Paul L. Caron

Monday, August 3, 2020

Fall 2021 Law School Admissions Prediction: Applications Up, Scholarship Aid Down

Mike Spivey (Spivey Consulting), Predicting the 2020/2021 Law School Admissions Cycle:

[W]e think applications will be up, and our best guess is about 5-7%. ...

This does not necessarily mean the cycle will be more competitive. The need for increased revenue at law schools (and in higher education generally) is real. For 20+ years I have seen predictions of law schools having to admit larger classes or decrease tuition remission (merit scholarships) for financial viability, and for 20+ years we have yet to see this at the macro level. If that ever changes, it will be in the next year or two. Law schools have been tuition- and central university-dependent for capital infusions, and we don't see how most universities will be able to continue their financial support of law schools with COVID-19 and the 2026 Demographic Cliff both severely changing their way of operating.

This may mean larger class sizes at many schools, which is good for applicants hoping to get in, though not necessarily great for job prospects. It also may mean less merit aid. When you look at line item expenses for law schools, the first two that pop out are faculty salary and tuition remission, a.k.a. scholarships. We've talked about this before — every year schools increasingly use scholarships to woo high-stat or otherwise desirable applicants. It's reached a point where almost three-quarters of law school students are getting some kind of tuition discount:


It will be hard for schools not to reduce such remission if they want to stay budget positive. Such potential reductions make it even more beneficial to apply early, before potentially depleted merit scholarship budgets are exhausted.

Ultimately, we are predicting slightly more applications and likely less merit aid, but not necessarily a more competitive cycle.

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