Tuition Data

Full-Time Students Paying Full Tuition Fell ~5 Percentage Points in 2014

Once upon a time, more than half of law students at the typical law school paid full tuition.

But that fairy tale is now over. Behold:

Percent Full-Time Law Students Paying Full Tuition

I’m astonished. Now, only about a third of law students at the average law school pay full tuition. These schools must be hemorrhaging money given how much they’re fighting over applicants.

At the average private law school in 2014, there were more students who received less-than-half tuition grants than there were students given a full bill. It appears that in a couple years, even the half-to-full-tuition crowd will outnumber the full freighters—and this is last year’s data!

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

Speaking of hemorrhaging money, in 2014, full-time law students paying full tuition only contributed $1 billion to private law schools. This year, it’s probably less.

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

Finally, here’s what tuition discounted by the median grant looks like at private law schools by the mean of their full tuition quintiles. 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

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

Last year, the mean discounted tuition among law schools in the second full-tuition quintile was lower than the third’s, meaning second-quintile schools are discounting much more than schools that nominally charge less. I think it’s trivial, but it indicates pricing competition.

That’s all for now.

Site Update 2015-06-01: Law School Cost Data Page

If you want to know why I haven’t been posting so often, it’s that I’ve been procrastinating! Woo!

I did, however, find time to update the comprehensive Law School Cost Data (1996-) page. Most of the effort is just revisiting law schools’ Web sites to ensure I have their full names correctly. As usual I forgot that law schools have a tendency to place images of attractive women on their main pages, so that wasn’t a total exercise in tediousness.

One thing to note that readers might not know is that even though Lincoln Memorial was accredited after the data submission deadline for 2014, it does have a 509 Information Report (pdf). However, its data are not included in the ABA’s required disclosures Web site, so if you’re into law school data, you’ll need to get that file separately and incorporate it into your spreadsheets.


Law School Cuts Its Tuition to Zero (and Other 509 Report Errata)

Students at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School were surprised to find their tuition was free for the 2014-15 academic year.

Free Tuition!

Such generosity!

That’s the most amusing error in the law school 509 Information Reports I’ve found thus far. The ABA doesn’t audit the data law schools provide it, so people using them might want to know when it’s obviously incorrect. I’m tallying up the ones I find, but I won’t do so exhaustively. I figure the ABA just runs a program that spits all the data into the reports automatically, so I’ll confine my teasing to the schools for the mistakes.

Atlanta’s John Marshall is one of two law schools that have tuition problems. For those curious, looking on John Marshall’s Web site I get $38,100 in tuition costs, $198 technology fees, $1,340 for health insurance, and $194 in student bar association costs ($39,832 total). This is largely consistent with its charges last year ($39,578).

Another law school with a tuition typo is St. Mary’s, whose 509 report says it charges $33,100 for resident and $33,110 for non-residents, a patent ambiguity that doesn’t make sense for a private law school. Worse, when I look at its Web site, I get $33,010 ($32,340 for tuition, $670 for fees). That’s the number I’m going to go with.

Readers might also be curious about law schools’ enrollment breakdowns. I don’t track the ethnicities of full-time and part-time students, but I did do get their totals as well as the genders and ethnicities of 1Ls, total enrollments, and graduates. These numbers usually add up across the table, but there are a few cases that I’ve found that don’t.

The biggest offender is SUNY-Buffalo, which accidentally totaled its male and female students in its “Other” column (a new addition to the reports this year) instead of the “Total” column. This causes significant arithmetical errors that end up doubling the school’s enrollment over the year before. I have SUNY-Buffalo with 547 full-time students, 10 part-time students, and zero “other” students.

The tables for San Francisco and Minnesota also do not total properly due to problems in the “Other” column. As I have it, San Francisco has 425 full-time students, 102 part-time students, and no “other” students (by enrollment, not gender). Minnesota has 681 full-time students, 17 part-time students, and zero “other” students (ditto).

