2018: Full-Time Private Law-School Tuition Up 3.1 Percent

Despite arbitrary data meddling by the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar and significant misreporting by law schools, I will estimate changes in annual (as in what people care about and what the ABA no longer collects) full-time law-school tuition for 2018. The appendix at the end of the post will summarize how I arrived at my tuition figures. However, I’m still disgusted by how the law schools and the ABA have handled this year’s data collection. On with the show:

Full-time tuition costs at private law schools not in Puerto Rico rose an average 3.1 percent before adjusting for inflation. The rate is about the same as last year’s increase, but it’s still well below the typical 5 percent rate before the Great Recession. For seven years now, the average increase has been below 4 percent. I focus on private law-school tuition because public law schools receive varying degrees of state subsidies, so they do not reflect the already distorted legal-education market’s prices.

Here’s what the inflation-adjusted dispersion of full-time private and full-time public (residential) tuition looks like going back to 1996:

For the last few years I’ve been eyeballing the 25th-percentile public law school’s residential tuition to see if it will rise above the annual Stafford Loan limit of $20,500. In 2018 it fell not even $200 shy of that symbolic line of unaffordability. By my estimates, 16 out of 117 private law schools charge more than $60,000. Ever the leader, Columbia was $84 short of charging $70,000. Next year it will likely have raised its costs by $20,000 in ten years.

In 2018, the median private law school charged $48,166 (DePaul); the mean was $48,383 (between John Marshall (Chicago) and Vermont).

Costs grew more at the high and low ends among private law schools. Separating them into quintiles, here are the increases at the mean of each quintile.

From 2014-16, the tuition increases were stacked towards the high end, which was consistent with the prediction that the cheaper law schools were so fiscally crunched that they couldn’t afford to raise their costs any more. 2017 and 2018 have broken that trend. Perhaps private law schools are more confident thanks to the Trump bump.

The following private law schools raised their tuition charges by more than 5 percent:

  • Brooklyn* (18.8%)
  • Appalachian (12.0%)
  • Santa Clara (10.9%)
  • Capital (6.0%)
  • Roger Williams (5.7%)
  • Gonzaga (5.0%)

In charity, here are the two private law schools that cut their full-time tuition:

  • WMU Cooley* (-1.1%)
  • Florida Coastal (-0.2%)

Six private law schools kept their costs flat from last year: Thomas Jefferson, Western State, Concordia, John Marshall (Chicago), Valparaiso*, Mississippi College, and Tulsa.

Thirteen public law schools cut their nominal residential tuition:

  • Akron (-6.5%)
  • Hawaii (-3.2%)
  • Florida A&M (-3.2%)
  • Minnesota (-2.8%)
  • Florida (-2.2%)
  • Florida International (-1.8%)
  • Louisville (-0.9%)
  • Cleveland State (-0.5%)
  • Colorado (-0.3%)
  • California-Los Angeles (-0.1%)
  • California-Irvine (-0.1%)
  • California-Davis (-0.1%)
  • California-Berkeley (-0.1%)

And nine kept their costs flat: Arizona, Arkansas (Little Rock), California-Hastings, Georgia State, Maine, Cincinnati, Oklahoma, Texas Southern, and Wyoming.

* 2018-19 tuition based on information from law school’s Web site

Editorial: 2018 is similar to prior years in that average nominal tuition went up but not by as much as a decade ago. The dispersion of increases is about the same as well. More interestingly, nominal tuition cuts have largely disappeared. This pushes against the predictions and observations that reality was catching up with law schools. I hesitate to attribute this to the Trump bump, but it may be responsible.

Information on this topic from prior years:

********************

Appendix:

2018 is a mess for tuition estimates; it’s very discouraging. Here are a few notes on the numbers appearing in the post:

