2018: ABA Publishes Hot Tuition Garbage Instead of Usable Numbers [UPDATED]

It’s been two weeks since the ABA released its 509 information reports and accompanying spreadsheets. Lazy as I am I didn’t get to the tuition figures until last night, when to my astonishment I found that the tuition data were an excrementitious string of Arabic numerals. Seriously, the ABA has been doing this for five years, and while one or two law schools always fail to report their costs (because it’s, so, so hard to do the same thing once a year) I’ve never seen it publish numbers that were so clearly wrong.

I count seventeen law schools without any tuition numbers. I can understand why Valparaiso and Arizona Summit wouldn’t bother supplying them, but the rest is inexcusable. Even Stanford is on the list of shame.

The next seven reported bizarre three-digit numbers. A year of law school costs $35 at Washburn in Kansans. I have no idea where that came from, but a few public schools (Indiana-Indianapolis, Missouri-Columbia) look like they supplied their costs per credit hour rather than their annual charges.

Then I count 128 (!!) law schools that appeared to supply either semester or trimester tuition costs. There all off by 40-67 percent, clustering at 50 percent.

So more than half of the ABA law schools either supplied bad numbers to the ABA, which didn’t QC any of them, or the ABA messed up. Wow. RIP data transparency.

[Update: Per a reader comment, it appears in the 509 information reports themselves, the ABA now tracks tuition by semester, which will necessitate annualizing the numbers manually. Yes, I’d looked at these but didn’t see that change. However, instead of 128 law schools incorrectly sending semester numbers, that leaves 51 that misreported annual tuition instead of semester tuition. So while 128 law schools appeared to have reported correct numbers, 73 (less Arizona Summit and Valparaiso) did not. The ABA should still do a better job of QCing the data and ensuring law schools are completing forms correctly. I’ll try to come up with a new post that fixes all this.]

Here’s my table of proof:

