Full-Time Private Law School Tuition Projections for 2017, 2022

It’s the season for the LSTB’s perennial full-time private law school tuition projections. This is the third year I’ve made such projections, and I always try to improve the methodology to produce accurate and precise forecasts. 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)—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.

You can read about my test of the methodologies here.

As always, I exclude the two private law schools in Puerto Rico and Brigham Young’s tuition for LDS students. Unlike last year, though, I will not try to make projections for public-in-name-only law schools because there aren’t enough data to make reasonably accurate predictions. [Mini-update: The projections are in current dollars.]

Like last year, the “relative variance” column on the far right of the projections table is the percent difference between the law schools’ projected costs for 2012 (based on their 1999-2011 prices) and what they actually charged in 2012. The point is to provide an indicator for distinguishing between outliers and reasonably accurate projections. In 2012, the average private law school raised its price by less than in previous years, suggesting that going forward, costs will plateau. Here’s a chart of the distribution of tuition increases over the years.

Dispersal of Full-Time Private Law School Tuition Price IncreasesDispersal of Full-Time Private Law School Tuition Price Increases (Zoomed In)

Analysis of the Official Guide data also shows that the percent of full-time students paying full freight has dropped considerably in the last decade:

Percent Full-Time Law Students Paying Full Tuition

It might be the case that the real tuition today are less for the median student than a few years ago, but it’s still important for people to know that law schools will continue to depend on students who pay full freight. Because it’s harder for them to choose to drop out, 2Ls and 3Ls are especially likely to be asked to shoulder higher costs as their scholarships are rescinded.

The Official Guide data can be found on the LSTB data page, which I’ve updated to include the 1999-2000/2003-2004 academic years and inflation-adjusted tuition instead of percent increases. Okay, here are the projections. Enjoy.

