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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Friday, September 14, 2018

Higher Law School Tuition Boosts Enrollment, Higher Law School Tuition Actually Boosts Enrollment, Study Finds:

There’s been no shortage of hand-wringing over the high cost of a law degree, but it turns out that hefty tuition prices aren’t a major factor in where aspiring lawyers opt to enroll.

That’s the takeaway from a new paper examining whether rising costs impact the number of people who apply and enroll in law school. Author Amy Li, a professor in the University of Northern Colorado’s department of leadership, policy and development, found that not only is there no correlation between lower costs and the number of applicants and matriculants at individual schools, but that increased costs correlate to higher enrollment at many private law schools. Put another way, enrollment tends to get bigger when schools charge more for tuition and fees, counterintuitive as that may seem.

“The findings highlight the willingness of students to apply to and enroll at law schools despite increases in tuition and fees,” Li wrote in her paper, Dollars and Sense: Student Price Sensitivity to Law School Tuition. “This study reveals that there is in fact, a lack of price sensitivity in legal education.” ...

Li found that there was no relationship between published tuition and fees and number of applicants schools attracted. Higher tuition did not dissuade people from applying. She then looked at net tuition—the average cost students paid after scholarships—to see if schools with lower costs enrolled more students. The opposite proved true. Law schools with higher net costs had larger first-year classes. For every $1,000 a school raised tuition annually, they enrolled one additional student, on average.

Legal Education | Permalink


I was talking to a student who was enrolled at my private law school and who was accepted to a value priced state law school—the education at both schools were comparable. I asked him why he chose the private law school—four times as expensive—and he responded that the state school couldn’t be very good given the very low cost.

Posted by: Beau Baez | Sep 14, 2018 7:23:53 AM

Maybe the Harvards of the world can charge more because everyone wants to go to Harvard, and can also admit more students because everyone wants to go to Harvard.

If students weren't price sensitive, law schools wouldn't offer scholarships.

Posted by: Price sensetive | Sep 15, 2018 3:20:02 PM

Hmmm. I thought people only went to HLS because they couldn't get into HBS or Yale Law. As for "admit more students," well, Harvard's 1L class is about the size of those at Stanford, Yale, and Chicago combined, so it's fairly alone in the pursuit of huge classes at that level.

But I'm sure a few of those snowflakes will cry bitter tears when they learn what $375k in student loans - $95k *3 + interest + tuition increases + bar expenses + average undergrad debt - does to their lives.

Fun fact: IRL I legit walked off the Harvard undergrad campus tour because it was so insufferably smug and self-important. It rather reminds me of your post. Also you spelled "sensitive" wrong, doofus.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Sep 15, 2018 11:17:57 PM

When students are handed a blank check courtesy of Federal loans, why would there be price sensitivity?

Posted by: brad | Sep 17, 2018 9:26:19 AM


Back when law students could only borrow $20,500 per year in federal student loans, there were fourth-tier law schools stickering at $36,000 per year before living expenses. There was no price sensitivity back then because of private lenders, and since the loans were all securitized and nondischargeable, they had little need of due diligence. I might note that those same lenders are lobbying to get rid of GradPLUS today, not because it will lower tuition levels but because they want their market share back.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Sep 17, 2018 10:34:15 PM