The Variable Affordability of Law School -- How Geography and LSAT Profile Impact Tuition Costs
23 Pages Posted: 9 Jan 2015
Date Written: January 5, 2015
I have set forth here the PowerPoint slides I presented on January 5, 2015 at the AALS Conference session sponsored by the Section on Law School Administration and Finance. The presentation was entitled The Variable Affordability of Law School – How Geography and LSAT Impact Tuition Cost. (I am very grateful to my research assistant, Kate Jirik, and her husband, Sam, for awesome work on the spreadsheet that supported the data I presented.)
The presentation begins with two slides summarizing data presented in my article Reflections on the Decreasing Affordability of Legal Education showing the extent to which average public school and private school tuition increased between 1985 and 2011 relative to law school graduate income. While many have observed that law school has become increasingly expensive over the last few decades, this "macro" discussion fails to highlight the extent to which differences in tuition exist at a “micro” level either based on geography or on LSAT score.
Using 2012 tuition data, the first set of slides focuses on geographic differences – noting some states where legal education generally is very expensive, some states where legal education generally is very affordable and the balance of states in which tuition costs are in the middle or have a mix of affordable and expensive.
Following those slides, there is a set of slides that describe the process I used to calculate net tuition costs after accounting for scholarships for all entering first-year students at the 195 fully accredited and ranked law schools in fall 2012 in an effort to allocate all students into a five-by-five grid with five LSAT categories (165, 160-164, 155-159, 150-154 and <150) and five cost categories ($0-$10,000, $10,000-$20,000, $20,000-$30,000, $30,000-$40,000, and $40,000). There then are a set of slides summarizing this data and trying to explain what we can learn from how students are allocated across the five-by-five grid, which includes a set of slides showing the average rank of the schools at which students in each LSAT/Cost category cell are enrolled.
The concluding slide sets forth a couple of short observations about the data. There was a robust discussion with some great questions following the presentation of this data.
Keywords: legal education, tuition, geography, lsat profile
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