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Sharp Increase in Public Law School Tuition

Sharp Increase in Public Law School Tuition

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but it still sucks. While the definitive numbers aren’t yet in from the American Bar Association, many public schools are reporting substantial increases in law school tuition, according to The National Law Journal.

For instance, in-state law students at Indiana University will pay nearly 25% more in tuition. UC Davis has raised tuition by 19% for California residents and 10% for nonresidents. At the University of Texas, tuition has been increased by 16% and 11% for resident and nonresident students, respectively. To compare, the average increase in public law school tuition for the 2008-2009 school year was 9% for residents and 6% for nonresidents.

With endowments shrinking in the recessive economy, it’s not surprising that tuitions, always on the rise, are jumping more quickly. Besides depression, what does this mean for students currently studying for the LSAT?

Study like mad.

Here’s why. If you have a 3.9 and an LSAT score in the 99th percentile, you’ll probably be accepted to one of the top 5 schools: Harvard, Yale, Stanford, NYU, Columbia. Which means that one of the top 15 schools: Georgetown, UCLA, Duke, Michigan, etc. who are competing for the best students will likely offer you admission plus some form of scholarship. Going even lower down the ranks can result in even more money.

As an example, we know a student who was accepted to UCLA and USC (ranked 15th and 18th this year) with little or no scholarship assistance. The student ended up attending Loyola Marymount University (ranked 71st) with a full scholarship. Another student we know was accepted to law school at the University of Texas (15) and offered a full scholarship to the University of San Diego Law School (61).

This is true of lower-ranked law schools as well. We know a student who was accepted to Pepperdine (55) and Loyola Marymount University (71) but ended up attending Chapman University (Tier 3) with a full ride.

In order to take advantage of this phenomenon, you need to be the kind of student that law schools want to recruit. For many law schools, this includes a high academic index (some amalgamation of your LSAT score and GPA). Because the LSAT can be predictive of a student’s performance in law school, a high LSAT score is a good indicator of your likely success at a law school. Add in the fact that a student pool with collective high LSAT scores can also help boost a school’s US New & World Report ranking, and suddenly you can begin to see why a recruit-worthy application begins with a great LSAT score.

So study hard, kill the test, and by parlaying a great application into great financial offers, you may not have to worry about tuition increases at all.