U.S. law schools are bucking the trend of supply and demand 101, as average tuition this fall will climb by more than double the rate of inflation, even though applicants to these schools have declined significantly during the past 2 years, according to Law.com.
Tuition Increase Similar in Public and Private Law Schools
These increases have been occurring at similar rates in both private and public law schools since 2003 (See Law.com article for graphs charting the increase in tuition since 2003).
The charts compiled, pursuant to a a tuition survey published by The National Law Journal, indicate that the average private law school tuition has increased from $25,574 in 2003 to $40, 585 in 2012 (a 4% spike this year alone), while public school tuition has increased from $10,819 to $23,590 over the very same period of time.
Meanwhile, inflation is currently about 1.7 percent.
The number of applicants nationally has declined 25% during the past 2 years, leading some law schools to reduce the size of their incoming 1L classes. Factors that have contributed to this decline in applicants include an over-saturated legal market and the possibility of facing insurmountable debt.
Why Are Law Schools Increasing Tuition When Demand Is Down?
Brian Tamanaha, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis School of Law and the author of the book Failing Law Schools, is surprised, to say the least, that schools have continued raise the price of tuition as demand has decreased. "Why aren't law schools announcing a decrease in their list price? That's what you do when demand goes down. We're playing by the old rules, and the old rules say that tuition goes up every year," he said.
"I'm not shocked by the numbers, but I'm horrified," said Ohio State University Michael E. Moritz College of Law professor Deborah Jones Merritt, who also blogs on University of Colorado law professor Paul Campos' blog Inside the Law School Scam. "It's professionally irresponsible. Law schools have a responsibility to our students and their futures, which includes not raising prices as much as we can."
I have had first hand experience with these spikes in tuition, as I am a 3L student at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles.
During the years that I have spent at Loyola I have seen my tuition, which was $40,000+ in 2010-2011 jump to $42,000+ last year and again raise to greater than $44,000 this year (somewhere in the range of a 4-5% increase per year).
This leaves only one question for current and incoming law students: When are these tuition increases going to level off?
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