STATE SCHOOL TYPE 2017 2018 % CHANGE
Arizona Arizona Summit Private $45,284 $0 -100.0%
Arkansas University of Arkansas Public Res. $16,117 $0 -100.0%
Arkansas University of Arkansas (Little Rock) Public Res. $15,732 $0 -100.0%
California Santa Clara University Private $48,916 $0 -100.0%
California Stanford Private $60,270 $0 -100.0%
California Whittier Law School Private $44,370 $0 -100.0%
Florida Florida International University Public Res. $21,806 $0 -100.0%
Idaho Concordia University School of Law Private $30,343 $0 -100.0%
Indiana Valparaiso University Private $41,522 $0 -100.0%
Kansas University of Kansas Public Res. $21,996 $0 -100.0%
Michigan Cooley Private $51,370 $0 -100.0%
Missouri University of Missouri (Kansas City) Public Res. $19,040 $0 -100.0%
Nebraska University of Nebraska Public Res. $15,645 $0 -100.0%
New York Brooklyn Private $50,706 $0 -100.0%
Oklahoma University of Oklahoma Public Res. $20,903 $0 -100.0%
Pennsylvania Drexel University Private $44,340 $0 -100.0%
Texas University of Houston Public Res. $31,021 $0 -100.0%
Delaware Widener University (Delaware) Private $48,920 $60 -99.9%
Pennsylvania Widener University (Commonwealth) Private $44,548 $60 -99.9%
Kansas Washburn University Public Res. $21,588 $35 -99.8%
Illinois John Marshall (Chicago) Private $48,600 $275 -99.4%
Ohio University of Dayton Private $33,739 $209 -99.4%
Indiana Indiana Unversity (Indianapolis) Public Res. $28,631 $547 -98.1%
Missouri University of Missouri (Columbia) Public Res. $21,407 $894 -95.8%
Illinois University of Chicago Private $62,865 $21,766 -65.4%
Texas Baylor University Private $60,050 $20,807 -65.4%
Ohio University of Akron Public Res. $24,214 $11,323 -53.2%
Puerto Rico Pontifical Catholic University of PR Private $16,418 $7,869 -52.1%
Hawaii University of Hawaii Public Res. $23,142 $11,196 -51.6%
Florida Florida A&M University Public Res. $14,132 $6,838 -51.6%
Minnesota University of Minnesota Public Res. $44,066 $21,420 -51.4%
Kentucky University of Louisville Public Res. $21,392 $10,598 -50.5%
Ohio Cleveland State University Public Res. $27,360 $13,605 -50.3%
California UC Los Angeles Public Res. $45,657 $22,800 -50.1%
California UC Davis Public Res. $47,763 $23,861 -50.0%
California Western State College Private $43,350 $21,675 -50.0%
Georgia Georgia State University Public Res. $17,050 $8,525 -50.0%
Maine University of Maine Public Res. $23,640 $11,820 -50.0%
Ohio University of Cincinnati Public Res. $24,010 $12,005 -50.0%
Oklahoma University of Tulsa Private $25,254 $12,627 -50.0%
Texas Texas Southern University Public Res. $20,418 $10,209 -50.0%
Tennessee University of Memphis Public Res. $19,197 $9,599 -50.0%
Illinois Northern Illinois University Public Res. $22,178 $11,090 -50.0%
Virginia George Mason University Public Res. $25,351 $12,677 -50.0%
New Hampshire University of New Hampshire Public Res. $37,401 $18,703 -50.0%
Illinois University of Illinois Public Res. $38,098 $19,059 -50.0%
Florida Florida State University Public Res. $20,683 $10,347 -50.0%
Georgia University of Georgia Public Res. $19,696 $9,854 -50.0%
Nevada University of Nevada Public Res. $26,973 $13,511 -49.9%
Tennessee University of Tennessee Public Res. $19,638 $9,837 -49.9%
Vermont Vermont Law School Private $47,998 $24,127 -49.7%
North Carolina Wake Forest University Private $45,110 $22,680 -49.7%
Louisiana Loyola University New Orleans Private $44,330 $22,290 -49.7%
Oklahoma Oklahoma City University Private $35,340 $17,815 -49.6%
Alabama Univeristy of Alabama Public Res. $23,720 $11,960 -49.6%
Kentucky University of Kentucky Public Res. $23,783 $12,023 -49.4%
North Carolina North Carolina Central University Public Res. $18,533 $9,369 -49.4%
Illinois Loyola University Chicago Private $48,406 $24,481 -49.4%
North Carolina University of North Carolina Public Res. $23,889 $12,086 -49.4%
Florida Ave Maria Private $41,706 $21,103 -49.4%
Virginia Regent University Private $36,140 $18,310 -49.3%
California University of San Francisco Private $49,130 $24,910 -49.3%
South Carolina Charleston Law School Private $41,548 $21,067 -49.3%
New Mexico University of New Mexico Public Res. $17,147 $8,699 -49.3%
Minnesota Mitchell|Hamline Private $42,816 $21,730 -49.2%
District of Columbia Howard University Private $33,630 $17,097 -49.2%
Illinois Illinois Institute of Technology Private $46,822 $23,822 -49.1%
Michigan Michigan State University Private $43,400 $22,100 -49.1%
Ohio Ohio State Universtity Public Res. $30,264 $15,424 -49.0%
Illinois DePaul University Private $47,230 $24,083 -49.0%
New York Touro College Private $48,830 $24,900 -49.0%
Texas University of Texas Public Res. $35,015 $17,857 -49.0%
