Law Schools, Money, Student Loans

How Much Will Law School Cost In The Future? It’s Pretty Scary…

In the past few months, those involved in legal academia have been going back and forth over whether the cost of law school tuition is “too damn high.” Many would argue that it is, considering the fact that even during the height of the recession, some law schools instituted across the board tuition hikes. Even now, when repeated calls have been made for reduced class sizes, law school tuition continues to rise to make up for the lost revenue those additional students would have provided.

This problem, they say, needs to be remedied immediately — before the law school tuition bubble pops — so that we can avoid additional problems down the line. Because after all, as my colleague Elie Mystal noted in 2010, “Law school tuition might be recession proof, but student debt repayment is not.”

If we continue on this way, we may be looking at some pretty scary numbers in the future….

Matt Leichter over at The Law School Tuition Bubble recently projected private law school tuition costs for the years 2016 and 2021. Before we get to the terrifying figures, let’s check out Leichter’s methodology:

Matt Leichter

[H]ow does one project law school tuition? I just extended the linear regression of each law school’s tuition based on its Official Guide entries going back to 2004. The basis is that past tuition increases are a predictor of future ones. … The only addition for this year is that I’m adding a column on the right side giving the “relative variance,” which is a measure of how (in)accurate the linear regression test was when comparing projected tuition to their 2011 outcomes. I think the lower the better, but anything below -3.0 percent or so is probably too low. The idea is to give readers a measure of how reliable the estimate is….

We know phrases like “linear regression” and “relative variance” are hard for most lawyers to digest, so we’ll allow this chart to speak for itself. Here are the ten most costly law schools ranked by projected 2021 tuition:

Wow. Not only does Cornell Law have the most porn filmed in its library, but its projected 2021 tuition basically assures that its graduates will be forced into the porn industry in about a decade. Aww, don’t worry, we’re sure these porn stars of the future will be counted as employed nine months after graduation.

And let’s not forget that these projections are for the costs of tuition alone — they don’t include additional expenses like room and board, books, personal expenses, and health insurance. Cornell currently estimates these costs at a little under $20,000. Not accounting for inflation, if you tack that on to nearly $80K in tuition, you’re looking at almost $100,000 to attend law school for only one year’s time. Absurd? Definitely.

(Also absurd is the fact that New England Law, one of the law schools with the most costly tuition in 2021, is unranked, but that’s neither here nor there. In the future, we imagine that no one will be interested in paying that much for a law degree when the legal jobs needed to pay off the associated debt have disappeared.)

You can check out the entire list of projected tuition for private law schools here. For the time being, can’t we all agree that no one in their right mind is willing to fork over six figures each year for a law degree? Financing five figures of tuition and fees each year with student loan debt is already bad enough.

Private Law School Tuition Projections for 2016, 2021 [The Law School Tuition Bubble]
Projected 2021 Law School Tuition: $80,000 [TaxProf Blog]

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