Wednesday, September 4, 2013
The American Lawyer: Law School Tuition Will Rise Despite Applicant Nosedive, by Matt Leichter:
[T]he biggest news item for legal education in August was the Law School Admissions Council's (LSAC's) final law school applicant count for fall 2013. Only 59,426 people applied for law school admission this year, down from 67,957 in 2012 and 78,500 in 2011. Although the 8,531-applicant drop is substantial, it's less than the 10,543-applicant decline from the previous year, an indication that the applicant decline is decelerating.
With interest in obtaining a legal education falling, one might expect schools to reduce their tuition prices to entice more applicants into attending. To some extent this is beginning to occur, but only modestly so. ... But no law schools are retrenching to 20th century levels. Surprisingly, some schools are increasing their stated costs. ...
Why can law schools raise tuition prices even as seats go unfilled? [First,] the cost of legal education has always increased, even when the number of applicants has fallen. ... The second reason not to be surprised that the cost of law school continues to rise is that fewer law students pay full price than was the case several years ago. ... Third, it's obvious by now that law school applicants are insensitive to legal education costs and price increases. ... The fourth reason we shouldn't expect law school tuition prices to drop is that law schools will more aggressively advertise the various income-sensitive repayment plans available for federal government loans to any applicants and students who are told they must pay sticker price. ... Fifth, law schools may not have much control over their overhead or even their listed costs. ... Finally, so long as the Grad PLUS loan program offers unlimited funding to law students above what they can borrow via unsubsidized Stafford loans, and so long as some law schools can credibly promise professional jobs for graduates, costs will go up.