5 Ways Speaker Ryan Might Change (Law School) Student Loans

Yes, not the Trump era—the Ryan era. Partly we should be clear about who’s really setting any agendas here, but it’s also to recognize that extraconstitutional President D. Trump might not finish his term. The way things have been going since the election, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s gone by the time you’re reading this.

Moreover, thus far Trump’s sole contribution to student-loan reform has been yet another income-sensitive repayment plan, which was one of the few ideas that he provided any details for during the campaign. As I understand it, his proposal limits the repayment period to 15 years rather than 20, which saves on the net amount debtors pay while increasing their monthly payments. I don’t know if that would require any action by Congress, so I’m sure Betsy DeVos is right on it.

More interesting is why Trump even looks like he cares about student debtors at all. According to the WSJ, for example, they’re the biggest moochers ever, requiring a projected bailout of $100 billion over some number of years. (Never mind that a week later the Defense Department admitted that it wastes $125 billion every five years. Debtors are moochers; the Pentagon, no.) Republicans hate moochers, Trump is a Republican, debtors are moochers; therefore Trump hates debtors. Q.E.D. Maybe Trump sympathizes (if that’s possible) with student debtors because of his frequent bankruptcy filings and probable debts to Vladimir Putin’s buddies. Hey, the syllogism still works if Trump or Republicans are moochers or debtors themselves.

Anyhow, I don’t see student debt on Trump’s agenda such as it is. As I understand it, presidents have a brief window early in their first terms to push their priorities through Congress before their popularity plummets. Trump was never popular, and his popularity is already plummeting, so if student loans were a low priority to begin with, they’ll fall off his list now. Consequently, I think he’ll sign any legislation so long as he can spin it to sound like a victory. This leaves the legislature as the only source of policy. Senate Majority Leader McConnell is too busy looking like a tortoise, so this all falls to the House, which means Ryan.

And Speaker Ryan likes policy. He’s not particularly good at it, but he sounds like he is, so there’s that. Here is where I Ryan might take Congress on student loans:

  1. Nowhere. Ryan and friends are already excited about (a) avoiding their constituents who want to keep their Obamacare, (b) avoiding their constituents who want them to investigate the president’s Russia ties, (c) passing tax cuts for people who don’t need them, (d) passing a budget that slashes all discretionary programs (i.e. “Mr. Rogers’ Privatized Neighborhood“), (e) privatizing Medicare/Medicaid/Social Security/national parks, and (f) dealing with even more blowback from all of the above. If Trump’s conflicts blossom into a constitutional crisis, then we’ll have more entertaining things to think about than student loans.
  2. Adopting fair-value accounting for government credit programs. This is one of Ryan’s few policy positions I agree with, and the Congressional Budget Office does too. (More info here.) There’s long been plenty of liberal opposition to it, but the Republicans might be able to flip the Democratic senators necessary to beat a filibuster. Changing the Federal Credit Reform Act is also sufficiently technical that it will not lead to grassroots mobilization of angry liberals who believe fair-value accounting threatens diversity.
  3. Passing the ExCEL Loan Act. I have no idea where it originally came from, but sometimes even Democrats offer this bill. Its point is that there are too many types of federal loans and too many repayment plans. The ExCEL Loan Act consolidates them, but it also eliminates loan forgiveness features that come with income-sensitive repayment plans.
  4. Capping or eliminating Grad PLUS loans. Supposedly, Ryan doesn’t like the program, and other representatives have grumbled about it, so law schools’ crutch might finally die. The only two reasons to think this might not come about are (a) the diversity crowd, and (b) the for-profit law schools that provide a very important public service—can Ryan resist the siren call of corporate welfare?
  5. Reforming or Eliminating the Department of Education. Maybe something like this could happen if the Democrats do badly in the 2018 midterms—many Senate seats are up—but it depends on how the next two years unfold. Similarly, it’s possible that Republicans will resurrect the guaranteed loan program. Ultimately, there’s a tension between honoring the Bennett hypothesis and giving government revenue to banks.

In the past I’ve said that (4) (Grad PLUS loans) is a likely option, but now I’m not so sure. Nobody expected the election to turn out as it did, but I thought unified Republican governance would be more focused. Yet one month in we have a party that’s stumped on repealing the health care law it’s hated for years and is nowhere near cutting taxes. It’s not implausible, then, that higher education reform is either lower on the agenda or won’t be as decisive as we’d hope.

