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August 3, 2009 12:44 PM

Sharp Jumps in Public Law School Tuition

Posted by Zach Lowe

Karen Sloan's story in the National Law Journal is chock full of good information on the increase in tuition rates for students at public university law schools, especially in-state students. Law schools at public universities across the U.S. are hiking tuition, often by more than 10 percent and even more than 20 percent in a few cases, according to the story.

Law school tuition rates have been increasing by between 5 and 10 percent for several years, but the jumps set for this year are much sharper, the NLJ says.

The hikes, as you might have guessed, are in response to a decline in public funding due to the recession. The ten universities in the University of California public system are receiving about $800 million less from the state in the current fiscal year as compared with the prior year, the NLJ reports. Only about one-third of the operating budget at UCLA law school will come from public money; that figure was up nearly 80 percent two decades ago, according to John Power, the school's chief financial and administrative officer. 

Every law school in the system is increasing tuition by at least 10 percent, the NLJ says. (The schools point out that a portion of the increased tuition payments will go toward financial aid.)

The tuition increases often amount to $5,000 or so per year for many students. In-state students at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law--Bloomington will pay about $25,000 this year after paying a tad less than $20,000 last year, the NLJ reports. 

Is this a crisis? That depends on whom you ask, according to Amir Ali, a 3L at Indiana and the president of the student bar association. "In-state students were paying $14,000 in 2006 and now it's around $25,000," he told the NLJ. "No one's happy about it. There is a line of people who don't like it at all, and there's a line of people who say, 'This might be worth it if it helps us find a job.'"


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