  • Because Valparaiso held classes, its tuition was included.
  • Arizona Summit by contrast was not because it ceased classes, even though it miraculously submitted its 509 information to the ABA.
  • I doubled tuition amounts for law schools that clearly submitted semester tuition rather than annual numbers. There are a couple of outliers: I multiplied Chicago by three and Elon by 1.5 to arrive at numbers that look similar to 2017.
  • For law schools that irresponsibly declined to provide the ABA with tuition numbers, I looked at their Web sites and the Wayback Machine to try to reconstruct their methodologies for calculating what they would’ve submitted to the ABA last year had they done so.
  • I will compare these numbers to what S. News publishes to see if it comes up with anything better.
STATE SCHOOL TYPE 2017 2018 PUBLISHED 2018 ESTIMATED % CHANGE
Alabama Alabama Public Res. $23,720 $11,960 $23,920 0.8%
Alabama Faulkner Private $38,000 $19,592 $39,184 3.1%
Alabama Samford Private $38,448 $20,075 $40,150 4.4%
Arizona Arizona Public Res. $25,826 $25,826 $25,826 0.0%
Arizona Arizona State Public Res. $27,388 $27,584 $27,584 0.7%
Arizona Arizona Summit [Phoenix] $45,284 $0 N/A N/A
Arkansas Arkansas (Fayetteville) Public Res. $16,117 $0 $16,188 0.4%
Arkansas Arkansas (Little Rock) Public Res. $15,732 $0 $15,732 0.0%
California California Western Private $50,670 $52,470 $52,470 3.6%
California California-Berkeley Public Res. $49,364 $49,325 $49,325 -0.1%
California California-Davis Public Res. $47,763 $23,861 $47,722 -0.1%
California California-Hastings Public Res. $44,326 $44,326 $44,326 0.0%
California California-Irvine Public Res. $45,155 $45,099 $45,099 -0.1%
California California-Los Angeles Public Res. $45,657 $22,800 $45,600 -0.1%
California Chapman Private $52,086 $53,124 $53,124 2.0%
California Golden Gate Private $48,500 $25,000 $50,000 3.1%
California La Verne Private $30,024 $15,604 $31,208 3.9%
California Loyola (CA) Private $55,110 $28,615 $57,230 3.8%
California Pacific, McGeorge Private $49,720 $25,656 $51,312 3.2%
California Pepperdine Private $54,260 $27,915 $55,830 2.9%
California San Diego Private $52,571 $54,280 $54,280 3.3%
California San Francisco Private $49,130 $24,910 $49,820 1.4%
California Santa Clara Private $48,916 $0 $54,240 10.9%
California Southern California Private $62,711 $64,908 $64,908 3.5%
California Southwestern Private $51,890 $54,166 $54,166 4.4%
California Stanford Private $60,270 $0 $62,382 3.5%
California Thomas Jefferson Private $49,500 $49,500 $49,500 0.0%
California Western State Private $43,350 $21,675 $43,350 0.0%
California Whittier Private $44,370 $0 $44,870 1.1%
Colorado Colorado Public Res. $31,989 $31,898 $31,898 -0.3%
Colorado Denver Private $49,022 $25,471 $50,942 3.9%
Connecticut Connecticut Public Res. $29,410 $15,169 $30,338 3.2%
Connecticut Quinnipiac Private $48,805 $49,540 $49,540 1.5%
Connecticut Yale Private $62,170 $64,267 $64,267 3.4%
Delaware Widener (Delaware) Private $48,920 $60 $50,676 3.6%
District of Columbia American Private $54,832 $28,362 $56,724 3.5%
District of Columbia Catholic Private $49,800 $25,780 $51,560 3.5%
District of Columbia District of Columbia Public Res. $12,516 $12,838 $12,838 2.6%
District of Columbia George Washington Private $58,520 $30,395 $60,790 3.9%