Speaking of unified governance, a few weeks ago the ABA House of Delegates rejected the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar’s proposed bar-passage standard for law schools. As with all rulemaking or legislation the dispute isn’t fully resolved, but it’s noteworthy that the section committees that passed the standard are supposed to be the ones captured by student-loan dependent law schools and self-important law professors, while the House of Delegates is independent. Instead, the house is preaching diversity while the section passed a rule mandating accountability. Maybe the house is bad-copping the good-cop section, or the ABA’s politics have gone topsy-turvy as our Putin-loving government’s has.

In context, the bar-passage standard appeared to be the only viable idea out of the ABA that would shut down the most superfluous law schools. Given that the number of applicants is flat, and assuming policy is still gridlocked, it seems we’re in for more of the same for the next few years.

5 Ways the Rebel Alliance Can Win Back Working Class Whites

Or…

Last Gen X American Theater Review: Star Wars: Rogue One

And oh, my, spoilers!

I don’t mean to review only Star Wars movies, but here we are. The question Rogue One raises is: Is it better than Return of the Jedi? As I write this I can’t answer, but to be clear, Rogue One is certainly better than its immediate predecessor, The Force Awakens. At the risk of digressing, that film belonged more to the J.J. Abrams nostalgia subgenre, and its relevant comparators are 8mm or the Star Trek movies. I wasn’t a fan of those, nor the subgenre at all, really, but Force Awakens is Abrams’ best contribution to it thus far. Aside from its execution, it also may have done what was necessary to resuscitate Star Wars after the odious yet painfully quotable prequels.

Yet when I saw it, I thought The Force Awakens calcified the franchise. Star Wars would never amount to more than anxious Jedi, lightsaber fights, Death Star-ers, and sidestepping the ethical question of whether the galaxy would be better off if it summarily executed the entire Skywalker hero/war-criminal family. Take that, midichlorians!!

Rogue One, though, resists the decline. It’s the first contribution since Phantom Menace to feature a novel plot—and yes, all the prequels had plots, just the same one: Palpatine manipulates people to get what he wants. He just wasn’t the central character, which is one of many reasons those movies were so awful. None of this is to say that Rogue One‘s plot is remarkably different from the original’s: “A group of galactic outcasts combines to steal the Death Star’s plans and martyrs itself while doing so” isn’t far from the same crew rescuing the princess and blowing up the Death Star. Unfortunately, I struggle to give Rogue One a final assessment, so I’ll trudge through the bits I liked, didn’t like, or noticed.

Genre

In its third act, Rogue One becomes a heist movie. Unlike a good heist movie, however, it neglects the genre’s most memorable trope: the walkthrough montage. Just after the scene where the main characters case the target, your Ocean’s Elevenses of the world invariably contain a scene where the crack team of specialists learn the exact sequence of breaking into the target and stealing the MacGuffin. Usually the montage uses a model mixed with shots of the actual location.

The walkthrough montage performs a few narrative tasks. One, it sets up the audience’s expectations of how the heist will go with the tacit promise that the story will throw a wrench into the protagonists’ plans, forcing them to adapt. The heist characters’ (or at least their leaders’) stand-out qualities are not their thievery but their resilience or their ability to see n moves ahead of the antagonists. Without the walkthrough montage, the story can capriciously throw any obstacle it wants at the characters, and their success doesn’t feel earned. This is exactly what happens in Rogue One when Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor, and K-2SO enter the Imperial data storage center on Scarif. In typical Star Wars droid fashion K-2SO gives the odds of their success, but without a reference point, it doesn’t mean anything to the audience.

The absence of a walkthrough montage also, I suspect, relates to criticisms of the Star Wars universe’s data formats. Superficially, I’m less persuaded that it’s a problem: Star Wars straddles the digital revolution, so it’s saddled with a legacy of computer anachronisms. Asking for consistency in formats is like asking why the characters in Seinfeld don’t avoid all their follies with cell phones. I’m more impressed that Rogue One manages to be a Star Wars prequel without looking outdated in the ways the original subtly does. Thus, we’re left with a sequence where the characters make it to a weird-looking data tower without facing much resistance until later. It’s only after their claw crane busts that they must adapt—and that’s also when they start switching data formats.

Characters

Two, the walkthrough montage also summarizes the characters’ special skills, and while I liked the characters in Rogue One quite a bit, they weren’t all suited to breaking into secure Imperial installations. The movie could have done more to explain their motivations for participating in what appeared to be a suicide mission—since that was the point of the movie—similar to The Magnificent Seven. Instead, the final act of the movie devolves to action fare: Each character must perform some trivial mechanical task to complete the mission. One of them is even the Back to the Future cable-caught-on-a-stick gimmick. As with most Star Wars movies, multiple subplots converged at the ending, but they weren’t too interesting on their own until the characters died. It worked, but once I noticed the action gimmicks were happening, I felt a little bored.

