Poor Students, Well-Paid Lawyers: Post-Graduation Income-Contingent Tuition Fees for Law Schools

20 Pages Posted: 23 May 2004

See all articles by Bruce Pardy

Bruce Pardy

Queen's University - Faculty of Law


Law Schools in Canada have traditionally been funded mainly from two sources: government grants and student-paid tuition fees. For many years, law schools have faced a funding crisis because of inadequate government grants. Their response has been to increase up-front tuition fees. Such fees affect the accessibility of legal education for lower-income applicants, and impose other severe burdens on students. This article proposes a new model: post-graduation tuition fees contingent upon the income earned by the graduate.

This novel approach would not look to government to increase its subsidies, but would look to students to contribute a larger share. Income-contingent tuition fees are similar to income-contingent loans in that the extent of obligation varies with level of income. But they are different in that the financial partner is the university, not the government, and the student does not owe debt or pay interest. For students, this is a risk-free approach that reduces the economic disincentives to attend law school. For law schools, it would provide a source of income that is more secure, predictable, and generous than current sources. Law schools would be investing in the future professional success of their graduates, and students would be more likely to make career choices that were not motivated by the need to repay massive debt after graduation.

Keywords: Tuition fees, legal education, funding, accessibility, law schools, student debt

JEL Classification: I20, I22

Suggested Citation

Pardy, Bruce, Poor Students, Well-Paid Lawyers: Post-Graduation Income-Contingent Tuition Fees for Law Schools. Queen's Law Journal, Vol. 29, No. 2, p. 848, Spring 2004. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=548861

Bruce Pardy (Contact Author)

Queen's University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Macdonald Hall
Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6
613-533-6000 Ext. 77570 (Phone)
613-533-6509 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://law.queensu.ca/facultyAndStaff/facultyDirectory/pardy.html.htm

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