It’s unclear, but I think most law schools that used the “other” category meant it for gender and enrollment status while these schools had one category but not the other.

Hopefully these errors will be corrected either by the law schools or the ABA.


While I have your attention, I thought I’d spill the beans on where undiscounted tuition costs went this year: pretty much nowhere. The median private law school charged about $200 more than last year in real dollars, but costs are moving up slightly on the very high end while nominal tuition cuts are manifesting at the low end of the scale. I can’t make a clear determination at this point, but anyone thinking that legal education is moving toward a two-tier market—one for cheaper law schools, the other for very expensive prestigious ones—might see this as year 1 for their hypothesis.

Full-Time Law School Tuition Dispersion (Excl. P.R., Constant $)

I suppose now’s the appropriate time to congratulate Columbia for being the first law school to breach the $60,000 mark. 23 others charge more than $50,000 annually, many of them are in U.S. News‘ top 20. In 2010, only three charged so much.

The next chart shows the overall slowdown of tuition cost growth over the last few years and the nominal declines within the lowest quintile.

Full-Time Private Law School Tuition Increases by Tuition Quintile Mean (Current $)

I haven’t done a full analysis yet, but I think only Iowa has seen any direct correlation between nominal cost cuts and an increase in applications (and that’s a public law school). The rest still saw declines.

Peace out.

Site Update: ‘Law School Tuition Data Going Back to 1996’…

…Can be found on the “LAW SCHOOL COST DATA (1996-)” page.

Formerly called ,”Tuition Increases at All ABA Law Schools (1999-),” or something like that, I’ve revised this site’s renowned tuition data page. Biggest changes include:

  • Tuition data for each law school going back to 1996 and up to 2013
  • Percentages of full-time students paying full tuition at each law school
  • Percentages of full-time students receiving the median grant or more at each law school (as stated in the Official Guide)
  • Tuition levels discounted by the median grant at private law schools that aren’t Brigham Young
  • A bunch of carefully sculpted dispersion charts and tables showing changes in law school tuition since 1985 or 1996 with the annual Stafford loan limit
  • And no tuition projections. I know they were popular. I know they gave me easy page views, but I don’t think any forward projection based on past data will be accurate anymore given that tuition increases are slowing down now. Also, the necessary methodology page was truly boring to write, and if anything, you folks deserve more “No Bubble, Just ROCK!!!” posts than me being bored on my own blog.

Don’t worry though, the URL is the same as before, so anyone linking to it will find the same information.

Tracking this kind of information on the back end is becoming harder as law schools (a) are socialized by public universities (meaning a change in status), (b) change their names (sometimes to sound more “hashtaggy”), and (c) contemplate splitting into multiple campuses. I’m sure consolidations are on the way as well. As it is, gathering their exact, full names was easily the most tedious aspect of this update. Easily.

Like, law schools, if you can hear me, please put your complete, full name on your main pages. Not in logos, and definitely not ending in “[law school name] Law” as though your school’s name is in fact the title of a law. To pick on one example, when I read “Wayne Law,” I thought about The Wonder Years taking place in a Michigan law school with Fred Savage, Jason Hervey, and Danica McKellar, the awesomest mathematician alive.

Which reminds me: Law schools, I’m into women as much as the next gynephile, but you do realize you put a lot of women on your main pages. There’s a certain … lack of originality to seeing attractive young women on the law school Web sites.

Wait, what am I complaining about? Strike that.

Okay, I should add—and this is very, very, very important—because the data page is so long (which is by design and I have no interest in changing) it doesn’t load well in Mozilla Firefox. If you scroll down far enough, at some point the screen turns black and the numbers are unreadable. It doesn’t crash the browser, but it doesn’t make the site easy to read. It does, however, work in Google Chrome. I don’t know if it works well on other browsers. Frankly, I don’t care at this point. Chrome is free; I prefer Firefox; whatever; we’re done here.