Indeed, The Magnificent Seven comparison is apt because my favorite character was Donnie Yen’s Chirrut Îmwe, who was essentially Zatoichi in a Star Wars movie. On top of that, he did what I thought Disney was too timid to do: Broaden the Force beyond monotone Jedis and lightsaber fights. Îmwe devoutly believes in the Force, but he fights with … something other than a lightsaber. He doesn’t telekinetically chuck people around, and in his bespoke action sequence he must walk to a switch and pull it by hand. Wow! Îmwe lives in a Star Wars universe where doubting the Force is possible—a point I hammered in my review of the original. It’s not hard to believe in the Force when it makes you obviously superhuman.

Beyond Îmwe, I appreciated the cast’s diversity. Rogue One made it seem so normal that I didn’t really ponder it until after it ended. I was like, “Cassian has an accent. Eh. That’s Star Wars for you. At least he’s not another Imperial officer from Britain.” I also note that the other movie to address non-whiteness this winter was Hidden Figures, two films from very different genres. (I liked that one too, but I have nothing to say about it that others can’t better.)

Martyrdom, Not Marveldom

It’s said that Disney sees Star Wars as a money-maker like the Marvel-verse. The Marvel-verse, though, is pretty conventional, even if another 2016 movie, Dr. Strange, was tons of fun. The plots are driven by earth-hungry monsters and a bunch of ancient, supernatural MacGuffins. I don’t see it breaking its mold ever. Rogue One, by contrast, does. The Star Wars universe is sufficiently established to give us heroic characters and then kill them dead. These are the martyrs of the rebellion, we recite their names after Luke Skywalker gets his medal a short time later.

My hope is that Disney explores the Star Wars universe with more narrative experiments like Rogue One. I’m not asking for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Jedi, but Rogue One took risks that show there’s more to explore in Star Wars than lightsaber fights.

Other Good Stuff

Rogue One also delivers a few nuggets that don’t fit in the above. One is the Death Star. I liked how the movie subtly explained that its world-destroying weapon is essentially a bunch of lightsabers strung together. The Empire scientifically explores the faith of the Jedi, only to weaponize it. It’s a good parallel to the Oppenheimer-nuclear-bomb commentary the movie makes. I delighted to see Tarkin again, CGIed as he was, and voiced with appropriate rolling r’s. But boy do I wish they hired Wayne Pygram like in the prequels. What a waste. Tarkin’s line about not using the Death Star to make a manifesto is an excellent contrast to later blowing up Alderaan as “an effective demonstration.” Speaking of Alderaan, Jimmy Smits was similarly a welcome sight, even if it normalizes the prequels. “I must go to Alderaan (to get blown up).” (Hey, it’s not like he saw it coming.)

Other Not-So-Good Stuff

How big is the Star Wars galaxy? It’s like Jeddah, Eadu, Scarif, Yavin IV, Alderaan, and Tatooine, are all only several hours from one another. It’s a J.J. Abrams-ish flaw in a non-Abrams movie. A little down time for the characters helps extend the scope of the universe and make it more realistic. Secondly, the admiral in charge of the rebels was another Mon Calamari. Was this supposed to be a riff on Return of the Jedi, or are we really too stupid to follow a Star Wars space battle if it’s not exposited by an Admiral Akbar lookalike?

So Why Not Return of the Jedi?

As I wrote upfront, I’m weighing Rogue One against Return of the Jedi, which has until now kept its place as the third best Star Wars movie. Here’s a brief synopsis of why that movie deserves a bumping. One, Jedi‘s second Death Star is a cop out. Totally uninspired. Two, “A certain point of view?” shamelessly retcons the first movie’s insistence that Darth Vader killed Luke’s father to rationalize the reveal in Empire Strikes Back that I don’t find that interesting. Three, the case against the Ewoks has long been established. It’s also the beginning of the end of George Lucas as a serious storyteller and not a panderer to children. Want to know why the prequels suck? Look into Wicket’s eyes and tell me you don’t see Jar Jar Binks’ zygote.

The scenes with Luke, Vader, and the emperor shoulder Jedi‘s ending. (The space battle and Endor scenes don’t do much.) Its lesson is that all crimes against humanity (or sentient beings or whatever) can be forgiven if you really, really, love daddy and he’s an evil Jedi. I do like how the lightsaber fight contrasts with the one at the end of Empire Strikes Back. There, Vader was in control, testing Luke. In Jedi, Luke was in control (mostly), baffling Vader by refusing to fight. Although there isn’t much that could be done to fix those scenes, at least the movie could have ended with a political victory over the Empire than another military one. There isn’t a point where the masses of the core planets rise up on their own and dismantle the Empire.