# SCHOOL TUITION: 2012-2013 TUITION: 2017-2018 TUITION: 2022-2023 RELATIVE VARIANCE
1. Cornell Law School (NY) 55,301 66,744 78,188 0.4%
2. Columbia University (NY) 55,488 65,840 76,191 -1.0%
3. Yale Law School (CT) 53,600 63,850 74,100 2.0%
4. Northwestern University (IL) 53,468 63,706 73,943 1.0%
5. University of Pennsylvania (PA) 53,138 63,164 73,190 -0.8%
6. University of Southern California (CA) 52,598 62,616 72,633 0.0%
7. Baylor University (TX) 46,420 59,295 72,169 -0.6%
8. Duke University (NC) 51,662 61,492 71,323 -0.2%
9. Harvard Law School (MA) 50,880 60,560 70,241 -0.3%
10. Yeshiva University (NY) 50,046 59,984 69,923 0.7%
11. Brooklyn Law School (NY) 50,001 59,949 69,898 0.9%
12. Stanford Law School (CA) 50,802 60,204 69,605 0.5%
13. Seton Hall University (NJ) 48,170 58,730 69,290 1.8%
14. New York Law School (NY) 49,225 59,208 69,192 1.3%
15. New York University (NY) 51,150 59,860 68,569 2.0%
16. University of Chicago (IL) 50,727 59,629 68,531 -2.5%
17. Fordham University (NY) 49,526 58,946 68,365 0.8%
18. St. John’s University (NY) 48,070 58,097 68,124 0.9%
19. Quinnipiac University (CT) 47,076 56,876 66,677 -0.2%
20. Georgetown University (DC) 48,835 57,732 66,628 -0.4%
21. Hofstra University (NY) 47,660 57,050 66,440 -0.4%
22. Washington University (MO) 47,490 56,417 65,344 0.8%
23. Vermont Law School (VT) 45,732 55,523 65,314 0.5%
24. George Washington University (DC) 47,535 55,958 64,381 -0.2%
25. American University (DC) 46,794 55,526 64,259 0.1%
26. Faulkner University (AL) 33,360 48,660 63,960 6.8%
27. Notre Dame (IN) 45,980 54,947 63,913 -2.0%
28. Vanderbilt University (TN) 46,804 55,349 63,894 2.4%
29. Washington and Lee University (VA) 43,462 53,189 62,917 1.1%
30. Syracuse University (NY) 45,690 54,165 62,639 3.9%
31. Case Western Reserve University (OH) 44,620 53,574 62,528 -0.6%
32. Drexel University (PA) 40,270 51,245 62,220 -6.7%
33. Phoenix School of Law (AZ) 39,533 50,426 61,319 1.3%
34. Southern Methodist University (TX) 44,017 52,659 61,301 -0.6%
35. Emory University (GA) 45,098 53,185 61,273 3.9%
36. Pepperdine University (CA) 44,980 53,103 61,226 -1.2%
37. Suffolk University (MA) 44,064 52,616 61,167 0.8%
38. California Western (CA) 43,700 52,281 60,862 1.8%
39. Loyola Marymount (CA) 44,230 52,476 60,722 1.2%
40. Southwestern University (CA) 43,850 52,219 60,588 0.1%
41. University of San Diego (CA) 43,860 52,218 60,575 1.0%
42. DePaul University (IL) 43,220 51,828 60,435 0.5%
43. Chapman University (CA) 43,536 51,954 60,371 0.1%
44. Santa Clara University (CA) 43,680 52,018 60,357 -0.6%
45. Charlotte School of Law (NC) 38,606 49,404 60,201 1.6%
46. New England Law | Boston (MA) 40,984 50,555 60,126 5.1%
47. Union University (NY) 42,675 51,348 60,021 2.3%
48. University of New Hampshire (NH) 41,190 50,455 59,721 1.7%
49. Touro College (NY) 42,930 51,299 59,668 1.6%
50. Boston University (MA) 44,168 51,890 59,613 0.1%
51. University of the Pacific (CA) 43,045 51,257 59,469 0.0%
52. Thomas Jefferson School of Law (CA) 42,000 50,423 58,846 1.8%
53. Tulane University (LA) 43,684 51,144 58,604 3.7%
54. Loyola University New Orleans (LA) 41,448 49,893 58,337 -3.9%
55. University of Miami (FL) 42,938 50,591 58,244 -3.9%
56. Boston College (MA) 43,511 50,806 58,100 -0.6%
57. Golden Gate University (CA) 42,010 50,045 58,079 0.3%
58. Northeastern University (MA) 43,048 50,559 58,070 1.9%
59. University of San Francisco (CA) 42,364 50,060 57,756 -0.7%
60. Illinois Institute of Technology (IL) 42,030 49,813 57,595 4.0%
61. University of La Verne (CA) 40,732 49,000 57,269 4.9%
62. Catholic University of America (DC) 43,245 50,227 57,209 0.4%
63. Pace University (NY) 42,198 49,590 56,981 0.7%
64. Roger Williams University (RI) 40,930 48,922 56,915 0.6%
65. University of St. Thomas (MN) 39,244 47,895 56,546 -7.5%
66. University of Denver (CO) 39,840 48,163 56,486 0.9%
67. Seattle University (WA) 39,884 47,865 55,846 2.7%
68. Florida Coastal (FL) 39,370 47,458 55,547 -2.2%
69. John Marshall (Chicago) (IL) 39,884 47,655 55,426 -0.4%
70. Western New England College (MA) 39,574 47,160 54,746 0.5%
71. Valparaiso University (IN) 38,852 46,704 54,555 2.2%
72. Whittier Law School (CA) 40,260 47,308 54,357 0.8%
73. John Marshall (Atlanta) (GA) 36,183 45,207 54,230 1.4%
74. University of Detroit Mercy (MI) 38,180 46,168 54,157 -1.5%
75. Loyola University Chicago (IL) 40,582 47,340 54,099 0.7%
76. Western State University (CA) 39,600 46,777 53,954 -2.4%
77. Elon University (NC) 36,100 44,975 53,850 0.8%
78. Marquette University (WI) 38,690 46,225 53,759 1.1%
79. Villanova University (PA) 38,910 46,152 53,395 0.9%
80. Charleston Law School (SC) 37,874 45,536 53,197 1.4%
81. Wake Forest University (NC) 39,190 46,090 52,990 2.6%
82. Lewis & Clark College (OR) 38,180 45,488 52,795 -0.9%
83. Widener University (DE) 38,250 45,442 52,635 -1.0%
84. Widener University (Harrisburg) (PA) 38,250 45,442 52,635 -1.0%
85. Thams M. Cooley Law School (MI) 37,140 44,746 52,352 -3.7%
86. Ave Maria School of Law (FL) 37,270 44,780 52,290 2.0%
87. Mercer University (GA) 37,260 44,187 51,114 2.9%
88. Hamline University (MN) 36,396 43,666 50,937 -1.2%
89. Michigan State University (MI) 35,377 42,888 50,399 6.0%
90. Duquesne University (PA) 35,354 42,635 49,916 -0.4%
91. University of Richmond (VA) 36,850 43,354 49,858 -0.4%
92. William Mitchell College of Law (MN) 36,020 42,905 49,789 3.2%
93. Saint Louis University (MO) 36,885 43,329 49,773 1.7%
94. Samford University (AL) 36,216 42,847 49,478 -0.1%
95. Campbell University (NC) 35,340 42,111 48,882 -0.2%
96. Drake University (IA) 35,282 42,071 48,860 0.3%
97. Regent University (VA) 34,405 41,536 48,667 -0.6%
98. Oklahoma City University (OK) 34,290 41,267 48,245 8.1%
99. Stetson University (FL) 36,168 42,194 48,220 1.5%
100. Gonzaga University (WA) 35,460 41,625 47,791 -0.4%
101. St. Thomas University (FL) 36,226 41,794 47,361 -1.5%
102. Willamette University (OR) 34,690 40,963 47,236 -2.8%
103. Capital University (OH) 33,263 39,911 46,558 2.4%
104. Howard University (DC) 31,640 38,892 46,144 -3.6%
105. Creighton University (NE) 33,490 39,788 46,087 0.9%
106. Barry University (FL) 34,300 40,120 45,940 1.6%
107. Appalachian School of Law (VA) 31,525 38,491 45,457 -1.1%
108. Nova Southeastern University (FL) 34,330 39,853 45,376 0.1%
109. Liberty University (VA) 32,002 38,600 45,197 -0.3%
110. Ohio Northern University (OH) 33,684 39,316 44,949 0.6%
111. University of Dayton (OH) 33,630 38,901 44,172 -3.1%
112. University of Tulsa (OK) 31,836 37,516 43,197 4.6%
113. Texas Wesleyan University (TX) 30,580 36,588 42,595 -2.1%
114. St. Mary’s University (TX) 30,566 36,122 41,678 -0.2%
115. Mississippi College (MS) 29,450 35,478 41,505 3.3%
116. South Texas College of Law (TX) 27,600 32,008 36,415 0.5%
117. Brigham Young University (UT) 21,900 27,238 32,577 1.8%
MEDIAN 40,930 49,813 57,756 0.5%
MEAN AVERAGE 41,132 49,240 57,349 0.5%
AVG DEVIATION 5,131 6,019 7,116 1.6%