Full-Time Private Law School Tuition Projections for 2017, 2022

It’s the season for the LSTB’s perennial full-time private law school tuition projections. This is the third year I’ve made such projections, and I always try to improve the methodology to produce accurate and precise forecasts. The biggest changes this year are a large increase in source data—last year I scoured the Web for older copies of the ABA-LSAC Official Guide to the ABA Law Schools (Official Guide)—and I’ve improved the projections methodology.

In previous years, I forecasted future costs via linear regression based on law schools’ previous prices. I chose this model because it offered the lowest average costs, but it proved woefully imprecise. This year, I’ve changed to using law schools’ average annual (numeric) growth rates because it is both more accurate and precise than the linear regression methodology.

You can read about my test of the methodologies here.

As always, I exclude the two private law schools in Puerto Rico and Brigham Young’s tuition for LDS students. Unlike last year, though, I will not try to make projections for public-in-name-only law schools because there aren’t enough data to make reasonably accurate predictions. [Mini-update: The projections are in current dollars.]

Like last year, the “relative variance” column on the far right of the projections table is the percent difference between the law schools’ projected costs for 2012 (based on their 1999-2011 prices) and what they actually charged in 2012. The point is to provide an indicator for distinguishing between outliers and reasonably accurate projections. In 2012, the average private law school raised its price by less than in previous years, suggesting that going forward, costs will plateau. Here’s a chart of the distribution of tuition increases over the years.

Dispersal of Full-Time Private Law School Tuition Price IncreasesDispersal of Full-Time Private Law School Tuition Price Increases (Zoomed In)

Analysis of the Official Guide data also shows that the percent of full-time students paying full freight has dropped considerably in the last decade:

Percent Full-Time Law Students Paying Full Tuition

It might be the case that the real tuition today are less for the median student than a few years ago, but it’s still important for people to know that law schools will continue to depend on students who pay full freight. Because it’s harder for them to choose to drop out, 2Ls and 3Ls are especially likely to be asked to shoulder higher costs as their scholarships are rescinded.

The Official Guide data can be found on the LSTB data page, which I’ve updated to include the 1999-2000/2003-2004 academic years and inflation-adjusted tuition instead of percent increases. Okay, here are the projections. Enjoy.


Another Note on Private Law School Tuition Projection Methodologies

It’s the time of year again in which I offer my projections of how much private law schools will charge full-time students five and ten years from now. This requires a note (or digression) on the methodology I use. Last year, I went to great lengths to justify my decision to use law schools’ tuition data in individual linear regressions for the projections. Two things are different this year:

(1)  Because I scoured the Internet for older copies of the Official Guide, I now have more law school tuition data. My data go back to 1999 instead of 2004. The data alter the projections.

(2)  I may’ve found a better projection methodology than individual linear regression.

The added data speak for themselves, but it occurred to me that another potentially effective way of projecting future law school tuition is by using the average annual growth rate.

This table ought to explain what I’m talking about:

1999 20,980 N/A
2000 22,055 1,075
2001 23,194 1,139
2002 24,413 1,219
2003 25,968 1,555
2004 27,617 1,649
2005 29,229 1,612
2006 30,915 1,686
2007 32,841 1,926
2008 34,710 1,869
2009 36,510 1,800
2010 38,097 1,587
2011 39,697 1,600
2012 41,132 1,435

The questions are (a) is the average annual growth rate more accurate and precise than linear regression, and (b) if so, is it better to project each law school’s tuition individually or apply the overall average ($1,550) to each law school to snuff out outliers (Faulkner, I’m looking at you)?

On average the linear regression and average annual growth rate methodologies produce the same results.

Private Law School Tuition Projection Methodologies Comparison (2012-2022)

So let’s take this to the individual law school level by asking, “Which methodology on average most accurately and precisely predicted law schools’ 2012 costs based on their 1999-2011 prices?”

No. Private Law Schools by Tuition Projection Percent Variance by Methodology (2012)

Here are the average percent variances between the projected tuition prices and actual results (closer to zero is better) and the average deviations of the percent variances as a share of the average percent variance (smaller is more compact, which is better).