District of Columbia Georgetown Private $59,850 $62,244 $62,244 4.0%
District of Columbia Howard Private $33,630 $17,097 $34,194 1.7%
Florida Ave Maria Private $41,706 $21,103 $42,206 1.2%
Florida Barry Private $35,845 $18,715 $37,430 4.4%
Florida Florida Public Res. $22,299 $21,803 $21,803 -2.2%
Florida Florida A&M Public Res. $14,132 $6,838 $13,676 -3.2%
Florida Florida Coastal Private $46,171 $46,068 $46,068 -0.2%
Florida Florida International Public Res. $21,806 $0 $21,407 -1.8%
Florida Florida State Public Res. $20,683 $10,347 $20,694 0.1%
Florida Miami Private $50,578 $26,195 $52,390 3.6%
Florida Nova Southeastern Private $39,830 $41,200 $41,200 3.4%
Florida St. Thomas (FL) Private $40,282 $21,095 $42,190 4.7%
Florida Stetson Private $42,646 $43,880 $43,880 2.9%
Georgia Atlanta’s John Marshall Private $42,628 $21,993 $43,986 3.2%
Georgia Emory Private $55,336 $28,674 $57,348 3.6%
Georgia Georgia Public Res. $19,696 $9,854 $19,708 0.1%
Georgia Georgia State Public Res. $17,050 $8,525 $17,050 0.0%
Georgia Mercer Private $37,962 $38,716 $38,716 2.0%
Hawaii Hawaii Public Res. $23,142 $11,196 $22,392 -3.2%
Idaho Concordia Private $30,343 $0 $30,343 0.0%
Idaho Idaho Public Res. $19,748 $10,493 $20,986 6.3%
Illinois Chicago Private $62,865 $21,766 $65,298 3.9%
Illinois Chicago-Kent, IIT Private $46,822 $23,822 $47,644 1.8%
Illinois DePaul Private $47,230 $24,083 $48,166 2.0%
Illinois Illinois Public Res. $38,098 $19,059 $38,118 0.1%
Illinois John Marshall (Chicago) Private $48,600 $275 $48,600 0.0%
Illinois Loyola (IL) Private $48,406 $24,481 $48,962 1.1%
Illinois Northern Illinois Public Res. $22,178 $11,090 $22,180 0.0%
Illinois Northwestern Private $62,084 $32,201 $64,402 3.7%
Illinois Southern Illinois Public Res. $21,754 $11,282 $22,564 3.7%
Indiana Indiana (Bloomington) Public Res. $34,073 $17,794 $35,588 4.4%
Indiana Indiana (Indianapolis) Public Res. $28,631 $547 $29,198 2.0%
Indiana Notre Dame Private $56,292 $58,358 $58,358 3.7%
Indiana Valparaiso Private $41,522 $0 $41,522 0.0%
Iowa Drake Private $40,612 $41,512 $41,512 2.2%
Iowa Iowa Public Res. $26,456 $13,671 $27,342 3.3%
Kansas Kansas Public Res. $21,996 $0 $22,562 2.6%
Kansas Washburn Public Res. $21,588 $35 $22,359 3.6%
Kentucky Kentucky Public Res. $23,783 $12,023 $24,046 1.1%
Kentucky Louisville Public Res. $21,392 $10,598 $21,196 -0.9%
Kentucky Northern Kentucky Public Res. $19,370 $10,166 $20,332 5.0%
Louisiana Louisiana State Public Res. $23,083 $23,660 $23,660 2.5%
Louisiana Loyola (LA) Private $44,330 $22,290 $44,580 0.6%
Louisiana Southern University Public Res. $15,802 $16,490 $16,490 4.4%
Louisiana Tulane Private $54,568 $28,286 $56,572 3.7%
Maine Maine Public Res. $23,640 $11,820 $23,640 0.0%
Maryland Baltimore Public Res. $31,084 $15,977 $31,954 2.8%
Maryland Maryland Public Res. $32,492 $33,651 $33,651 3.6%
Massachusetts Boston College Private $52,850 $27,375 $54,750 3.6%
Massachusetts Boston University Private $53,236 $27,538 $55,076 3.5%
Massachusetts Harvard Private $62,792 $32,489 $64,978 3.5%
Massachusetts Massachusetts — Dartmouth Public Res. $27,291 $14,263 $28,526 4.5%
Massachusetts New England Private $47,992 $24,744 $49,488 3.1%
Massachusetts Northeastern Private $49,224 $25,350 $50,700 3.0%
Massachusetts Suffolk Private $46,932 $24,045 $48,090 2.5%