Peace.

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9 Responses

  1. Third Tier Drake charged roughly $26,000 per year when I started in 2006. It’s sickening to see how these trash pits – public, private, for-profit and “non-profit” – are only concerned with making a financial killing.

    Keep up the great work, Matt.

    • Exactly. Tuition has doubled in less than ten years when looking at 2005 levels. Each year in Matt’s charts, the average increase is, at a minimum, twice the level of inflation.

      Who wouldn’t love a rate of return like that out in the actual, you know, “free market?” But why compete and assume risk, when you can just run a rent-seeking cartel and charge whatever you goddamn well please?

      It’s good to be the king. Leave the peasant work to the peasants.

  2. I keep thinking the value of a law degree will go up because tuition keeps going higher, but, instead, the value of low degree keeps going lower.

  3. […] Leichter has crunched a bunch more numbers at Law School Tuition Bubble, and is projecting what private law school tuition will be four and nine years from now. […]

  4. As someone with an insider’s perspective, I can say with confidence that the only direction our tuition is likely to go in the next five years is down (I can’t reliably prognosticate beyond five years). Demand for law school has fallen, so prices will fall as well–at least at schools that recognize how market forces work. While I appreciate the impressive level of work that Matt has done here, there is reason to believe that demand for law school during the five year window he considers will be much lower than during historic periods. Indeed, demand for law school has taken a considerably larger hit than demand for even legal services!

    • Anonymous, there have been applicant drops in the past without corresponding nominal tuition reductions. In fact, in 2012 mean and median private law school tuition increased more than in 2011 [adjusted for inflation] even though there were fewer applicants. Maybe it’s the calm before the storm, but I analyzed law school price downward-stickiness in my last Am Law Daily article.

      I don’t doubt that the median law student at many schools pays less now than in previous years due to tuition-scholarship transfers, but that requires tuition increases. As I’ve stated in the past the core of every law school’s enrollment pool consists of students who will take out the maximum amount of unsubsidized Stafford loans ($20,500) and as much in Grad PLUS loans as the law school can charge. The workings of the student loan system have a significant effect on law school tuition; nationalizing graduate student lending via the Grad PLUS Loan Program and IBR essentially pre-bailed out law schools that would’ve seized up due to private lenders refusing to lend to their students.

      Make no mistake: I won’t at all be surprised if my projections come out high in five years (or even two years for my 2015 projections), but I won’t believe substantial nominal tuition reductions until I see it.

  5. […] Law School Tuition Bubble, Above The […]

  6. […] 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 […]

  7. There has to be some recalculations to this “bubble” list because some schools are actually lowering their tuition significantly. Roger Williams Law School lowered its 2014 tuition from 41,400 to 33,792 -(18%) in an announcement last January. The $33,792 is guaranteed for the three years of student’s attendance. This is not an endorsement to attend law school and the tuition “adjustment” reflects a marketing move to “hold the line” on attendance for R.W.U. Still, it’s “gutsy” and I hope many more law schools emulate this move. Let the bubble burst!

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