  • Linear Regression: 0.2% (average variance); 1,072.5% (deviation share of average)
  • Average Annual Growth Rate: 0.4%; 382.2%
  • Average Annual Growth Rate (Individual): 0.5%; 308.7%

You can see why I’m dissatisfied with the linear regression methodology: great average, horrible distribution.

The two average annual growth rate methodologies raise a conundrum: Applying the average law school’s average annual growth rate to each school is more accurate (closer to zero) while calculating the average annual growth rate for each school individually is generally more precise (tighter deviation). Here’s what it would look like projected out to 2017.

No. Private Law Schools by Tuition Projection Percent Variance by Methodology (2017)

  • Linear Regression: 20.7%; 15.4%
  • Average Annual Growth Rate: 19.3%; 12.8%
  • Average Annual Growth Rate (Individual): 19.8%; 9.4%

I’m pleased enough with the individual average annual growth rate’s precision that I’m willing to adopt it for this year. The only other revision to this methodology I can imagine is weighting the average annual growth rate on recent tuition increases on the basis that future tuition increases are going to be more like recent ones than those of the mid-2000s. I’d like to wait and see how much (or little) tuition costs increased this year before running that experiment.

Because of the change, here are revisions to past projections according to the older data and newer methodology. Note, the revisions do not include more recent years’ data to keep them consistent with the older projections.


Private Law School Tuition Projections for 2016, 2021

If you weren’t looking, you missed it: I finished redoing the law school tuition page on October 3. I meant to finish the private law school tuition projections first, but sometimes it’s just easier to mindlessly key in 2,217 tuition figures than to redo a table.

So, how does one project law school tuition? I just extended the linear regression of each law school’s tuition based on its Official Guide entries going back to 2004. The basis is that past tuition increases are a predictor of future ones. The alternatives are making exponential projections based on previous tuition, using the average annualized growth rate for the last several years (5.32 percent), and arbitrarily knocking two percentage points off the average annualized growth rate (3.32 percent). None of these is particularly satisfactory, but when I tested methodologies recently by using the 2004-2010 tuition figures to predict law schools’ 2011 tuition, which we already have, I found that linear regression was the least precise in absolute terms but it was also the most likely to low-ball a law school’s actual 2011 tuition. I think this relative inaccuracy is important because no one seriously expects tuition to grow as quickly as it did even a few years ago.

As with last time, I’m excluding the two Puerto Rico private law schools and Brigham Young’s LDS tuition. The handful of public law schools that are clearly not taking any state subsidies is listed separately. The criteria for joining this ignominious class of public schools is having an in-state tuition that’s higher than the average private law school that’s outside of Puerto Rico. It’s possible that some public schools aren’t being subsidized but are still cheaper than the average private law school, e.g. Penn State, which charges resident and non-resident students the same. Lucky them.

The only addition for this year is that I’m adding a column on the right side giving the “relative variance,” which is a measure of how (in)accurate the linear regression test was when comparing projected tuition to their 2011 outcomes. I think the lower the better, but anything below -3.0 percent or so is probably too low. The idea is to give readers a measure of how reliable the estimate is, given that some law school engaged in serious expansions in recent years that I hope they couldn’t get away with now, especially Faulkner University, which doubled its tuition in the span of a few years.

These are ranked according to their 2021-22 projected tuition, enjoy:

