Law Schools, Money, Student Loans

University of Miami School of Law Slows Growth of Tuition

Crushing Debt Obligations.jpgWe’ve talked a lot about law schools that are raising tuition. It borders on unconscionable for schools to pump up tuition at a time of deflationary legal salaries and a difficult job market.

So I was a little surprised when I received this email from a University of Miami School of Law student:

The Dean of UM just sent out an email announcing policy changes that are going to save students’ tuition money (up to a couple thousand $$$ per semester). This while other law school in America is trying to milk every last cent out of students.

A law school that costs less? To the Batmobile!

Unfortunately, Miami is not lowering tuition outright. Instead, the school is making sure that nobody is paying extra tuition. Here’s how Miami Law School Dean Patricia White explains it:

Dear Students,

There are two tuition policy changes which I would like to announce and bring to your attention as you go about registering for next semester. Both of them are designed to help you cap your tuition cost in any given semester to the amount of the law school’s then full-time tuition semester rate (currently $18,709). Both of these changes will go into effect this Spring semester.

That’s still a hefty per semester cost. But the website Top Law Schools explains that it is not totally unreasonable given the state of legal education right now:

At $38,012, tuition at Miami is neither terribly high nor especially low. Considering also room and board (~$13,000) and miscellaneous fees (~$9,000 including books), the annual cost of attendance at Miami is approximately $60,000. Multiplied by three years and the total cost becomes almost $180,000. This is a hefty price-tag; but Miami is pretty good about awarding financial aid (to 32% of its students). Grants in 2007 ranged from $15,300 to $23,000, and the median was a strong $20,000.

Yeah, that’s a lot of money. But South Beach is pretty awesome.

The biggest benefit from the change at Miami is that students can take classes at other schools in the University of Miami system at no additional charge. Maybe they can learn some skills that are more marketable than all this legal training?

Read the full email below.


UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI SCHOOL OF LAW — MEMORANDUM — TUITION cap

Dear Students,

There are two tuition policy changes which I would like to announce and bring to your attention as you go about registering for next semester. Both of them are designed to help you cap your tuition cost in any given semester to the amount of the law school’s then full-time tuition semester rate (currently $18,709). Both of these changes will go into effect this Spring semester.

1) Under our current rules, all UM Law students may take up to 6 credits of graduate level coursework in another UM department or school and count these credits toward their law degree. The rules describing what is allowed are set out in Chapter 16 of the Student Handbook.

Unfortunately many of you have felt discouraged from taking advantage of this opportunity by our tuition structure. Rather than try to describe that structure in detail, let me just say that it often worked to impose an extra charge on students who took allowed courses outside of the Law School. This will no longer be the case. Your Law School tuition will now cover those nonlaw courses which you take and apply to your law degree. There will be no surcharge. I very much hope that this will encourage you to take greater advantage of what the University has to offer.

Some of you are currently pursuing joint degree programs. I hope that the number of such programs will expand very soon. The tuition structure has made these programs more expensive than they need to be.

The change described above will have the effect of capping the tuition cost of any given semester at the full-time Law School rate. One warning…we may not succeed in getting the University billing system adjusted quickly enough to keep you from getting tuition bills charging you more than $18,709. Please be patient and simply send the notice of any such charges to deanofstudents@law.miami.edu We will make sure that your bill is corrected. Please do not complain to the University billing folks!!

2) Under certain unusual circumstances students are allowed to request permission to take 17 credits in a semester. Permission to do this must be given by the Dean of Students. In the past, we have charged additional tuition for that extra credit (currently $1633). The full time rate has been limited to 16 credits.

Henceforth, for tuition purposes, we will not charge additional tuition for 17 credits. This change will not affect the conditions under which permission to take a 17th credit will be granted.

I hope that these changes are helpful to you.

Patricia D. White
Dean & Professor of Law
University of Miami School of Law

Earlier: UC Hastings Law School to $50K (Non-Resident Tuition)
University of Miami Law School Puts Some Money into Public Service

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