[Readers and researchers have used the tuition projections in the past, and rather than overwrite them with new ones, this page archives them.]
When it comes to law school tuition increases the first question is: does inflation-adjusted tuition increase at a linear or exponential rate? Looking at the ABA’s tuition data going back to the 1985-1986 school year, it appears linear.
You get the same effect from using the ABA-LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools.
Hopefully people won’t refer to legal education tuition increases as exponential, for they are not. The increases at public law schools is heavily influenced by state governments withdrawing subsidies. Thus, the best way to measure tuition increases on account of competition is to look private law school tuition growth. Indeed, a few public law schools (Michigan, Virginia, Arizona State, the California schools, and Minnesota as of this date) are off or going off the dole, yet even if we exclude them and the three law schools in Puerto Rico, “real” mean private law school tuition increases at about the same rate.
Why law school costs more than before shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out: legal education isn’t a free market service. It’s heavily subsidized by the federal government, allowing law schools to charge whatever their competitors are charging. Hopefully I’m right in the long run, or things will get far worse: taxpayers will be left with the tab of subsidizing income-based repayment plans for law students whose degrees were overpriced relative to their labor market value. Those ineligible for IBR will require debt relief at some kind.
As a result, we can calculate law school tuition going into the future. These charts project private law school tuition five and ten years from the last years in which data are available. They are based on linear regression of the law schools’ individual tuitions from the school year ending in 2005, courtesy of the Official Guide. My methodology assumes that a law school’s tuition will increase largely as it has in the past. Note, the Official Guide and the ABA generally define school years as the year of the fall semester, so “2004″ refers to the 2004-2005 school year, in their calendar. In the past I included both years or referred to a school year as the year including the spring semester, so “2005″ in the previous example. I am adapting to the ABA’s convention.
The methodology I use has its drawbacks, particularly for law schools that increased their tuition rapidly between the 2004-2005 and 2010-2011 school years. Faulkner University is by far the greatest culprit because it received ABA accreditation in 2006. Since then its tuition doubled. Another anomaly is Vermont Law School, whose tuition rose an unusually high 22% in the 2008-2009 school year. Conversely, the law schools at the bottom of the list, Pontifical Catholic, Brigham Young (LDS), and Inter American do not increase their tuition as rapidly as most private law schools. These projections are not adjusted for inflation.
This table is sorted by the 2020-2021 school year.
|#||NAME||TUITION: 2010-2011||TUITION: 2015-2016||TUITION: 2020-2021|
|6.||New England (MA)||39,990||55,875||71,816|
|9.||Seton Hall (NJ)||45,058||58,402||71,224|
|16.||Southern California (CA)||48,434||58,890||69,258|
|17.||St. John’s (NY)||44,280||56,837||69,023|
|21.||New York University (NY)||48,213||57,763||67,420|
|25.||Washington and Lee (VA)||39,937||52,621||64,703|
|29.||Loyola Marymount (CA)||41,840||52,806||63,314|
|30.||New York Law School (NY)||46,460||54,756||62,874|
|31.||Washington University (MO)||44,125||53,251||62,458|
|35.||Roger Williams (RI)||38,010||49,400||60,584|
|41.||California Western (CA)||40,780||50,357||60,239|
|43.||Case Western (OH)||40,560||50,308||59,904|
|45.||San Diego (CA)||41,414||50,561||59,050|
|46.||Notre Dame (IN)||40,805||49,951||58,830|
|47.||Golden Gate (CA)||38,375||48,712||58,674|
|48.||New Hampshire (NH)||37,000||48,171||58,666|
|51.||Pacific, McGeorge (CA)||39,989||49,238||58,304|
|53.||Thomas Jefferson (CA)||38,700||47,889||57,603|
|54.||La Verne (CA, no longer ABA)||38,462||47,927||57,554|
|55.||University of St. Thomas (MN)||36,313||46,689||57,086|
|56.||Wake Forest (NC)||37,230||47,391||57,068|
|57.||Boston College (MA)||40,905||49,132||57,056|
|59.||Boston University (MA)||40,838||48,945||56,684|
|60.||SMU Dedman (TX)||40,186||48,067||56,542|
|63.||San Francisco (CA)||38,800||47,176||55,433|
|65.||John Marshall (IL)||36,920||46,180||55,300|
|70.||Santa Clara (CA)||39,360||46,847||54,186|
|72.||Western New England (MA)||36,854||45,377||53,655|
|73.||Florida Coastal (FL)||34,712||44,046||53,485|
|75.||George Washington (DC)||43,999||53,515||53,040|
|77.||Western State (CA)||35,190||43,868||52,802|
|78.||Michigan State (MI)||34,045||43,816||52,772|
|79.||Atlanta’s John Marshall (GA)||32,965||42,606||51,838|
|80.||Ave Maria (FL)||36,448||44,276||51,805|
|82.||Loyola-New Orleans (LA)||36,196||42,930||50,352|
|84.||Oklahoma City (OK)||33,925||41,917||49,991|
|87.||Saint Louis (MO)||35,475||42,797||49,806|
|89.||Lewis & Clark (OR)||35,098||41,770||49,494|
|92.||William Mitchell (MN)||33,800||41,599||49,384|
|93.||Earle Mack, Drexel (PA)||34,450||41,834||49,234|
|95.||Detroit Mercy (MI)||34,010||40,977||48,454|
|101.||Nova Southeastern (FL)||32,607||40,421||47,726|
|102.||St. Thomas (FL)||33,082||40,096||47,314|
|105.||Mississippi College (MS)||28,070||37,104||45,969|
|107.||Thomas M. Cooley (MI)||30,644||37,096||44,101|
|108.||Ohio Northern (OH)||31,264||37,323||44,057|
|110.||St. Mary’s (TX)||28,160||35,931||42,865|
|115.||Texas Wesleyan (TX)||27,440||34,070||40,806|
|116.||Brigham Young (UT, Non-LDS)||20,560||30,373||39,107|
|117.||South Texas (TX)||26,340||32,524||38,235|
|118.||Pontifical Catholic (PR)||14,126||15,363||16,564|
|119.||Brigham Young (UT, LDS)||10,280||13,087||15,812|
|120.||Inter American (PR)||14,341||14,566||15,407|
For some time the University of Michigan and the University of Virginia have operated independently of state subsidies. As a bonus, I’ve projected their tuitions as well, but UVA’s regression begins in the first year in which its resident tuition was higher than the average private law school tuition (2006-2007). In the 2010-2011 school year, California’s public law schools all charged more than the average private law school. Soon Arizona State University and the University of Minnesota will join them.
|#||NAME||RESIDENT TUITION: 2010-2011||RESIDENT TUITION: 2015-2016||RESIDENT TUITION: 2020-2021|
|1.||University of Michigan||44,600||58,693||71,619|
|2.||University of Virginia||42,500||55,614||69,239|