New York Cardozo Private $58,764 $29,970 -49.0%
Virginia Washington and Lee University Private $48,375 $24,678 -49.0%
Tennessee Belmont University Private $43,480 $22,235 -48.9%
Massachusetts Suffolk University Private $46,932 $24,045 -48.8%
South Carolina University of South Carolina Public Res. $28,858 $14,804 -48.7%
Missouri Saint Louis University Private $41,025 $21,077 -48.6%
Ohio Case Western Reserve University Private $50,666 $26,035 -48.6%
Maryland University of Baltimore Public Res. $31,084 $15,977 -48.6%
Texas South Texas-Houston Private $31,500 $16,200 -48.6%
Texas Southern Methodist University Private $52,586 $27,047 -48.6%
California Pepperdine University Private $54,260 $27,915 -48.6%
Michigan Wayne State University Public Res. $31,956 $16,441 -48.6%
New York Syracuse University Private $49,966 $25,711 -48.5%
New York Hofstra University Private $57,510 $29,607 -48.5%
Pennsylvania Villanova University Private $45,195 $23,268 -48.5%
Minnesota University of St. Thomas Private $40,247 $20,721 -48.5%
New York City University of New York Public Res. $15,113 $7,782 -48.5%
Wisconsin Marquette University Private $44,830 $23,085 -48.5%
New York Albany Law School Private $46,072 $23,725 -48.5%
Utah Brigham Young University Private $25,360 $18,506 -48.5%
Massachusetts Northeastern University Private $49,224 $25,350 -48.5%
Oregon Lewis & Clark College Private $45,020 $23,185 -48.5%
Texas St. Mary’s University Private $36,310 $18,705 -48.5%
North Carolina Campbell University Private $39,900 $20,565 -48.5%
California Golden Gate University Private $48,500 $25,000 -48.5%
Alabama Faulkner University Private $38,000 $19,592 -48.4%
Massachusetts New England Law | Boston Private $47,992 $24,744 -48.4%
Virginia College of William & Mary Public Res. $32,964 $17,000 -48.4%
New Jersey Rutgers University Public Res. $27,492 $14,179 -48.4%
Connecticut University of Connecticut Public Res. $29,410 $15,169 -48.4%
Georgia John Marshall (Atlanta) Private $42,628 $21,993 -48.4%
California University of the Pacific Private $49,720 $25,656 -48.4%
Iowa University of Iowa Public Res. $26,456 $13,671 -48.3%
Washington Seattle University Private $45,054 $23,293 -48.3%
District of Columbia American University Private $54,832 $28,362 -48.3%
Massachusetts Boston University Private $53,236 $27,538 -48.3%
New York St. John’s University Private $57,480 $29,740 -48.3%
Massachusetts Harvard Private $62,792 $32,489 -48.3%
Nebraska Creighton University Private $38,744 $20,048 -48.3%
District of Columbia Catholic University of America Private $49,800 $25,780 -48.2%
Florida University of Miami Private $50,578 $26,195 -48.2%
Massachusetts Boston College Private $52,850 $27,375 -48.2%
Georgia Emory University Private $55,336 $28,674 -48.2%
Louisiana Tulane University Private $54,568 $28,286 -48.2%
Illinois Southern Illinois University Public Res. $21,754 $11,282 -48.1%
Illinois Northwestern University Private $62,084 $32,201 -48.1%
New York Fordham University Private $58,196 $30,203 -48.1%
California Loyola Law School Private $55,110 $28,615 -48.1%
Pennsylvania University of Pennsylvania Private $63,364 $32,902 -48.1%
District of Columbia George Washington University Private $58,520 $30,395 -48.1%
Pennsylvania Penn State University (Dickinson) Public Res. $48,686 $25,291 -48.1%
Pennsylvania Penn State University (Penn State Law) Public Res. $49,070 $25,492 -48.0%
Colorado University of Denver Private $49,022 $25,471 -48.0%
California University of La Verne Private $30,024 $15,604 -48.0%
North Carolina Duke University Private $62,247 $32,361 -48.0%
Oregon Willamette University Private $42,680 $22,190 -48.0%
Ohio Ohio Northern University Private $28,010 $14,580 -47.9%
Mississippi University of Mississippi Public Res. $15,882 $8,275 -47.9%
Tennessee Lincoln Memorial University Private $35,340 $18,420 -47.9%
Michigan University of Michigan Public Res. $57,262 $29,881 -47.8%
Oregon University of Oregon Public Res. $33,922 $17,709 -47.8%
Florida Barry University Private $35,845 $18,715 -47.8%
Alabama Samford University Private $38,448 $20,075 -47.8%
Indiana Indiana University (Bloomington) Public Res. $34,073 $17,794 -47.8%
Massachusetts Massachusetts-Dartmouth Public Res. $27,291 $14,263 -47.7%
Wisconsin University of Wisconsin Public Res. $22,496 $11,759 -47.7%
Florida St. Thomas University Private $40,282 $21,095 -47.6%
Pennsylvania Duquesne University Private $42,844 $22,472 -47.5%
Michigan University of Detroit Private $42,140 $22,110 -47.5%
Kentucky Northern Kentucky University Public Res. $19,370 $10,166 -47.5%
West Virginia West Virginia University Public Res. $22,878 $12,042 -47.4%
