Despite calls for change from the highest of authorities, law school tuition is still too damn high. In fact, for most recent law school graduates (myself included), it’s financially crippling.
Sure, class sizes have gotten smaller — whether due to law schools’ attempts to rightsize or due to lack of interest from prospective students — but tuition hasn’t. Some schools have managed to keep it flat (albeit at too high of a level), but others have had the nerve to dramatically increase tuition in these trying times for legal education.
Given how resistant the old and gray occupants of the ivory tower are to change, perhaps some frightening predictions about the future of law school tuition will help them open their eyes. If you think you’re hurting for students to fill the seats now, just wait until it costs $78,000 a year to attend…
Matt Leichter over at The Law School Tuition Bubble recently projected private law school tuition costs for the years 2017 and 2022. Before we get to the scary figures, let’s check out Leichter’s methodology:
The biggest changes this year are a large increase in source data—last year I scoured the Web for older copies of the ABA-LSAC Official Guide to the ABA Law Schools (Official Guide) [dating back to 1999 instead of 2004]—and I’ve improved the projections methodology.
In previous years, I forecasted future costs via linear regression based on law schools’ previous prices. I chose this model because it offered the lowest average costs, but it proved woefully imprecise. This year, I’ve changed to using law schools’ average annual (numeric) growth rates because it is both more accurate and precise than the linear regression methodology [used last year].
What is this “linear regression” that you speak of? A term like that is too hard for most lawyers to swallow, but this chart speak for itself. Here are the 10 most costly law schools ranked by projected 2022 tuition:
Wow. Even with a change in methodology, Cornell is still the worst offender on this list. We think we know what this school’s graduates will be doing in a decade to pay off their debts (see, e.g., Cammy Knight).
Further down the list, we see a couple of ridiculous performances from schools like Seton Hall (at $69,290 a head, professors won’t need to worry); New York Law School ($69,192 seems a bit high; it must be that second campus); and Faulkner (it’ll cost $63,960 a year to go a school we didn’t even know existed).
As we noted last year, these projections are for the cost of tuition alone, not counting student expenses. Because room and board, health insurance, books, and transportation costs are not included, depending on where a given school is located, future law students could be looking at a total cost of attendance at more than $100,000 per year. Sadly, if you’re willing to sign up for for a deal like that, you probably deserve everything you’ve got coming to you.
You can check out the entire list of projected tuition for private law schools here. If legal education will cost this much in just 10 years, we shudder to think how high it will be if your children want to follow in your footsteps. For the love of God, don’t let them set themselves up for financial ruin.
Full-Time Private Law School Tuition Projections for 2017, 2022 [The Law School Tuition Bubble]
What Will Law School Tuition Be in 2022 — $78,000? [TaxProf Blog]