Rogue One is rough around the edges, and it frustrates me because I grew up with Return of the Jedi and if it is to be supplanted, I want it to be an easy call. Rogue One has a scattered start, and the middle scene on Eadu doesn’t make much sense other than to deepen the characters. It picks up in the last act on Scarif and ends better than it begins. I’m not sure the Death Star-Manhattan Project relationship works well because Galen Erso isn’t a major character and is killed at the halfway point anyway. It’s either an overexpanded theme or an underexpanded plotline. Finally, while I’ve praised Rogue One for taking risks, I don’t enjoy martyrdom parables. The ending was a bit intense for me.

So … Rogue One wins. It gives me hope about the Star Wars franchise. I recognize that we still have this new Rey-Darth Emo plot arc that doesn’t inspire me much, and Rogue One‘s risks might be misunderstood and squandered by future Star Wars filmmakers, but at least we know they can make Star Wars films that are on par with the originals.

Let’s hope they do so.

CBO: $1.3 Trillion in New Federal Student Loans by 2027

Each year the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) provides its baseline projections for the federal student-loan program. This year it published them early with its annual “Budget and Economic Outlook.” The projections include the total amount of new federal student loans that the office believes will be disbursed, future interest rates, and subsidy costs, i.e. whether the government will make or lose money on the loans. This year, the CBO projects that the government will lend an additional $1.3 trillion to students between FY2017 and FY2027. The figure is up slightly since the 2016-2026 period, discussed here.

Subsidy Rates

The CBO uses an accrual-accounting methodology to determine the present value of federal loans. This essentially means discounting the estimated cash flows of student loans against government securities. If student loans make more money than buying government debt would, then the loans are valuable. Accrual accounting does not include the market risk that a private lender would consider when offering a student loan, which is why many people advocate fair-value accounting. It’s a surprisingly contentious issue, which I elaborate on in the student debt data page, because under most fair-value accounting estimates the government loses money on student loans.

Under accrual accounting, the CBO projects negative subsidy rates for federal student loans; that is, it sees the government profiting from its lending. All student loans issued in FY2017 will earn an estimated 13.3 percent return, about the same as last year. Of interest to law-school watchers: Unsubsidized Stafford loans and Grad PLUS loans issued in FY2017 will make 18.6 percent and 20.8 percent returns, respectively. Oddly, Parent PLUS loans appear to be the most profitable for the government.

table-2As with last year the CBO included fair-value estimates of federal student loans. By this measure, the government loses about 10 percent of its investment on student loans every year until FY2027. Unsubsidized Stafford loans and Grad PLUS loans lose about 4.5 percent in 2017, but the percentage increases over the decade. Parent PLUS loans remain profitable.

Note also that the CBO believes the net number of loans will rise during the decade. It’s already evident that federal student-loan borrowing is declining.

table-6Under accrual accounting the student loans will net the government $112.6 billion; under fair-value accounting the government will lose $133.8 billion. This isn’t a lot of money for the government, actually, but it could obviously be redirected to better uses.

Interest Rates

A crucial variable affecting subsidy rates is the CBO’s projection of future interest rates. Last year, the office believed interest rates for FY2016 would be about half a percent higher than they turned out to be. This year, the CBO estimates that interest rates will plateau at 3.5 percent starting in 2022.

projection-of-10-year-treasury-bond-interest-rates

Last year, I argued that the interest-rate estimates were more plausible than two years earlier. That was, however, before the election, and now the rate on 10-year government bonds is much higher than before. As a result, student debtors will probably pay higher rates starting in the next academic year, and the accrual method will produce higher future profits for the government that are probably illusory.

Blogger Discredited: Law Students Not Aging (on Average)

The blogger being … yours truly. A few years ago, I asserted on The American Lawyer that high-end LSAT scores were falling not because smart people were avoiding law school but because younger people were. I was trying to push back against the notion that young people are law-school lemmings. I think I was ultimately right about the LSAT scores but for other reasons, as I’ll discuss later.

In the meantime, here’s how we know I was wrong. The LSAC tracks law-school applicants by their ages. It last analyzed the data in 2010, and I thought it would only take two or three years until the next update. Well, the LSAC dragged its heels and kept a long-outdated pdf on its data Web page. I’m not sure why; the new numbers don’t show anything damning. Anyway, I noticed that the LSAC finally updated its applicant age data, so here you go:

percent-applicants-by-age-bracket

2010 is blank because the LSAC didn’t bother releasing that information, which is what happens when you’re slow and disorganized.