1. Cornell Law School 53,226 66,800 79,800 1.7%
2. Yale Law School 52,525 64,600 76,300 1.1%
3. Columbia University 52,902 63,800 75,000 -0.9%
4. Northwestern University 51,920 63,400 74,800 0.4%
5. University of Pennsylvania 50,718 62,200 73,500 0.4%
6. New England School of Law 40,984 57,300 72,300 5.1%
7. Seton Hall University 46,840 59,900 72,200 2.8%
8. Cardozo 48,370 60,600 72,200 2.3%
9. Vermont Law School 43,993 58,400 72,000 3.2%
10. Duke University 49,617 60,500 71,400 0.2%
11. University of Southern California 50,591 61,000 71,300 0.0%
12. Brooklyn Law School 48,441 60,000 71,200 1.0%
13. Fordham University 47,986 59,600 70,700 2.1%
14. St. John’s University 46,450 58,700 70,700 1.3%
15. Baylor University 43,573 57,000 70,200 0.7%
16. Stanford Law School 49,179 59,400 70,100 -1.6%
17. Syracuse University 45,647 59,000 70,100 8.8%
18. New York University 50,336 59,900 69,700 -0.6%
19. Harvard Law School 48,786 59,100 69,400 0.2%
20. Vanderbilt University 46,148 58,200 68,900 5.2%
21. Touro College 41,890 55,600 67,900 5.7%
22. Faulkner University 32,187 51,300 67,800 17.1%
23. University of Chicago 47,786 58,000 67,800 1.5%
24. Georgetown 46,865 57,400 67,500 1.7%
25. Quinnipiac University 45,050 55,700 66,500 -0.4%
26. Hofstra University 45,600 56,000 66,400 0.4%
27. Washington and Lee University 41,947 54,200 65,900 2.6%
28. American University 45,096 55,500 65,700 0.9%
29. George Washington University 45,750 55,300 64,800 0.2%
30. Washington University 46,042 55,200 64,500 -0.2%
31. New York Law School 47,800 56,000 63,900 1.0%
32. Loyola Marymount 43,060 53,800 63,700 3.0%
33. Tulane University 43,684 53,800 63,400 1.6%
34. California Western 42,700 52,500 62,500 -0.5%
35. DePaul University 41,690 52,100 62,500 -0.2%
36. Illinois Institute of Technology 42,030 52,200 62,500 0.2%
37. Emory University 45,098 53,600 62,100 -0.2%
38. Pepperdine University 42,840 52,400 61,900 0.9%
39. Case Western Reserve University 42,564 52,200 61,700 0.0%
40. Roger Williams University 39,550 50,900 61,700 2.3%
41. Suffolk University 42,660 52,300 61,600 1.9%
42. Seattle University 39,282 50,500 61,600 1.0%
43. Chapman University 41,873 51,800 61,400 1.0%
44. Notre Dame 43,335 52,100 61,200 -1.2%
45. University of New Hampshire 39,990 50,400 61,000 -0.5%
46. Phoenix School of Law 37,764 49,600 60,900 2.9%
47. Thomas Jefferson 41,000 50,600 60,600 -2.2%
48. University of La Verne 40,732 50,500 60,500 -1.2%
49. Golden Gate University 40,515 50,500 60,400 0.5%
50. Southwestern University 42,200 50,700 60,100 -3.8%
51. Charlotte 36,916 48,500 59,800 2.2%
52. University of the Pacific 41,393 50,600 59,400 1.4%
53. University of San Diego 42,574 51,300 59,300 2.8%
54. Southern Methodist University 42,057 50,400 59,200 -1.9%
55. Northeastern University 42,296 50,900 59,000 2.1%
56. Catholic University of America 41,995 50,200 58,800 -1.4%
57. University of Denver 38,502 49,000 58,500 4.2%
58. Union University 41,845 50,500 58,500 2.9%
59. Boston University 42,654 50,400 58,100 0.2%
60. Wake Forest University 38,756 48,600 57,900 2.3%
61. Valparaiso University 38,086 48,100 57,600 2.4%
62. Boston College 41,818 49,900 57,400 2.4%
63. University of San Francisco 40,544 48,800 57,100 0.2%
