BC Law go up in the rankings, since you will not have to report my unemployment at graduation to US News," he wrote.
U.S. News and World Report releases rankings of universities and also data on the debt students have acquired by the time they graduate. According to the report, the average indebtedness of 2009 graduates from Boston College was $96,806, with 83 percent of the graduating class in debt.
The student suggests in his letter that if his tuition is returned the institution will get "better US News rankings" that will help the school "far more than having yet another disgruntled and unemployed alumnus."
It is not yet known whether the university is willing to compromise with the student on any of his requests, but in a section on the school's website addressing tuition refunds, the policy reads, "No tuition will be refunded after the fifth week of classes."