Using 2009 as the base year (because that’s the last applicant peak we have), we find a very modest shift in applicant age brackets. Among applicants in 2015, about 2.1 percent fewer were under the age of thirty while 2.1 percent more were over thirty. The biggest contributors are 25-29-year-olds and the over 40 bracket, respectively. Although half the cumulative decline in applicants since 2009 can be attributed to the 22-24 bracket, they take up about half the applicant pool. Other brackets also declined proportionally.

Other findings: Acceptance rates have risen in all brackets, which isn’t surprising, and for the most part the number of accepted applicants who didn’t matriculate fell. Starting in 2014, more women applied to law school than men. (LSAC applicant age data don’t always correspond perfectly to its other datasets, so this finding might not be precise.)

So why the decline in high-end LSATs? As the alt-fact-mongering Law School Truth Center taught me a couple years ago, the LSAT is an equated test, so declines in test takers proportionately reduce scores. As a result, fewer people will get high (and low) LSAT scores. The end.

LSAT Tea-Leaf Reading: December 2016 Edition

The number of December LSAT takers grew to 31,340 (+7.6 percent) this administration. It’s the second period with growth after small drops in February and June 2016.

no-lsat-takers-4-testing-period-moving-sum

The four-period moving sum, which is identical to the calendar-year total, rose to 108,255 (+2.1 percent). The growth rate is a hair less than in September/October 2015 (2.2 percent). The ABA Journal summarizes the discussion of whether the jump in test takers is increased interest in law school or a result of pushing the September/October administration earlier. Ultimately, the trend speaks to more interest in law school no matter how it’s distributed. We’ll learn more someday when the LSAC publishes data on first-time test takers.

I did not predict this result. As I said about the September/October 2016 LSAT administration, I thought the New York Times article on law schools earlier this summer would reduce interest in law school. However, as I discovered a few weeks ago, many applicants appear interested solely in highly regarded law schools, so even if there’s a bump in applicants, most law schools might not hear from any of them.

Speaking of which, the LSAC reports that applicants are down about 4.2 percent compared to last year. That still puts us on track to ~53,800 applicants. Last year 56,126 people applied to law school. With the back-loaded LSAT and later application deadlines, it’s possible that more people will apply than currently predicted. Again, I recommend caution because they may not distribute their applications evenly.

Which Law Schools Are Shedding Full-Time Faculty? (2016 Edition)

Facing shrinking enrollments, many law schools have responded by cutting their faculties. The phenomenon is worth measuring because faculty reductions aren’t always announced publicly, often appearing in the guises of retirements and quiet buy-outs. Consequently, the ABA’s 509 information reports can shed light on changes in law-school faculties. Here’s the cumulative distribution through 2016.

no-law-school-faculty-by-type

As with previous years, I will estimate the decline in fall full-time law-school faculties among the 201 law schools that aren’t in Puerto Rico. Note, however, that it’s unclear whether the term “full-time faculty” used in the 509 information reports includes full-time employees of a law school (as defined by the ABA’s annual questionnaire) who are on leave but have a right to return. Past editions of the Official Guide explicitly excluded full-time faculty who were on leave or sabbatical from their two-page spreads, which now exist as the online 509 information reports. The “Guide to the Data” pdf file accompanying the 509 information reports doesn’t specify either.

I assume the ABA is continuing to exclude faculty on leave or sabbatical and only counts faculty teaching courses in the fall or spring terms, even though it isn’t clear. Consequently, minor fluctuations might mean even less than I thought before, and although I’m obviously aware more faculty teach in the spring, I choose to track fall full-time faculty because the figures represent more recent developments. Additionally, full-time faculty who have shifted to the category “deans, librarians, and others who teach” are excluded as well. This may explain why there are fewer full-time faculty in the fall than spring as full-timers teach most of their courses then.

The peak for fall full timers occurred in 2010 (9,093), but that estimate includes the “other full-time faculty” category (clinicians and legal-writing instructors, if I recall), which the ABA no longer tracks independently. Fall full-time faculty fell by 3.3 percent this year (-261). Last year the decline was 3.4 percent (-242), so things are smoothing out. Since 2010, the cumulative decline has been 16.1 percent.

Here is a table of law schools ranked by net change in full-time faculty since 2010 and smallest faculty size in 2010. Trivial annual changes may not represent staff reductions and might be attributable to other factors, as discussed above. This year I’m choosing not to rank law schools that have merged, split, or didn’t exist in 2010 to prevent distortions.

