By Lori AthertonMay 5, 2014
Discussing how to finance one's law school education and pay back loans can be a daunting prospect for students, but Lindsey Stetson, Michigan Law's newly appointed director of financial aid, hopes to lessen the anxiety surrounding the topic.
Stetson, a 2005 graduate of Michigan Law, was officially named director of financial aid after serving as acting director following last fall's retirement of Katherine Gottschalk, the longtime assistant dean for financial aid. Stetson previously had served as Michigan Law's assistant director of admissions since 2009. Prior to joining the Law School, she practiced corporate transactional law at Miller Canfield in Detroit and at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLC in Chicago.
"I'm really enjoying my new role and think it's a great fit for my personality, skill set, and background," Stetson said. "I was a corporate transactional attorney, so my knowledge of numbers and how systems work is really helpful in looking at the big picture of financial aid. Having worked in admissions, I interacted with admitted students on how to choose a law school, and now I can counsel them on how to think about finances when making a law school choice, and how to think about debt once they become students and after they graduate."
Sarah Zearfoss, '92, senior assistant dean for admissions, financial aid, and career planning, said she is "thrilled to be working with Lindsey in this new capacity. To see her putting her considerable skills to use on behalf of our alumni and current students, as well as our prospective students, is terrific. She has already come up with ways to improve the way Financial Aid works with other parts of the Law School, like the Office of Career Planning, and I can't wait to see all the fresh ideas she will contribute."
One of Stetson's goals is to provide more education for incoming and current students on the ins and outs of financial aid, from helping them better understand how loans work and what it means to have debt, to budgeting and recognizing how debt can affect their career choices and financial future. When counseling students, Stetson said she often draws upon her personal experience of having attended Michigan Law and taken out loans, which provides a real-world perspective that resonates with students.
"I know the technical aspects of taking out a loan and the financial impact when you are repaying student debt," Stetson said, "but I also know how it feels emotionally to make career choices and change jobs, and how my law school debt played a role in those choices. I think it's comforting for students to know that someone was in the same position that they are in now."
Stetson stresses that it's important for students to be proactive and ask questions early on about their repayment plan options, and to keep track of how much they've borrowed over the course of their law school career in order to avoid being caught unaware at graduation.
"Be aware of what you are borrowing and what the financial impact will be," Stetson said. "Don't wait until the 11th hour, because we don't want you to be surprised by your debt and how much it will cost to pay it back. Students can talk to us at any time about their concerns—we're here to counsel students at any point in the process. We never want students to reach the point that they feel uncomfortable with or unsure of their decisions."
Michigan Law's Financial Aid Office is located in South Hall, Suite 2200. To schedule an appointment, call 734.764.5289 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Walk-in appointments are also available Monday through Friday.
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