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Author Topic: Rising School Cost does the ABA regulate at all?  (Read 1029 times)

bigs5068

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Rising School Cost does the ABA regulate at all?
« on: January 18, 2011, 03:14:57 PM »
I was just looking through LSAC archives of schools and noticed since 2007 every school I looked at has increased their tuition by 5,000 to 10,000 dollars. From Franklin Pierce to George Washington I probably looked at 15 schools and every single one's tuition went up 5-10k.  In 2007 it seems like most schools were in the 25k range and now they are all 35k annually. That is an increase of roughly 30% in 4 years and I wanted to know if the ABA regulates tuition increases at all. I tried a quick google search to find the answer, but that as far as I am willing to go? Does anyone know if there is tuition increase form or something schools are required to fill out. I imagine these increases are a big reason for the disgruntled graduate I mean they have just increased fees by 30% over 4 years. I remember seeing Santa Clara when I was in undergrad in 2007 and thinking the campus was pretty nice. The tuition then was 31k and now it is 36K I visited it last year and nothing had changed from 2007 and I just wanted to know how they justify such an increase and if there is anyone regulating these increases at all?

BikePilot

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Re: Rising School Cost does the ABA regulate at all?
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2011, 09:54:06 AM »
As far as I'm aware they ABA doesn't directly regulate cost.  I suspect that the ABA's standards (library book requirements etc) are a large cost driver.  I have been told that for smaller and/or newer law schools, just maintaining the books required by the ABA and USNWR (effectively) is one of the largest expenses. I suspect that less ABA involvement would result in more competition between law schools and better value for the students. 
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bigs5068

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Re: Rising School Cost does the ABA regulate at all?
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2011, 11:16:03 AM »
That interesting I noticed every school was spending approximately 1 million library resources annually. There are quite a few books and new volumes etc, but I don't know what the point of many of them are with Lexis & Westlaw. Some of the practice guides etc are good to have in hardcover, but to have every single ABA schools law review on file and every states appellate decisions seems like a bit much.

If the ABA does not regulate cost it should start. The prices are becoming so outrageous with all the budget talks etc I am surprised congress has not looked into tuition increases in schools. How much federal money is going into every type of institution annually. In San Francisco we have the Academy of Art, which is everywhere and it is more expensive than law school with even worse job prospects. However, people can obtain loans through the government to attend and they just keep jacking up their cost. I hate that any university can just jack up costs without any basis. GGU could announce tomorrow that they are going to increase tuition by 15k a year. If they did that I could not do anything about it and be forced to pay them. I could quit 2 years into a law degree and have nothing to show for it. I might be able to transfer, but I don't think a 3L can do that. It just aggravates me how all schools in every field just arbitrarily jack up tuition. I thought the ABA would have more regulations than other fields, but after looking at the archives it appears I was mistaken :'(

haus

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Re: Rising School Cost does the ABA regulate at all?
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2011, 11:55:06 AM »
bigs,

You raise a good point about the volatility of pricing. As someone who thinks that law school might be in my future, I am alarmed at the price changes I have observed in the last 5-10 years. In the two likely areas that I would consider going to school, DC & Connecticut, there are several schools that offer part-time programs, but few of them are are inexpensive. George Mason cost roughly 15k/year for PT tuition (in-state), GW will set you back 33k, Georgetown, for those that get 39k, Quinnipiac 29k. And this is just the starting point, in some ways it is hard to predict the future, but I will bet $5 right now, that every single one of the school I mentioned will cost more in 5 years then they do now.

Given the relative lack of flexibility in the study of law, you are left with the choice of taking a chance when you pick a school and hope that the really bad tuition increases do not happen during your time. The relative bargain is often the state/government sponsored schools (UConn $14k (in-state), UDC $11k (out of district)), but given the budget problems being reported by nearly every state and city it seems that the amount of financial support given to public schools is not going to increase, and could potentially fall on short notice, leaving those who are part way through their respective programs holding the bag.

If nothing else, I would like to see some form tuition protection for those who are locked into a specific program, or at least realistic numbers explaining what they are facing for the expected duration of their studies.

(all cost numbers referring to PT programs)

bigs5068

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Re: Rising School Cost does the ABA regulate at all?
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2011, 12:29:34 PM »
Yea they are outrageous really. I just don't see the money going to anything. For example in our news our school just received a 500K donation, but what will that go towards? That is a lot of money and GGU is a 6 story building and there plenty of things that could be changed with 500k. We got some framed pictures around the library, but considering many students are giving them 30k a year they probably could have afford that before.

