Paul L. Caron

Monday, January 6, 2020

ABA 509 Report Data: 73% Of Law Students Receive Scholarships (Up From 49% In 2012)

Following up on my previous posts on the ABA's release of the 509 reports for every law school (links below): Mike Spivey, An In-Depth Analysis of the 2019 Law School Admissions & Entering Class Data:

Scholarship assistance has become the norm for law schools. Large sticker prices are often discounted by merit-based aid; less often, need-based aid is also a factor.

The increase in applicants could have allowed schools to decrease their utilization of scholarships as a way of attracting students – if economic factors were the only things at play. However, the discount rate continued to increase at all ABA schools. In 2019 73.3%, of law school students were receiving a scholarship of some kind. Let that sink in. Almost three quarters of all US law students were not paying the advertised sticker price to receive their legal education.

Spivey 7

We wonder if the legal education pipeline has become entirely dependent on using scholarships as a way of attracting students. From our work with both law schools and central universities, we know that declining law school revenue is an enormous concern. Most law schools are already operating in the red. Excepting a handful of programs with enormous endowments, that's clearly not a sustainable practice. ...

While ABA data is not granular enough to determine exactly how generous schools are, we can make general inferences from the available data.

There are 48 law schools where at least 90% of the class receives scholarship assistance of any amount. There are 5 schools where 100% of the class receives scholarship assistance: Concordia Law School, Pennsylvania State Dickinson, Liberty University, St. Thomas University of Minnesota, and Widener University of Delaware. That's right, not a single student at those schools pays sticker price to attend. Overall, there are only 18 schools where less than half the student population receives financial aid.

Of course, the raw percentage of students receiving scholarships can be deceiving if most of them are receiving small amounts. If we define generosity by looking at how many students at a given school receive a full scholarship or more, then our top five performers are Pennsylvania State- Dickinson (76%), Pennsylvania State-University Park (55%), Northeastern University (44%), Wayne State University (39%), and the University of Nevada- Las Vegas (39%).

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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JC Penney famously *failed* by replacing coupons and sales with everyday low prices.
And remember, most law school applicants are closer to Mall Madness than Costco age.

Posted by: Anand Desai | Jan 6, 2020 6:31:40 PM

If most colleges need to subsidize their law school budgets, why have hardly any pulled the plug? Or will they, when the next recession hits? I'm comparing this to the 1980s, when numerous dental programs, including those at well endowed colleges like Northwestern and Wash U. discontinued their programs.

Posted by: PaulB | Jan 6, 2020 1:46:26 PM