Massachusetts Western New England Private $40,954 $42,218 $42,218 3.1%
Michigan Detroit Mercy Private $42,140 $22,110 $44,220 4.9%
Michigan Michigan Public Res. $57,262 $29,881 $59,762 4.4%
Michigan Michigan State Private $43,400 $22,100 $44,200 1.8%
Michigan Wayne State Public Res. $31,956 $16,441 $32,882 2.9%
Michigan WMU Cooley Private $51,370 $0 $50,790 -1.1%
Minnesota Minnesota Public Res. $44,066 $21,420 $42,840 -2.8%
Minnesota Mitchell|Hamline Private $42,816 $21,730 $43,460 1.5%
Minnesota St. Thomas (MN) Private $40,247 $20,721 $41,442 3.0%
Mississippi Mississippi Public Res. $15,882 $8,275 $16,550 4.2%
Mississippi Mississippi College Private $35,500 $35,510 $35,510 0.0%
Missouri Missouri (Columbia) Public Res. $21,407 $894 $21,837 2.0%
Missouri Missouri (Kansas City) Public Res. $19,040 $0 $19,701 3.5%
Missouri St. Louis Private $41,025 $21,077 $42,154 2.8%
Missouri Washington University Private $55,423 $57,445 $57,445 3.6%
Montana Montana Public Res. $12,562 $13,177 $13,177 4.9%
Nebraska Creighton Private $38,744 $20,048 $40,096 3.5%
Nebraska Nebraska Public Res. $15,645 $0 $16,083 2.8%
Nevada Nevada Public Res. $26,973 $13,511 $27,022 0.2%
New Hampshire New Hampshire Public Res. $37,401 $18,703 $37,406 0.0%
New Jersey Rutgers Public Res. $27,492 $14,179 $28,358 3.2%
New Jersey Seton Hall Private $53,046 $54,090 $54,090 2.0%
New Mexico New Mexico Public Res. $17,147 $8,699 $17,398 1.5%
New York Albany Private $46,072 $23,725 $47,450 3.0%
New York Brooklyn Private $50,706 $0 $60,236 18.8%
New York Cardozo, Yeshiva Private $58,764 $29,970 $59,940 2.0%
New York City University Public Res. $15,113 $7,782 $15,564 3.0%
New York Columbia Private $67,564 $69,916 $69,916 3.5%
New York Cornell Private $63,327 $65,541 $65,541 3.5%
New York Fordham Private $58,196 $30,203 $60,406 3.8%
New York Hofstra Private $57,510 $29,607 $59,214 3.0%
New York New York Law School Private $50,718 $51,732 $51,732 2.0%
New York New York University Private $63,986 $66,422 $66,422 3.8%
New York Pace Private $47,210 $48,614 $48,614 3.0%
New York St. John’s Private $57,480 $29,740 $59,480 3.5%
New York SUNY Buffalo Public Res. $28,016 $28,075 $28,075 0.2%
New York Syracuse Private $49,966 $25,711 $51,422 2.9%
New York Touro Private $48,830 $24,900 $49,800 2.0%
North Carolina Campbell Private $39,900 $20,565 $41,130 3.1%
North Carolina Duke Private $62,247 $32,361 $64,722 4.0%
North Carolina Elon Private $36,667 $22,275 $38,000 3.6%
North Carolina North Carolina Public Res. $23,889 $12,086 $24,172 1.2%
North Carolina North Carolina Central Public Res. $18,533 $9,369 $18,738 1.1%
North Carolina Wake Forest Private $45,110 $22,680 $45,360 0.6%
North Dakota North Dakota Public Res. $12,232 $13,023 $13,023 6.5%
Ohio Akron Public Res. $24,214 $11,323 $22,646 -6.5%
Ohio Capital Private $36,112 $19,145 $38,290 6.0%
Ohio Case Western Reserve Private $50,666 $26,035 $52,070 2.8%
Ohio Cincinnati Public Res. $24,010 $12,005 $24,010 0.0%
Ohio Cleveland State Public Res. $27,360 $13,605 $27,210 -0.5%
Ohio Dayton Private $33,739 $209 $34,580 2.5%
Ohio Ohio Northern Private $28,010 $14,580 $29,160 4.1%
Ohio Ohio State Public Res. $30,264 $15,424 $30,848 1.9%
Ohio Toledo Public Res. $20,004 $10,948 $21,896 9.5%
Oklahoma Oklahoma Public Res. $20,903 $0 $20,903 0.0%
Oklahoma Oklahoma City Private $35,340 $17,815 $35,630 0.8%
