Education / Schools, Law Schools, Money, Student Loans

Arizona State Law School Moving Towards Private Funding Model: Prepare to be Gouged, ASU Law Students

Earlier this week, a story in the National Law Journal (subscription) reported that the Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law is weaning itself off of public funding and trying to become self-sufficient on private dollars. Towards that end, ASU will be raising tuition and admitting more law students.

I wanted to wait until I calmed down before I posted on it, but it doesn’t look like that is going to happen. So I broke into the Bronx Zoo this morning and stole some elephant tranquilizers. I’m going to shoot up and finish this post, now.

[Mmm… serenity…]

The good people at ASU are just responding to the very real problem of a lack of public funding for education, as the NLJ explains:

The Tempe, Ariz., law school hopes to wean itself off public funding during the next five years, Dean Paul Schiff Berman said Tuesday. If all goes according to plan, ASU will be one of just a handful of public law schools that receive little or no state support for their operating budget…

“This is my plan, but it’s in response to the clear writing on the wall, which is that this state — and most other states — are less committed to funding public education than they once were,” Berman said.

I have an idea: Arizona should just charge students more money to make up for the gap in state funding. Students have loads of money, and they’ll be more than happy to help ASU balance its budget:

Officials hope that increasing the number of students at the law school and raising tuition will fill the gap left by reduced public support. Even with an increase, Berman said, the school’s tuition will remain low compared to most other law schools ranked in the top 40. Tuition for in-state students is currently about $22,000 per year, and will rise by between $1,000 and $1,5000 a year, he said. Current out-of-state tuition is about $35,000.

The law school’s entering class now comprises about 195 students; the plan calls for increasing that number that to about 225 within five years. The number of students will also grow outside of the J.D. program; the school recently expanded its LL.M. program for foreign students and its one-year master of legal studies program for non-lawyers.

Yay! More law students being charged more money to go to law school during the most awesome economy ever. This is a great plan. Dean Berman is so smart and I love how he’s putting the welfare of his students over the school’s desperate need for money from whoever is stupid enough to give it to them:

“We’re expanding the scope of legal education,” Berman said. “This is not being driven by revenue concerns, but it will have revenue implications.”

Berman is not concerned that increasing the J.D. class size will make it harder for graduates to secure employment; the increase will be modest, he said, and there are only three law schools in the state.

[Uh oh, tranquilizer wearing off… feel, so angry… pee in my ears, calling it rain. Fire Bad.]

What do you mean this isn’t being driven by revenue concerns? YOU JUST SAID THIS WAS YOUR PLAN TO INCREASE REVENUE! Do you think your students and prospective students are so dumb that they can’t figure out what you are doing to them when you just told them what you are doing? Do they look like a bitch? Then why, WHY, are you trying to f** them like a bitch?

Of course you’re not concerned that increasing the J.D. class size will adversely affect students’ chances of securing employment. That’s their problem, right? Your problem is your budget, not the lives (and credit ratings) you potentially ruin in the process of trying to make the numbers work out.

And what, WHAT THE HELL, does “expanding the scope of legal education” even mean? People don’t need more legal education, they need more legal jobs. Do you have any plan at all to help them get those jobs? You’re the dean of a major, respected law school, could you at least pretend to give a s**t about the students who are placing their money and their careers in your hands?

Honestly, I don’t know how people like Dean Berman can sleep at night. I’m serious, a decent man should literally have trouble resting peacefully when he promises hundreds of people something that he can’t provide. Doesn’t he get it? His students can’t find work on his watch — even if it’s not his fault (and it’s not his fault), he should feel bad/sorrowful/ashamed… something. Some people who showed up to ASU expecting to help their career will graduate having done nothing but hurt their financial portfolio. Can’t he at least sympathize, instead of greedily trying to figure out how to charge more people more money in the same terrible job market? Every day, every minute of every day, he should be saying “how is what I’m doing right now going to help my kids get jobs?”

Instead he’s saying an entirely meaningless platitude: “We’re expanding the scope of legal education.” Unbelievable.

Law students were not invented to help cover budget gaps. I know that’s how many law school deans and university presidents view them, but law student are not there to be revenue enhancements. Law students are there because they want to be practicing attorneys — and right now law schools are doing a terrible job of helping students achieve their goals.

Guys like Dean Berman can’t lose sight of their function, their duty to the people who show up on campus. And if they can’t even remember why anybody would pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to school in the first place, they need to get out of the way and let somebody else give it a shot.

Arizona law school striving for financial self-reliance [National Law Journal]

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