Restructuring Law School Tuition

InsideHigherEd reported on the University of La Verne College of Law's tuition restructuring. La Verne might be the "first law school to stop offering discounts to the top students it wants to attract."

"Instead, the Southern California law school will charge all students a flat price of $25,000 a year. Before, its sticker price was $39,000, but many students didn't pay anywhere near that much. Its 127 students actually paid an average of about $25,000 a year, but the students with the highest test scores paid less. Overall, its discount rate -- the share of tuition charges the college forgoes in the form of scholarships -- was 46 percent."

"La Verne's dean, Gilbert Holmes, said discount pricing, which colleges use to reward both low-income students and high-achieving students, can widen gaps between advantaged and disadvantaged students because the students who are most likely to succeed and make more money after law school graduate with the least debt. Often, students with that preparation have more advantages in their background than lower-scoring students who attend law school."

This is a good point and one that has gotten little attention as tuition has skyrocketed with most of the debt landing on the backs of the already disadvantaged students.

"The [dean] said he got the idea for fair pricing from Brian Z. Tamanaha's book Failing Law Schools, which criticized law schools for, among other things, buying high-end students to appease publications like U.S. News & World Report. [T]he vast majority of law schools, low-priced or high-priced, play the discounting game. For many it is part of how they hope to rise in the rankings, in part through attracting more students with high LSAT scores or class ranks."

For those law schools that are less concerned with rank, this might be a better model to make the cost of law school fair for everyone.

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