FULL-TIME FACULTY (FALL)
RANK SCHOOL ’10 ’15 ’16 ANNUAL CHANGE NET CHANGE
1. WMU Cooley 101 44 41 -3 -60
N/A Rutgers-Camden 54 36 -36 -54
2. American 104 91 52 -39 -52
3. John Marshall (Chicago) 75 45 27 -18 -48
4. Florida Coastal 69 37 24 -13 -45
N/A Rutgers-Newark 40 37 -37 -40
N/A Penn State (Dickinson Law) 57 19 18 -1 -39
5. George Washington 106 70 69 -1 -37
N/A Hamline 34 10 -10 -34
N/A William Mitchell 34 22 -22 -34
6. St. Louis 65 45 34 -11 -31
7. Catholic 56 32 27 -5 -29
8. Seton Hall 59 37 32 -5 -27
8. Vermont 55 27 28 1 -27
8. Seattle 66 47 39 -8 -27
11. Widener (Delaware) 50 31 24 -7 -26
11. New York Law School 71 48 45 -3 -26
13. Pacific, McGeorge 63 34 39 5 -24
14. Pace 47 30 25 -5 -22
14. Cleveland State 39 19 17 -2 -22
16. Santa Clara 65 45 44 -1 -21
16. DePaul 56 32 35 3 -21
16. Hofstra 60 34 39 5 -21
19. Nova Southeastern 60 48 40 -8 -20
19. New England 40 26 20 -6 -20
21. Golden Gate 42 25 23 -2 -19
21. Texas 103 80 84 4 -19
23. California-Berkeley 90 68 72 4 -18
23. Stetson 59 45 41 -4 -18
23. Valparaiso 35 30 17 -13 -18
23. Suffolk 80 61 62 1 -18
23. Western New England 36 18 18 0 -18
23. Capital 35 23 17 -6 -18
23. Wisconsin 65 55 47 -8 -18
30. California Western 45 35 28 -7 -17
30. Boston University 67 50 50 0 -17
30. Detroit Mercy 42 25 25 0 -17
30. Syracuse 60 37 43 6 -17
30. Charleston 31 16 14 -2 -17
35. Chapman 51 40 35 -5 -16
35. Atlanta’s John Marshall 35 22 19 -3 -16
35. Albany 46 28 30 2 -16
35. Lewis and Clark 53 40 37 -3 -16
35. Villanova 49 31 33 2 -16
35. Houston 76 61 60 -1 -16
41. Arizona Summit [Phoenix] 32 7 17 10 -15
41. Hawaii 35 30 20 -10 -15
41. Fordham 81 65 66 1 -15
44. Louisiana State 41 30 27 -3 -14
44. Maryland 63 49 49 0 -14
44. St. John’s 50 37 36 -1 -14
44. Oklahoma City 34 22 20 -2 -14
48. Arizona 44 32 31 -1 -13
48. Arkansas (Little Rock) 30 21 17 -4 -13
48. Loyola (CA) 66 57 53 -4 -13
48. Thomas Jefferson 42 35 29 -6 -13
48. Whittier 31 31 18 -13 -13
48. Dayton 27 16 14 -2 -13
48. Regent 25 10 12 2 -13
55. Miami 82 72 70 -2 -12
55. SUNY Buffalo 54 27 42 15 -12
55. Touro 42 31 30 -1 -12
55. North Carolina Central 42 31 30 -1 -12
55. Akron 33 22 21 -1 -12
55. Widener (Commonwealth) 25 14 13 -1 -12
55. Marquette 39 27 27 0 -12
62. Faulkner 23 12 12 0 -11
62. Georgia 51 40 40 0 -11
62. Illinois 49 43 38 -5 -11
62. Loyola (IL) 60 51 49 -2 -11
62. Southern University 35 25 24 -1 -11
62. Tulsa 28 22 17 -5 -11
62. Roger Williams 27 14 16 2 -11
62. Gonzaga 29 21 18 -3 -11
70. La Verne 19 10 9 -1 -10
70. Connecticut 52 44 42 -2 -10
70. Quinnipiac 32 20 22 2 -10
70. Ave Maria 26 20 16 -4 -10
70. Loyola (LA) 50 42 40 -2 -10
75. San Diego 66 53 57 4 -9
75. Florida State 47 39 38 -1 -9
75. Iowa 46 34 37 3 -9
75. Kansas 35 30 26 -4 -9
75. Tulane 53 40 44 4 -9
75. Mississippi College 26 24 17 -7 -9
75. Campbell 23 17 14 -3 -9
75. Temple 63 60 54 -6 -9
75. Southern Methodist 46 37 37 0 -9
75. Appalachian 16 7 7 0 -9
85. Northern Kentucky 28 24 20 -4 -8
85. New Hampshire 33 28 25 -3 -8
85. Brooklyn 68 60 60 0 -8
85. Ohio Northern 22 12 14 2 -8
85. Oregon 35 29 27 -2 -8
90. Indiana (Bloomington) 59 52 52 0 -7
90. Indiana (Indianapolis) 41 34 34 0 -7
90. Boston College 51 50 44 -6 -7
90. Case Western Reserve 47 41 40 -1 -7
94. Alabama 47 40 41 1 -6
94. California-Hastings 71 59 65 6 -6
94. Southwestern 57 56 51 -5 -6
94. Washburn 31 27 25 -2 -6
94. Baltimore 58 58 52 -6 -6
94. Pittsburgh 47 43 41 -2 -6