Oklahoma Tulsa Private $25,254 $12,627 $25,254 0.0%
Oregon Lewis and Clark Private $45,020 $23,185 $46,370 3.0%
Oregon Oregon Public Res. $33,922 $17,709 $35,418 4.4%
Oregon Willamette Private $42,680 $22,190 $44,380 4.0%
Pennsylvania Drexel Private $44,340 $0 $45,270 2.1%
Pennsylvania Duquesne Private $42,844 $22,472 $44,944 4.9%
Pennsylvania Penn State (Dickinson Law) Public Res. $48,686 $25,291 $50,582 3.9%
Pennsylvania Penn State (Penn State Law) Public Res. $49,070 $25,492 $50,984 3.9%
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Private $63,364 $32,902 $65,804 3.9%
Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Public Res. $34,008 $34,834 $34,834 2.4%
Pennsylvania Temple Public Res. $26,103 $27,103 $27,103 3.8%
Pennsylvania Villanova Private $45,195 $23,268 $46,536 3.0%
Pennsylvania Widener (Commonwealth) Private $44,548 $60 $45,750 2.7%
Puerto Rico Inter American Private $16,603 $16,645 $16,645 0.3%
Puerto Rico Pontifical Catholic Private $16,418 $7,869 $7,869 -52.1%
Puerto Rico Puerto Rico Public Res. $7,383 $7,852 $7,852 6.4%
Rhode Island Roger Williams Private $34,833 $36,815 $36,815 5.7%
South Carolina Charleston Private $41,548 $21,067 $42,134 1.4%
South Carolina South Carolina Public Res. $28,858 $14,804 $29,608 2.6%
South Dakota South Dakota Public Res. $15,668 $8,472 $16,944 8.1%
Tennessee Belmont Private $43,480 $22,235 $44,470 2.3%
Tennessee Lincoln Memorial Private $35,340 $18,420 $36,840 4.2%
Tennessee Memphis Public Res. $19,197 $9,599 $19,198 0.0%
Tennessee Tennessee Public Res. $19,638 $9,837 $19,674 0.2%
Tennessee Vanderbilt Private $55,083 $57,558 $57,558 4.5%
Texas Baylor Private $60,050 $20,807 $62,421 3.9%
Texas Houston Public Res. $31,021 $0 $32,093 3.5%
Texas North Texas-Dallas Public Res. $8,748 $9,107 $9,107 4.1%
Texas South Texas-Houston Private $31,500 $16,200 $32,400 2.9%
Texas Southern Methodist Private $52,586 $27,047 $54,094 2.9%
Texas St. Mary’s Private $36,310 $18,705 $37,410 3.0%
Texas Texas Public Res. $35,015 $17,857 $35,714 2.0%
Texas Texas A&M [Wesleyan] Public Res. $28,504 $15,500 $31,000 8.8%
Texas Texas Southern Public Res. $20,418 $10,209 $20,418 0.0%
Texas Texas Tech Public Res. $22,996 $13,420 $26,840 16.7%
Utah Brigham Young Private $25,360 $13,060 $26,120 3.0%
Utah Utah Public Res. $26,641 $14,177 $28,354 6.4%
Vermont Vermont Private $47,998 $24,127 $48,254 0.5%
Virginia Appalachian Private $31,700 $17,750 $35,500 12.0%
Virginia George Mason Public Res. $25,351 $12,677 $25,354 0.0%
Virginia Liberty Private $35,782 $36,862 $36,862 3.0%
Virginia Regent Private $36,140 $18,310 $36,620 1.3%
Virginia Richmond Private $43,000 $44,700 $44,700 4.0%
Virginia Virginia Public Res. $58,300 $60,700 $60,700 4.1%
Virginia Washington and Lee Private $48,375 $24,678 $49,356 2.0%
Virginia William and Mary Public Res. $32,964 $17,000 $34,000 3.1%
Washington Gonzaga Private $38,715 $40,665 $40,665 5.0%
Washington Seattle Private $45,054 $23,293 $46,586 3.4%
Washington Washington Public Res. $34,311 $35,988 $35,988 4.9%
West Virginia West Virginia Public Res. $22,878 $12,042 $24,084 5.3%
Wisconsin Marquette Private $44,830 $23,085 $46,170 3.0%
Wisconsin Wisconsin Public Res. $22,496 $11,759 $23,518 4.5%
Wyoming Wyoming Public Res. $16,350 $16,350 $16,350 0.0%

Fin.

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