Tuition Increases

You can’t call it a trend just yet, but the University of New Hampshire School of Law has joined Maryland Law and Miami Law in the fight to keep law school tuition down during a still-recovering economy. The school reports it will not be raising tuition for the 2011-2012 academic year.

It’s a sad state of affairs when a law school holding the line on tuition is breaking news. But with nearly every other law school rushing to bilk students who will pay anything for a legal education (law schools at Stanford, Arizona State, and Minnesota spring to mind), it’s nice to see at least a couple of schools that regard their students as something more than profit centers.

Maryland announced its tuition freeze in December. The National Law Journal reports that Miami recently announced it would be maintaining a tuition freeze already in place. Now UNH Law is joining their ranks. There’s still plenty of room on this bandwagon if your law school would like to take a brief break from molesting your financial future.

Not that UNH Law is cheap, especially for a third-tier law school. But this tuition freeze is another indication that UNH is at least trying to think about legal education in a somewhat realistic way…

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I think we’ve all been waiting for this. Last Wednesday, we picked up a report from the Stanford Daily announcing that students at Stanford Law School would be looking at a 5.75% tuition hike for the 2011 – 2012 academic year. That’s significantly larger than the 3.5% tuition hike for the rest of the university.

Given that most Stanford Law students found out the school was jacking up tuition from the Stanford Daily or Above the Law, I’m not surprised to see a school-wide apology from Stanford Law Dean Larry Kramer. And given the fact that the best reason thus far given for Stanford’s tuition hike reduces to “because we can,” I’m also not surprised to see Dean Kramer working hard to spin the story differently.

Do you find him convincing? Read his email and tell us what you think…

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If Kanye West were here, he’d say: “The Stanford Board of Trustees doesn’t care about law students.”

Tuition is going up across the Stanford University system. That’s not surprising. We’ve said many times that tuition is “recession proof”; it just keeps going up, regardless of the job market for degree holders.

But Stanford is almost going out of its way to hurt its law students. While the rest of the university will endure a 3.5% tuition hike for the 2011-2012 academic year, Stanford Law School will receive a special 5.75% tuition hike. The law school currently charges $44,880 in tuition alone. Once you include books and other living expenses, the suggested budget for a Stanford Law student is $71,535 per year.

According to the school, that’s a bargain. The school should be charging way more. Why? “Because they can,” said one Stanford Law student we heard from.

When considering how much a Stanford J.D. should cost, the school admits that it’s not looking at the market value of a law degree — it’s simply looking at how much other schools charge for their degree programs, and making tuition decisions accordingly.

Yes, this is more evidence that the price of a law degree has become completely disassociated from the value of a law degree. But it’s also evidence that when the chips are down, Maryland Law cares a lot more about the future success of its students than Stanford…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Tuition at Stanford Law Goes Up Dramatically Because….”


Next month I’ll be appearing on a panel at the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools. The subject of the panel: how to get good press for your law school.

One obvious answer: do good things for your students. Just like the University of Maryland School of Law.

Our coverage of UMB hasn’t always been kind. See, e.g., discussion of former Dean Karen Rothenberg’s controversial pay packages (here and here).

This time, though, Maryland Law is doing the right thing. In a time of strained state budgets, it has succeeded in holding the line on tuition increases (which, as we’ve discussed, are running rampant throughout the law schools). UMB law students won’t see their tuition go up next year, academic year 2011-12, even though students in other schools at the university will.

How did Maryland manage this feat? Let’s take a look — which might prove instructive for other law schools….

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There’s been a lot of buzz coming out of Notre Dame Law. No, the students are not being being pressed into service to defend the university from Declan Sullivan lawsuits. Instead, ND Law dean Nell Newton held a town hall meeting with the students to discuss the future of the university.

After the public meeting, Dean Newton met with some students, and they got into a discussion about the future of tuition at the law school. Depending on whom you talk to (and we’ve now talked to a bunch of people), Dean Newton suggested during this private meeting that there would be either (1) a significant, “dear God, what are you doing” tuition increase at the private law school, or (2) a modest tuition hike. We’ll let you decide whom to believe.

But one thing is for sure: tuition is going up. Notre Dame will not be holding the line with tuition, so current and prospective law students should be prepared to pay more, despite the weakness in the legal economy…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Tuition Is Going Up at Notre Dame Law (But Not as High as Some Other Places)”

CORRECTION: This post has been revised since it was first published to reflect the fact that the 13.5% tuition hike for in-state students occurred this summer and applies to the current academic year (2010-2011).

Last year, the University of Minnesota contemplated imposing a significant tuition hike on its law students, while trying to keep college tuition low. This year, Minnesota did in fact push through the tuition increase, while protecting the high salaries of its law school faculty.

Paul Caron at Tax Prof Blog pointed us to a number of reports about how Minnesota hiked law school tuition by 13.5% for this academic year, while planning to cut faculty salaries by only 1.15% in the 2011 fiscal year. So Minnesota law students, if you were hoping for a dollop of Astroglide along with your next tuition bill, you have my sympathy. The administration at Minnesota Law doesn’t even have the common courtesy to give you a reach-around.

Law school administrators don’t care about you, current and prospective law students. They don’t even have to pretend to care about your problems anymore…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “13% Tuition Increase + 1% Faculty Salary Cut = 100% Screwing of Minnesota Law Students”

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!

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