I would just honestly love to see a breakdown of what the money goes towards. Maybe it really is that expensive to run a school, but there are roughly 550+ students at my school. Each paying 30k granted scholarships take some of that away, but I believe it is somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 million annually in tuition. The school is good in my opinion, but not 15 million dollars a year good. Then I what really bugs me is they call themselves a "non-profit" school. Yet Harvard costs only 10k more a year in tuition and although I never been to Harvard's campus I would bet every cent I have that it is at the very least a bit more aesthetically pleasing than a 6 story building in downtown San Francisco.

haus

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Re: Rising School Cost does the ABA regulate at all?
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2011, 01:11:03 PM »
bigs,

I am currently in Cambridge for a January term course. I am working on my degree through the Harvard Extension School, the campus is indeed interesting. I enjoying walking across the campus and taking in the sights of the classic halls and libraries. Although,I have to admit that I was taken aback by some of the accommodations. As a disclosure I am a fairly bug guy (6'1 and 260lbs), as such I often find the available furniture was not built with someone like me in mind.

This term I am in Emerson Hall, which is primarily used by the Philosophy department. The room that I am in has 35 desk stuffed in it, each of which have the fold down writing surface attached to the frame. The first problem that I have is that the fold down surface is uncomfortably close to me (which is aggravated by the extra layers of clothes I am wearing due to the less then pleasant weather which is fairly normal for this time of year). The second nuisance is that the desk are so close to one another that my solders extend beyond area of my chair and into the area of those in chairs on either side of me. As such I have taken to waiting just before class starts and looking for groups of desk that have been left empty by students who have opted not to show so that I can limit my impact on others personal space.

Last year one of my classes was held in Pound Hall (which is part of the law campus). The room that we were in had long tables in a semi circle (raised by row) all of which were pointed at the professors podium. My problem in this room was that the seats were hard set into the floor in a configuration that was not much different then a bar stool (although the seats did have backs to them). Unfortunately for me they were set so close to the tables that even when I sat with my back up against the back of the chair, the edge of the table would ride into my stomach. This did not make for a comfortable lecture.

Fortunately for me the cost at the Extension School is much lower then the other colleges at the University. Currently it cost roughly $1900 for a 4 credit course, which is not cheap, but it is far less others (for instance a cross over class at the Graduate School for Arts and Science was in the $5k range for a 4 credit course). So despite some occasional discomfort, I am reasonably happy with my experience.

Hamilton

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Re: Rising School Cost does the ABA regulate at all?
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2011, 01:34:02 PM »
I was not aware that library standards were such a driver.  Wonder if/how/when this will change with the etexts, Westlaw/Lexis, and other computer aided/available resources.  Who doesn't do most of their research using Westlaw or something comparable?  About he only time I used the ALR or other books was because it was specifically required as part of the assignment.

haus

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Re: Rising School Cost does the ABA regulate at all?
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2011, 01:41:01 PM »
How much do schools pay (per student) for access to resources such as Westlaw/Lexis? I would imagine that the services are somewhat incentivised to make this affordable to schools as a means of getting students accustomed to this means of research and potentially aide sales down the road.

bigs5068

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Re: Rising School Cost does the ABA regulate at all?
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2011, 03:18:19 PM »
I am thinking that is included in the overall library cost, which is approximately 1 million dollars at every school. It is good to have a functional library and westlaw/lexis access. 1 million seems ok. I imagine it is not that expensive to get students hooked on it, because Lexis/West wants to expose students to these services so they will use them for the next 40 years. Like Apple's ploy back in the 80/s & 90/s giving macs to schools so that later in life they will be more comfortable and familiar with a mac. Lexis/West is probably willing to sacrifice 3 years of relatively cheap service in exchange for someone to use it for the next 40 years.

BikePilot

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Re: Rising School Cost does the ABA regulate at all?
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2011, 10:07:31 AM »
I don't think schools have to pay much if anything for students to have lexis/WL access - the providers want to get students hooked so they'll use their services as lawyers later on.

The problem isn't lack of ABA regulation, but that ABA regulation itself is (in large part) a cause of the high cost.  As best I can tell there's little practical value in a large hard-copy law library and it certainly isn't so critical that the ABA needs to require zillions of books per school.  Cynically, it is just a form of barrier to entry that the established schools want to keep in place to help prevent competition from new entrants.  After all, isn't that how we got ABA accreditation in the first place?

Another option for reducing cost would be to hire professors who can actually teach law and can teach subjects of value to students rather than focusing on hiring faculty for their ability to write law review articles that will get citied by other law faculty members.  The bulk of law faculty member's time is spent writing and researching, not teaching or preparing to teach.  Law students are paying for this and the recent trend in legal academia toward an academic/writing intensive culture and away from a practice-based, teaching culture is exasperating the problem.
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