64. Santa Clara University 41,790 49,000 56,700 -1.9%
65. Whittier Law School 39,140 48,000 56,500 1.3%
66. John Marshall (Chicago) 38,180 47,400 56,200 1.8%
67. Florida Coastal 36,968 46,300 56,000 -1.4%
68. Marquette University 37,570 46,300 55,600 -2.1%
69. Western State University 37,284 46,200 55,500 -1.6%
70. Loyola University Chicago 39,496 47,600 55,500 1.0%
71. Villanova University 37,780 46,800 55,400 1.9%
72. University of Miami 39,848 47,700 55,100 2.0%
73. University of St. Thomas 34,898 45,900 54,800 10.0%
74. Western New England College 38,240 46,600 54,700 1.6%
75. Pace University 40,978 48,200 54,700 2.7%
76. Charleston Law School 36,774 45,500 53,600 3.0%
77. Michigan State University 35,840 44,900 53,500 2.5%
78. Mercer University 36,860 45,500 53,400 3.0%
79. Loyola University New Orleans 38,266 45,500 53,400 -3.4%
80. John Marshall (Atlanta) 34,810 44,000 53,100 1.1%
81. Elon University 34,550 43,800 53,000 -0.6%
82. Lewis & Clark College 36,412 44,000 52,100 -2.2%
83. Oklahoma City University 35,470 43,500 51,600 0.0%
84. William Mitchell 35,710 43,400 51,400 -0.8%
85. Campbell University 33,910 42,700 51,400 0.6%
86. University of Detroit 36,050 43,400 51,300 -3.0%
87. Samford University 34,848 43,000 51,200 -0.3%
88. Drexel University 36,051 43,600 51,200 -0.6%
89. Ave Maria 36,448 44,300 51,100 5.2%
90. Drake University 34,006 42,400 50,600 1.2%
91. Hamline 34,555 42,800 50,600 1.7%
92. Saint Louis University 36,175 43,400 49,900 2.8%
93. Widener University 36,450 43,000 49,800 -0.8%
94. Widener University (Harrisburg) 36,450 43,000 49,800 -0.8%
95. Duquesne University 33,752 41,800 49,700 0.3%
96. University of Richmond 35,430 42,500 49,500 0.3%
97. Stetson University 35,466 42,200 49,400 -2.5%
98. St. Thomas University 34,618 41,800 49,100 -0.9%
99. Cooley 34,340 40,900 49,100 -8.2%
100. Barry University 33,630 41,200 48,200 3.0%
101. Creighton University 32,494 40,500 48,200 1.5%
102. Capital University 32,683 40,900 48,200 4.9%
103. Nova Southeastern University 33,250 40,800 47,500 3.9%
104. Gonzaga University 34,105 40,700 47,200 0.3%
105. Regent University 32,780 39,900 47,000 0.0%
106. Mississippi College 29,150 38,200 46,700 2.7%
107. Ohio Northern University 32,750 39,300 46,400 -2.7%
108. Howard University 29,131 37,200 46,000 -4.5%
109. University of Dayton 31,598 40,100 45,900 14.2%
110. University of Tulsa 32,056 38,400 45,100 -1.6%
111. Willamette University 32,540 38,000 43,800 -1.5%
112. Appalachian School of Law 29,825 36,600 43,500 -0.7%
113. Liberty University 30,604 37,000 43,500 -0.7%
114. St. Mary’s University 29,406 36,500 43,000 3.4%
115. Texas Wesleyan University 28,790 35,500 42,300 -0.3%
116. Brigham Young University 21,200 30,300 38,100 10.4%
117. South Texas 26,850 32,700 38,000 4.1%
118. Pontifical Catholic University of PR 14,446
119. Interamerican University of PR 14,403
120. Brigham Young University 10,600
MEDIAN 39,550 49,000 58,100 0.9%
MEAN 39,697 49,060 58,175 1.2%
AVG DEVIATION 5,050 6,168 75,24 2.1%

For the handful of public law schools, here you go:

1. CA-Berkeley 50,163
2. Michigan 46,830 60,010 72,302
3. CA-Davis 46,485
4. CA-Los Angeles 44,922
5. Virginia 44,600 58,924 72,995
6. CA-Irvine 43,280
7. CA-Hastings 40,836 50,486 60,136

That’s all I’ve got. Peace.