Minnesota Taxpayers to Reduce Subsidies to Law School Tuition Bubble

I'm proud of my home state, foolish though it is.

[Update]: Scammed Hard! reports the University of Minnesota’s instructors’ salaries via the Star Tribune.

This is how Adam Daniels should’ve titled his Minnesota Daily article instead of “After Cuts, Law School Eyes Future: A 50 percent cut in two years translates to increased tuition.”

In two years, the state will cut its payments to the law school by half, from 22% to 11%.  Tuition will increase by a whopping 13.5% to the U of M’s hapless students, an increase I’m guessing applies to both in-state ($28,203) and out-state tuition ($37,605).  If true, that’s $32,010.41 in-state and $42,681.68 out-state.  Also recall that Minnesota already increased tuition for 1Ls by 15.3% in the 2009-2010 school year.

The part that made yours truly squirm?

“The administration is doing a good job given the situation,” University senior attorney Carl Warren said. “Everybody recognizes it’s a difficult time and hard choices are being made … Sacrifices are necessary.”

Wait, who bears the burden?  Minnesota will cut faculty salaries by a mere 1.15%.  Recall that according to SALT’s 2009 faculty salary survey, U of M law professors make comfortable six-figure salaries, though they were far smaller according to the previous year’s survey.

“Hard choices” and “sacrifices” from students and federal taxpayers, inconvenience for law professors and administrators, relief to state taxpayers.

The other potential losers?  Alumni donors, especially former Vice President and noteworthy Minnesotan, Walter Mondale, who flushed $10 million of his own dollars into the tuition bubble.

After commenting on the law school’s hope to become financially self-sufficient, Daniels writes:

[Dean] Wippman said there are still uncertainties and tough decisions to come.  Still, students walked away feeling satisfied.

“I think it’s a pretty realistic perspective of how it’s going,” said first-year law student Elizabeth Graber.  “It’s not great, but it’s not terrible either.  I think, looking forward, he’s hopeful, and I think [students are] hopeful.”

Ms. Graber and her classmates shouldn’t be so hopeful.  True, if they fund their law degrees exclusively by federal loans and intend to use income-based repayment, then federal taxpayers take a hit.  Ms. Graber and her peers will then have to pay a monumental amount in income taxes on the forgiven loan balance in 25 years.  If they don’t elect IBR, or if they’ve taken private loans, they’ll be zombie debtors in an economy that doesn’t need more juris doctors.

Like Arizona State University, as public law schools are privatized or decoupled from state funding, expect them to raise tuition dramatically and to suffer the bubble’s wrath when it pops.


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