Paul L. Caron

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Texas Tech Law School Informs U.S. News Of 'Substantial' Misstatement Of Its Student Loan Data The Past Three Years

Texas Tech Law School informed U.S. News today that it submitted incorrect data on the average debt of its graduates for each of the past three years:

Texas Tech LogoThe error was originated three years ago by the main campus Office for Student Financial Aid and Scholarships, which collects this data for the Law School. The Law School relies reasonably and in good faith on our campus partners in Financial Aid to collect accurate data for us for our rankings purposes. We were very surprised and disappointed to learn that we received inaccurate data from this office under its prior leadership. ...

As Dean, I take full responsibility for the Law School’s failure to uncover the Office of Student Financial Aid’s reporting errors and ensure a correction before the Law School in turn reported incorrect data to US News. In particular, I should have implemented a more extensive and systematic set of review procedures for this area, which would have uncovered the error, and placed less reliance on the Office of Student Financial Aid’s review process and reports.

The misreport on this metric was substantial. The corrected debt numbers are the following: For 2019, the correct average debt number was $98,695, and the incorrect reported number was $62,583. For 2020, the correct average debt number was $86,023, and the incorrect reported number was $56,898. For 2021, last year, the correct average debt number was $85,956, and the incorrect reported number was $60,088. While these numbers were misreported to US News, they were never directly marketed to applicants by the Law School. We also remain a lower debt law school, and our corrected debt number for 2021 is still well below the national average for debt and a lower number than all but one of the other law schools in this state reporting average debt to US News.

Notably, the impact of this misreport was not substantial on our overall US News ranking.

This measure—average debt—was only 3% of the overall US News assessment for the last two ranking years and was not used at all for the rankings in the first year of our misreport. Had we found this mistake earlier, and reported accurate data for the last two years, we believe our ranking would have been just six to seven spots lower at most and could even have stayed the same—based on an analysis done for us by the Spivey Consulting Group. Additionally, US News has already announced that they will not be using this debt metric at all in the next set of rankings which they will release in March of 2023.

Texas Tech's reported average debt ($60,088) ranked #5 out of 192 law schools in the current rankings. The correct average debt number ($85,956) would have ranked #50. As of this morning, Texas Tech remains in the U.S. News ranking, ranked #105.

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