Ohio Capital University Private $36,112 $19,145 -47.0%
Idaho University of Idaho Public Res. $19,748 $10,493 -46.9%
Utah University of Utah Public Res. $26,641 $14,177 -46.8%
South Dakota University of South Dakota Public Res. $15,668 $8,472 -45.9%
Texas Texas A&M University Public Res. $28,504 $15,500 -45.6%
Ohio University of Toledo Public Res. $20,004 $10,948 -45.3%
Virginia Appalachian Private $31,700 $17,750 -44.0%
Texas Texas Tech University Public Res. $22,996 $13,420 -41.6%
North Carolina Elon University Private $36,667 $22,275 -39.3%
Florida University of Florida Public Res. $22,299 $21,803 -2.2%
Colorado University of Colorado Public Res. $31,989 $31,898 -0.3%
Florida Florida Coastal Private $46,171 $46,068 -0.2%
California UC Irvine Public Res. $45,155 $45,099 -0.1%
California UC Berkeley Public Res. $49,364 $49,325 -0.1%
Arizona Univeristy of Arizona Public Res. $25,826 $25,826 0.0%
California UC Hastings Public Res. $44,326 $44,326 0.0%
California Thomas Jefferson Private $49,500 $49,500 0.0%
Wyoming University of Wyoming Public Res. $16,350 $16,350 0.0%
Mississippi Mississippi College Private $35,500 $35,510 0.0%
New York SUNY Buffalo Public Res. $28,016 $28,075 0.2%
Puerto Rico Interamerican University of PR Private $16,603 $16,645 0.3%
Arizona Arizona State University Public Res. $27,388 $27,584 0.7%
Connecticut Quinnipiac University Private $48,805 $49,540 1.5%
New Jersey Seton Hall University Private $53,046 $54,090 2.0%
Georgia Mercer University Private $37,962 $38,716 2.0%
California Chapman University Private $52,086 $53,124 2.0%
New York New York Law School Private $50,718 $51,732 2.0%
Iowa Drake University Private $40,612 $41,512 2.2%
Pennsylvania University of Pittsburgh Public Res. $34,008 $34,834 2.4%
Louisiana Louisiana State University Public Res. $23,083 $23,660 2.5%
District of Columbia University of D.C. Public Res. $12,516 $12,838 2.6%
Florida Stetson University Private $42,646 $43,880 2.9%
New York Pace University Private $47,210 $48,614 3.0%
Virginia Liberty University Private $35,782 $36,862 3.0%
Massachusetts Western New England University Private $40,954 $42,218 3.1%
California University of San Diego Private $52,571 $54,280 3.3%
Connecticut Yale Private $62,170 $64,267 3.4%
Florida Nova Southeastern University Private $39,830 $41,200 3.4%
New York Columbia University Private $67,564 $69,916 3.5%
New York Cornell Private $63,327 $65,541 3.5%
California University of Southern California Private $62,711 $64,908 3.5%
California California Western Private $50,670 $52,470 3.6%
Maryland University of Maryland Public Res. $32,492 $33,651 3.6%
Missouri Washington University Private $55,423 $57,445 3.6%
Indiana Notre Dame Private $56,292 $58,358 3.7%
New York New York University Private $63,986 $66,422 3.8%
Pennsylvania Temple University Public Res. $26,103 $27,103 3.8%
Virginia University of Richmond Private $43,000 $44,700 4.0%
District of Columbia Georgetown Private $59,850 $62,244 4.0%
Texas North Texas-Dallas Public Res. $8,748 $9,107 4.1%
Virginia University of Virginia Public Res. $58,300 $60,700 4.1%
Louisiana Southern University Law Center Public Res. $15,802 $16,490 4.4%
California Southwestern University Private $51,890 $54,166 4.4%
Tennessee Vanderbilt University Private $55,083 $57,558 4.5%
Washington University of Washington Public Res. $34,311 $35,988 4.9%
Montana University of Montana Public Res. $12,562 $13,177 4.9%
Washington Gonzaga University Private $38,715 $40,665 5.0%
Rhode Island Roger Williams University Private $34,833 $36,815 5.7%
Puerto Rico University of Puerto Rico Public Res. $7,383 $7,852 6.4%
North Dakota University of North Dakota Public Res. $12,232 $13,023 6.5%

Ugh. Disgusting. Makes me feel bad for the schools that clearly did everything right, like they’re supposed to each year. [Commented retracted for meanness. Apologies to the 128 law schools that correctly reported semester tuition, raspberries to the rest and the ABA for not ensuring consistency.]

Information on this topic from prior years:

3 comments

  1. Hi. The 2018 individual school 509 reports note that the amounts are “per semester” or “per credit hour,” while the 2017 509 reports do not. I think those 128 schools you referred to actually answered the ABA annual questionnaire correctly, and the ones reporting full annual tuition did not. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    1. You know, I’d looked at one of them and didn’t see that, but you’re right. Still doesn’t explain the discrepancies and is a mess. I’ll update the post accordingly.

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