Paul L. Caron

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Average Private Law School Tuition Discount Approaches 50%

Tuition DiscountDavid Yellen (Dean, Loyola-Chicago), Tuition Discounting on the Rise and its Impact on Law Schools:

According to this new survey, tuition discounting at private colleges and universities reached an average of 48% for freshman last year.  That is up from 38% in 2004.

How does this compare to what has been happening in legal education?  Back around 2004 I surveyed a range of private schools and the average discount rate was around 20%, about half of what it was then at colleges.  This year, based on what I know about my school and a handful of others, the average private law school discount rate is close to the college rate of 48%, maybe even somewhat higher.  

This enormous increase reflects the intense competition for a much smaller number of applicants.  Most of this increased spending has occurred since 2010.  Nominal tuition rates have gone up during this time, but for many schools the rate of increase is smaller than in the past and much lower than the increase in scholarship spending.  Put these factors together, and it reveals the massive hits our budgets have taken.

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Unem NErn -- The 509 is a combined three class years of data, so it does not reflect current discount rates for the new class very quickly.

Posted by: jeb | Aug 27, 2015 10:22:48 AM

It's good that someone is pointing out these scholarships. I'm amazed at the articles that express outrage over increases in nominal tuition rates, without mentioning anything about discounts (i.e., scholarships), which have also been increasing. To charge people different rates is a classic form of "price discrimination" based on willingness to pay, which is typically an optimal way to price things for all parties involved.

Posted by: anon. | Aug 27, 2015 8:02:35 AM

One can just go to each law school's Form 509, which has the # of students receiving no discount, $1 to 50% discount, 50% to 100% discount, full boat, and more than full boat discounts - along with the 25th, median, and 75th percentile grant amounts. At Columbia Law, for example, which currently stickers at $60,000/year tuition and $25,000/year living expenses, only 539 of 1250 students received any manner of discounting, and the median discount was $15,000. For point of reference, when the current NYC Biglaw market rate of $160,000/year was set, tuition at Columbia Law was $38,000/year.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Aug 27, 2015 7:47:21 AM

I think it is because the average indebtedness number does not include the zeros.

The rubes are still getting fleeced to finance the high LSAT GPA "merit" scholarships.

Justice. . . or Just Us. Unconscionable.

Posted by: terry malloy | Aug 27, 2015 6:49:56 AM

I find this hard to square with the jaw dropping average indebtedness numbers coming out of law schools.

Posted by: Jojo | Aug 27, 2015 1:32:20 AM