Law School Gives Away Free Money to Non-Students (More 509 Errata)

Today’s raspberry goes to Duquesne which reports that 117 percent of its full-time students received a grant.

Free Money at Duquesne

My hunch is that there were only 231 full-time students who received less-than-half-tuition grants last year rather than 331. The typo then compounded within the table since so many of the information reports’ numbers are just calculations and not hand-entered data themselves.

Other notables are Texas A&M (formerly Wesleyan), which amped up its scholarships to the extent that only 6 percent of its students are paying full tuition, way down from 57 percent two years ago. New Hampshire’s final year as a private law school also saw a large reduction in full-time students paying full tuition: 21 percent to 8 percent.

Otherwise, the 2013-14 academic year saw another precipitous drop in the percentage of full-time law students paying full tuition.

Percent Full-Time Law Students Paying Full Tuition

Perhaps this year only one-third of the enrollment at a typical law school is paying full freight. Like, maybe I should consider moving the blog to a more descriptive title.

Moving on to the topic of private law school tuition, which is easier to research because most of the time it’s not possible to distinguish resident from nonresident students at public law schools, we can see the plummeting reliance on full-tuition students—as well as revenue from that source.

Mean No. Full-Time Private Law School Students by Grant Received

Aggregate Revenue From Full-Time Private Law School Students Paying Full-Tuition

(These charts exclude Brigham Young because like most public law schools, we can’t know how many students are paying discounted LDS tuition.)

In all, private legal education lost nearly $450 million in annual full tuition revenue since 2011. It now makes less than in 2002. We keep hearing about how resilient law schools are to closing, but when I see this stuff I think that this just can’t go on forever.

Finally, for those curious about the dispersions of students receiving the median grant and how much that’s worth, I’ve come up with a new way of displaying that information: full-tuition quintiles. It occurred to me that simply showing median discounted tuition isn’t useful because an expensive law school can give a large discount while a cheap law school can discount by very little to get to roughly the same price tag. By treating full tuition as the independent variable (and because law schools tend to stay within the same full-tuition quintiles), I can give you a much better idea of how much the median discount is worth. The following charts use the intra-quintile mean average to give a broad picture of what’s going on.

Percent Private Law School Students Receiving Median Grant by Full Tuition Quintile Mean

Full-Time Private Law School Tuition and Median Discounted Tuition by Tuition Quintile Mean

Interestingly, a lot of the action in recent years appears to be within the third and fourth quintiles, which charge the same median discounted tuition to the same percentage of students—but schools in the fourth quintile are able to charge higher full tuition. Perhaps this is where competition over students is fiercest. In general, though, median discounted tuition in all quintiles ranges between 59 and 65 percent of full tuition. Back in 2002, the range was 82 to 91 percent.

If you’re curious what quintile a law school belonged in last year, just look at the tuition data page and compare to this table:

QUINTILE MINIMUM TUITION MAXIMUM TUITION
1 $22,560 $36,662
2 $36,994 $40,486
3 $40,890 $44,465
4 $44,520 $48,190
5 $48,730 $57,838

I believe this will be my last analysis of the information reports because I’ve covered all the topics I usually write on. Happy MLK Jr. Day, Americans.

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