Law Schools, Student Loans

Time To Pay More For The Same Education: It’s Tuition Hike Season

Law school leaders only care about the Benjamins.

Now comes the time when law schools tell students that the 2012-2013 academic year will cost more than the 2011-2012 academic year, even though the schools will be providing no additional professional help to struggling graduates.

Some law schools will blame it on state budget cuts to education. Other schools will blame it on weak fundraising. Still others will give you a song and dance about how the increases are necessary to hire top professorial talent, and then there will be some schools who offer the unsaid, “we’re doing it because we can and you’ll just borrow more money to pay us.”

We don’t track every tuition hike, because just about every law school raises tuition every year for one reason or another. But when a law school is brazen enough to raise tuition by a higher rate than other institutions at the university — and expects law students to be too stupid to notice how they’re getting taken advantage of — we tend to notice…

Last year, it was Stanford Law School pushing through a tuition hike for law students that was much larger than the increase experienced by the rest of the university.

This year, it appears that Notre Dame Law wants to be the standard bearer for milking the law school cash cow while protecting other institutions in the university system.

Notre Dame had previously raised law school tuition at the same rate as the undergraduate college. But starting with the 2011-2012 year, the school decided to start raising law school tuition by an extra $1,000 over the undergraduate increase. This year, ND Law sent a letter to try to “explain” this disparity.

I put the word explain in quotes because the words strung together in this memo don’t really rise to the level of a coherent explanation about anything. Here’s the memo:

Notice how none of this involves putting money into helping students find a job. But that’s supposed to be okay because I’m sure that the students are happy to pay an extra thousand dollars to “maintain the high value of a Notre Dame Law School education and degree for generations to come.”

Which of course is code for “we need to pay professors more money!!!!”

Look, there’s is no better evidence of how university administrators view their law schools than when we see a tuition hike like this. The job market is soft and salaries for young lawyers are stagnant, but the good people in charge of Notre Dame don’t care. Squeeze the law students and hope they are too docile to complain.

Just know that when a university president looks at a law student, all he or she sees are dollar signs.

Earlier: Stanford Law Dean Explains Why Stanford Law Deserves a Bigger Tuition Hike Than the Rest of the University

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