94. Washington and Lee 35 26 29 3 -6
101. Southern California 43 39 38 -1 -5
101. Mercer 27 26 22 -4 -5
101. Chicago-Kent, IIT 66 65 61 -4 -5
101. Minnesota 58 57 53 -4 -5
101. St. Thomas (MN) 29 24 24 0 -5
101. Mississippi 31 25 26 1 -5
101. Montana 19 13 14 1 -5
101. Wake Forest 48 38 43 5 -5
101. Tennessee 30 28 25 -3 -5
101. Texas Tech 35 30 30 0 -5
111. District of Columbia 21 18 17 -1 -4
111. Barry 33 34 29 -5 -4
111. Florida International 32 29 28 -1 -4
111. Louisville 26 21 22 1 -4
111. Missouri (Kansas City) 34 33 30 -3 -4
111. Washington University 68 63 64 1 -4
111. Pennsylvania 75 75 71 -4 -4
111. Texas A&M [Wesleyan] 30 30 26 -4 -4
119. Arizona State 53 49 50 1 -3
119. Arkansas (Fayetteville) 29 29 26 -3 -3
119. San Francisco 37 33 34 1 -3
119. Southern Illinois 27 22 24 2 -3
119. Drake 28 26 25 -1 -3
119. Wayne State 38 39 35 -4 -3
119. Toledo 26 20 23 3 -3
119. Duquesne 26 26 23 -3 -3
119. South Texas 44 41 41 0 -3
128. Samford 23 21 21 0 -2
128. Pepperdine 35 35 33 -2 -2
128. Florida A&M 35 20 33 13 -2
128. Kentucky 25 23 23 0 -2
128. Cincinnati 29 27 27 0 -2
128. Oklahoma 34 31 32 1 -2
128. South Dakota 14 11 12 1 -2
128. Utah 34 32 32 0 -2
128. George Mason 38 34 36 2 -2
128. Wyoming 21 22 19 -3 -2
138. California-Los Angeles 86 86 85 -1 -1
138. Michigan State 52 50 51 1 -1
138. New Mexico 28 29 27 -2 -1
138. Cardozo, Yeshiva 61 69 60 -9 -1
138. Willamette 28 26 27 1 -1
138. Vanderbilt 36 38 35 -3 -1
138. Washington 54 65 53 -12 -1
145. Creighton 23 25 23 -2 0
145. Nevada 26 27 26 -1 0
145. City University 36 37 36 -1 0
145. South Carolina 36 36 36 0 0
149. California-Davis 43 43 44 1 1
149. Western State 16 17 17 0 1
149. Howard 26 25 27 2 1
149. St. Thomas (FL) 28 30 29 -1 1
149. Notre Dame 46 47 47 0 1
149. Nebraska 26 27 27 0 1
149. Charlotte 35 48 36 -12 1
149. Duke 70 76 71 -5 1
149. North Dakota 12 15 13 -2 1
149. Baylor 27 25 28 3 1
149. Liberty 19 20 20 0 1
149. Virginia 79 80 80 0 1
161. Georgia State 57 59 59 0 2
161. Harvard 141 154 143 -11 2
161. Northeastern 36 41 38 -3 2
161. Elon 20 22 22 0 2
161. William and Mary 39 44 41 -3 2
161. West Virginia 33 34 35 1 2
167. Colorado 43 48 46 -2 3
167. Chicago 71 67 74 7 3
167. Northern Illinois 19 21 22 1 3
167. Maine 16 19 19 0 3
167. New York University 151 153 154 1 3
167. Drexel 27 27 30 3 3
167. St. Mary’s 36 29 39 10 3
174. Yale 76 71 80 9 4
174. Emory 58 68 62 -6 4
174. Missouri (Columbia) 28 30 32 2 4
174. North Carolina 42 49 46 -3 4
174. Memphis 18 22 22 0 4
174. Richmond 36 35 40 5 4
180. Idaho 21 25 26 1 5
N/A Indiana Tech 7 5 -2 5
180. Michigan 92 90 97 7 5
180. Texas Southern 30 29 35 6 5
183. Cornell 51 63 57 -6 6
183. Ohio State 42 46 48 2 6
N/A Concordia 10 8 -2 8
N/A Lincoln Memorial 9 8 -1 8
185. Brigham Young 19 27 27 0 8
186. Denver 62 69 71 2 9
187. Florida 56 68 66 -2 10
188. Georgetown 129 128 140 12 11
188. Northwestern 99 104 110 6 11
N/A Belmont 13 13 0 13
N/A Belmont 13 13 0 13
N/A Massachusetts — Dartmouth 15 14 -1 14
190. Stanford 68 91 88 -3 20
N/A Penn State (Penn State Law) 35 31 -4 31
N/A California-Irvine 35 38 3 38
N/A Mitchell|Hamline 38 38 38
191. Columbia 107 161 153 -8 46
N/A Rutgers 76 76 76
10TH PERCENTILE 23 17 17 -7 -22
25TH PERCENTILE 30 25 23 -4 -14
MEDIAN 42 33 32 -1 -6
75TH PERCENTILE 58 48 45 1 1
90TH PERCENTILE 75 68 66 4 5
MEAN 46.4 38.9 38.0 -1.3 -7.1
GROSS GAIN (^-^) 321 442
GROSS LOSS -582 -1,902
CUMULATIVE 9,093 7,894 7,633 -261 -1,460

Editorial observations:

  • WMU Cooley retains its crown as number one.
  • No. 2, American, appears to have lost 43 percent of its fall full-time faculty this year—half since 2010. This may be a misreporting by the law school.
  • The same goes for number three, John Marshall. It’s lost nearly two-thirds of its faculty since 2010.
  • I’m less surprised to see Florida Coastal next on the list.
  • No. 5, George Washington, raised a stir in 2015 because, as some commenters insisted, the law school reclassified a number of full-time faculty to a designation none could identify. It’s possible that the elimination of the “other full-time faculty” category somehow disserved GWU, but I don’t really see why because similar problems didn’t plague other law schools at the time. As it is, until someone can identify which bucket GWU put those twenty or so persons, it keeps its high place.
  • Whittier lost 13 full-time faculty this year, but it had gained 10 last year. Similarly, SUNY Buffalo lost 24 last year but gained 15 this year. Again, probably erratic reporting.
  • A bunch of law schools lost more than 10 full-time faculty this year that I haven’t already mentioned: Valparaiso (-13), University of Washington (-12), Charlotte (-12), St. Louis (-11), and Harvard (-11). Of these, Charlotte lost 16 last year, and Harvard gained 15 last year.
  • Arizona Summit gained back ten, and it did report part-time faculty this year. Last year it didn’t, which was clearly wrong.
  • Finally, five law schools are running with fewer than ten fall full-time faculty, La Verne (9), Lincoln Memorial (8), Concordia (8), Appalachian (7), and the doomed Indiana Tech (5).

Here are prior posts on this topic:

2015: Full-Time Law Students Paying Full Tuition Fell ~5 Percentage Points (Again)

As with 2014, the proportion of full-time law students paying full freight fell substantially at the average law school not in Puerto Rico. In 2015, the last year for which data are available, the average was 28.1 percent, down from 32.9 percent. In 2011, the average was 20 points higher.

percent-full-time-law-students-paying-full-tuition

A decade ago, more than half of law students paid full tuition; now, not even one in three does.

At the average private law school, nearly as many students who received half-to-full tuition grants paid nothing at all. Those numbers might have converged this year, but the crunch in students has decelerated, so they may have leveled off. Nevertheless, law schools must be losing a lot of money.

no-full-time-private-law-school-students-per-school-by-grant-received

Indeed, in 2015, revenue from full-time students paying full tuition is now half its peak in 2011. At freestanding private law schools, including the for-profits, it’s fallen to one third. In 2001 the median private law school made $9.0 million on these students. In 2015, it took in $4.3 million.

aggregate-revenue-from-full-time-private-law-school-students-paying-full-tuition

So how substantially are law schools discounting? Here’s what tuition discounted by the median grant looks like at private law schools by the mean of their full tuition quintiles. It’s a mouthful, but the idea here is to set full tuition as the independent variable and let the discounted tuition float.

full-time-private-law-school-tuition-and-median-discounted-tuition-by-tuition-quintile-mean

We find that law schools charging in the fourth quintile of full tuition (~$49,000) discount so much that they’re cheaper than the median discounted tuition of the third full-tuition quintile (~$45,000). Meanwhile, the gap between private law schools in the fifth quintile (~$56,500) and the rest is widening. What’s also obvious is how much more law schools are willing to charge students paying full freight.

Information on this topic from previous years: