Monday, July 30, 2012

A tower room at Eden Roc

The new ABA/LSAC Guide to prospective students is out, and it's chock full of fascinating tidbits of information. (The data listed for each school is for the 2011-12 academic year).  

Today I'm going to focus on what the guide reveals regarding advertised versus real tuition.  The guide lists not only the sticker price tuition for each school, but also the percentage of JD students receiving grants, and the median size of those grants.  Although the listing of the mean tuition discount would allow the real tuition students are paying to be calculated precisely, a median is close enough for government work.

For example, suppose the Versatile Degree law school charges $45,000 in nominal tuition, but gives 50% of its students grants, with the median size of those grants being $10,000.  This means we can estimate that the real average tuition at VD is $40,000 (half the students are paying $45K, while the other half are paying an average -- roughly -- of $35K).

Let's see what this information reveals about law schools in the New York City area. There's a passle of them, and with the exception of CUNY they all charge fairly similar nominal tuition.  But the differences in real tuition are striking.  (All the figures below are  for full-time JD students. Almost all NYC law schools have part-time programs. Far fewer part-time students get grant money compared to full-time students).

Consider Brooklyn, Cardozo, Fordham, and NYLS.  These four schools charged almost exactly the same nominal tuition last year, ranging from $47,800, to $48,441.

Here's what the real average estimated tuition was at these schools:

Fordham:  $44,150

NYLS:  $43,596

Cardozo:  $33.020

Brooklyn:  $27,725

Fordham thinks well enough of itself that it offers very little in the way of "scholarships," and actually ends up costing more for its students than NYU (which charged more than $50K in nominal tuition last year, but discounted that by approximately 14% via grants, to $43,290).

Meanwhile Brooklyn and Cardozo engage in massive discounting off sticker. Brooklyn gives 81.4% of its full-time students grants,  with the median grant being $25,432. (The comparable numbers for Cardozo are 59.6% and $25,000).

As for NYLS what can one say?  It's an enormous school -- 1765 JD students last year -- with horrible employment statistics, which in real terms is charging its students more than what NYU students pay for a law degree.  A law degree from NYLS costs the average student currently attending around $210,000 in direct costs alone -- a figure that will swell to nearly $250,000 if it's debt financed. 

Here are the numbers for all NYC area schools:

Advertised tuition: $48,441
Real average tuition:   $27,725
Average discount on sticker:  42.8%

Advertised tuition:  $48,370
Real average tuition:  $33,020
Average discount on sticker: 31.7%

Advertised tuition: $52,902
Real tuition:   $46,500
Average discount on sticker:  12.1%

Advertised tuition:  $12,207/$19,157
Real tuition:  $11,983/$18,931
Average discount on sticker:  1.8%

Advertised tuition: $47,986
Real tuition:  $44,150
Average discount on sticker: 8%

Advertised tuition:  $45,600
Real tuition:   $35,002
Average discount:  23.2%

Advertised tuition: $50,336
Real tuition: $43,290
Average discount: 14%

Advertised tuition:  $47,800
Real average tuition:  $43,596
Average discount: 8.8%

Advertised tuition:  $40,978
Real tuition:   $31,370
Average discount: 23.4%

St. John’s 
Advertised tuition: $46,450
Real tuition:   $32,350
Average discount:  30.4%

Advertised tuition: $41,890
Real tuition:  $37,330
Average discount: 10.9%

Of course all these numbers combine the tuition discounts offered to three different classes.  It will be interesting to find out what the entering 1L classes at these schools pay this year. For example I would expect that the real tuition paid by Brooklyn and Cardozo 1Ls this year will be quite a bit less than half of advertised sticker.   NYLS and Touro -- at least -- simply need to go out of business immediately if not sooner.

There's much more to be dug out of the Guide, and I hope some readers will take the initiative to turn up some nuggets of their own.


  1. FIRST COMMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Thank you for posting the link to this guide. At those "discounted" rates, those commodes are still too damn expensive - especially when one takes job placement rates into account. Why incur an additional $110K-$170K in non-dischargeable debt, for a chance to be a doc review chimp?

  3. Somebody take care of this:

    I can't, Im too busy today.

  4. If Touro goes out of business, Mindy Meyer can't say she's in law school, and won't be able to run for office.

  5. What kind of an idiot would pay $37,000 (+opportunity costs) to attend Touro? Nobody that retarded should be allowed to call him/herself a lawyer.

  6. I paid sticker at Brooklyn so I could subsidize all the scholarship kids that transferred after the first year. FML.

  7. I think it's a positive sign that 0Ls now ask questions regarding cost, debt, and employment. The conventional wisdom is changing, which is a very good thing. Without GRAD Plus, many of these schools would close.

  8. OK, if I did this right (it's still a little early here):

    Harvard Law School

    Advertised tuition: $48,786

    Real tuition: $38,933

    Average discount: 20%

  9. AtheistATLLawyerJuly 30, 2012 at 8:18 AM

    But how are worthless law professors going to "legally" commit fraud on the U.S. Gov't by using students as mere vessels to funnel student loan money?

    Pretty nice fucking $y$tem these criminals have setup for themselves.

    1. Including the writer of this article LOL

  10. Puzzling Eden Roc reference in the title?

  11. LawProf,

    Thanks for all the great information. I am a graduate of a "t14" from two years ago who hasn't been able to find paying work as an attorney. I know that my situation is not unusual among my classmates (it is not the majority but it is a significant number). Anyway, have you discussed this?

    Just saw it and would like to hear your thoughts. Thanks.

  12. From what I see in this chart, the only NYC schools worth attending (without a full scholoarship) are Columbia, NYU and perhaps Fordham. CUNY is OK if you want to go into "public service" (though it's hard to see, on the kinds of salaries paid in that area, how one could finance even a CUNY-sized debt)and Cardozo (Yeshiva University) if you are an Orthodox Jew or have connections to that commuity. The rest really should go out of business.

    What people often forget is that NYC firms don't hire from NYC law schools, except for Columbia NYU and sometimes Fordham. Otherwise, they look to HYS and their sattelites. And even the DA's offices aren't hiring from the likes of St. John's, as they did until recently. Now, with the glut of JDs, those offices have their pick of graduates from the best schools.

  13. @8:36AM

    Fordham is not worth it. I know 5 people, 1 who owes $260K in student loans, who are not working as lawyers.

    On a related subject, I think LawProf should highlight how some schools accept marginal candidates knowing said people will never practice law (e.g., John Koch aka JD painter). I mean, once you are placed on academic probation for having less than a 2.5GPA you should be kicked out instead of being put in fluff courses to boost your GPA. This is the dispicable conduct that some schools engage in.

  14. The median grant at Northeastern of $8,500 is basically the same as the median grant of ten years ago. The cost of attendance has increased radically in those ten years. 4 of 184 found legal jobs with law firms of >100 lawyers last year. There it is.

  15. How do you move from being one of the chumps paying sticker to one of the chumps with a discount? Threaten to withdraw?

  16. Hofstra should also go out of business. It has the worst reputation among NYC schools with employers.

  17. Suffolk (f/t only) (USNWR #135)

    Advertised tuition: $42,660

    Real tuition: $34,860

    Average discount: 18%

  18. Widener (Delaware) (f/t only) (USNWR TTTT)

    Advertised tuition: $36,450

    Real tuition: $35,469

    Average discount: 3%

  19. Law Prof
    Why dont you concentrate more on your School and talk about what a scam they are to attend or you cant because you still take a paycheck from them and they still contribute to your pension. I would love to see the Univ of Col talked about more

  20. Northeastern (USNWR #76)

    Advertised tuition: $42,296

    Real tuition: $35,071

    Average discount: 21%

  21. I might just be thick today but I'm not sure what the takeaway from today's post is.

    Side note, I would be interested in an update to other posts regarding cost of attendance relative to inflation taking into account what the median grant/actual tuition. I like those posts, always very interesting information.

  22. Good question 9:00:

    "How do you move from being one of the chumps paying sticker to one of the chumps with a discount? Threaten to withdraw?"

    Any thoughts? I went to the best law school I could get into (Top 20). Unfortunately if I try to 'transfer down' now the likelihood of a scholarship at a school which would have given me one as a new applicant is low.

    Yet another downside of USNWR's policy of only using new applicants' (and not transfer applicants') LSATs in the rankings...

  23. 9:23,
    Why do you say that? If a TTT needs more bodies to fill seats it makes sense for them to charge you marginal cost + a small %. Why not try calling a few to find out?

  24. Boston College (USNWR #29)

    Advertised tuition: $41,818

    Real tuition: $32,458

    Average discount: 29%

  25. fat guy - I think part of the purpose is that there has been a little haze over the information in regard to real tuition. When conjecturing how much of a rip off law school actually is, most analysis has used the stated tuition amount instead of what the average law student ends up paying. This data is helpful to the extent we now get a better handle of projected costs verse projected benefit.

  26. Am.U. (D.C.) (USNWR #49)

    Advertised tuition: $45,096

    Real tuition: $41,296

    Average discount: 9%

  27. Georgetown (f/t only) (USNWR #13)

    Advertised tuition: $46,865

    Real tuition: $36,125

    Average discount: 23%

  28. 9:32 here again, I should add that, like much of our economy, benefits of the system concentrate fiercely on a small group. So that average expenses actually paid may not give a clearer picture of the issue facing many graduates. Because those that received the discounts will most likely be less economically damaged upon graduation and more likely to be the few that garner full time, long term, JD required employment, using the discount may actually dilute the formula needed to illustrate just how bad the lower 50% of almost every law school class has it. (And of course probably even more than that figure) Not that the victor shouldn't retain their spoils, just that as a policy matter it isn't good to have such severely punished losers, especially only so that the generals can continue to watch from afar and eat their cake.

  29. I don't see what the purpose of this post is. If x% get $x grants, it's b/c of the students' individual situations. I don't see how "real" tuition is meaningfully reflective of the real cost of tuition.

  30. Geo. Washington (USNWR #20)

    Advertised tuition: $45,750

    Real tuition: $38,601

    Average discount: 16%

  31. 9:03 -- You must not be counting Touro, Pace, NYLS or CUNY.

  32. One value of this is that it gives you a better idea of which schools are ripping off their students more.

  33. Catholic U. (USNWR #82)

    Advertised tuition: $41,995

    Real tuition: $36,245

    Average discount: 14%

  34. The average discount could also be seen as an indicator of the extent to which the slow kids are subsidizing the education of the cool kids.

  35. From Law Profs School Univ of CO:

    Most students borrow to pay for law school. Students in the class of 2011 who borrowed, graduated with an average of $78,894 in law school loan debt. We at Colorado Law are committed to making our students' educations affordable, including through our Loan Repayment Assistance Program, which provides loan repayment assistance to many qualifying graduates working in public service. Our Office of Admissions and Financial Aid is available to discuss these options with prospective students.


  36. It's funny that the rap on socialized managed economies is that the government planners determine how many of each kind of jobs are needed for the economy and only allow that many people to be trained so as to maximize human resources but crushing dreams in the process. Would that really be so bad?!?

  37. Some dreams should be crushed.

  38. 10:22,
    Isn't that from last year?

  39. 9:32,
    I agree the data is useful in more accurately assessing how much the cost of law school tuition has risen over the years.

  40. 10:15:

    That's not the rap on socialized economies at all...

    In planned economies, the government tries to guess how many products are needed and produces said products itself.

    In our (vastly superior) economy, the market determines how many products are needed. We don't need any more lawyers, that's why they can't find jobs.

  41. 9:49. Yes, I am. Ash any lawyer in New York. Hofstra has the worst reputation, even worse than Touro or NYLS. "As an attorney practicing in the NY area that did not attend a "top" law school, I can tell you that Hofstra is possibly the longest running joke in the New York legal community. Its objectively better than Pace and Touro (also dog-shit law schools), yet somehow, Hofstra remains a better punch line than either of those other shit-piles. The students are sub-par. The attorneys that graduate are mediocre. The bar pass rate fluctuates between "average" and absolutely pitiful to the one of the worst in New York State (depending on the year in question). This is all before you even get to the guido jokes, which trust me, if you are attending Hofstra, those jokes will become a way of life for you..." from

  42. I know this is a touchy topic, but Touro had a program called the LEAP program. It was well intentioned I guess, and was designed to help disadvantaged minority students.

    The LEAP program had a private orientation a week before the regular orientation, and when I started the first year the front two rows were filled with the same leap program students in every class of my section.

    Most were gone after the first year and those that remained sat in different areas of the classroom.

    I guess they were told that it is always best to sit in the front row and to participate or whatever.

    BTW, I would appreciate it if you do not talk about painterguy anymore. He has agreed to stop commenting here so as not to possibly harm the cause.

    He has now turned on trying to find a way to have a reasonable settlement on his quadrupled SL debt. That is the only hope for him and probably most of us. There is no way these debts are going to be forgiven outright.

    The best we can hope for is a settlement and a moratorium on the interest.


  44. Widener used to (and maybe still does?) have something very similar to the LEAP program. It's one of those things that looks nice on paper but in practice is just another way to fleece students who have no realistic hope of completing law school + passing the bar + getting jobs as lawyers.

  45. A settlement on student loans?

    Here is one tip of advice for you: The underground economy.

    Just work in the underground economy. The shitty gov't can't touch you then.

    Every single student should default and turn this $y$tem on its head.

  46. On NPR's Talk of the Nation right now: "Baby boomers, what do you owe the next generation?"

  47. I think the better way to look at this is not from the viewpoint of a discount but from the viewpoint of a higher price or penalty. Most students are paying a higher price so that a few students (with higher LSAT and GPA scores) can pay less. Most of the students are paying a penalty in a vain attempt for the school to move up in the US News. Students pay for other students' scholarships through higher tuition. Oh yeah, and, the University gets their 30% cut to pay for the art department.

  48. Is there a writeup of the NPR piece? or a place that we can listen in online?

  49. 11:53, check your local affiliate's website for a live streaming link. They are discussing this article:

  50. Yes, two of the LEAP program participants were in my study group. One guy did not make it past the first year and was very stressed. The other man graduated and passed the bar.

    Another man I recall, took his entire first year over.

    I have often wondered if the ones that did not make it past the first year were stuck holding debt.

    It was sad in a lot of ways, because a few of the students were eager participants and must have been disappointed. I wonder if that program caused more harm than good for many.

    The waste of year is a given.

  51. Wisconsin (ranked 35 per US News)

    Resident—full-time $19,683
    Nonresident—full-time $38,811

    Median grant: 10k
    Percent receiving: 39.7%
    Average discount: $3970

    Real tuition Resident: $15 713
    Real tuition Nonresident: $34841

  52. Wisconsin's law school can be a gold mine for the University depending on how many non-residents it admits.

    Plus, part time students don't get any ehlp.

  53. @ 10:27 am

    Yes, it's from last year, but it's worth a read to see

    a) how pissed and vindictive Dean Leitner is; and
    b) how his only "argument" is based on the amount of "research" Prof. Campus and other professors do.

    It's always worthwhile to know one's enemy.

  54. Does Leitner still attack lawprof? I would think that he is choosing his words awfully carefully now that the whole charade is starting to crumble.

  55. So, real tuition x number of students = the approximate gate?

    Hofstra, for example = 945 x $35,002 = $33,076,890

  56. 2:29- yeah, i'm pretty sure that's accurate, more less. however, you have to go back year on year to see what percentage of the class got aid, and what the aid package would be in the coming year (i.e. is it a straight dollar amount, is it a percentage of tuition, etc...). your calculation is fine if you just want to know what 1Ls paid. although i'm sure, year on year, it's roughly accurate. in fact, schools probably get more and more each year, as stips kick in, transfers come in paying full boat, "unavoidable" 5% tuition hikes factor in, etc...

  57. @ 2:13 & 2:23

    Leiter REALLY hates being called "Leitner." So feel free to keep doing it.

    (Don't know how Lawprof feels about being called "Prof. Campus" either.)

  58. I wonder how these prices would compare to a private kindergarten in Manhattan? Their sticker prices are reaching $40,000, but I am not sure what sort of scholarships they offer.

    in other cities, I do not think law schools charge less than kindergarten.

  59. See: How for-profit schools get rich

    The federal report that is cited in the article is an absolute gold mine of information regarding the education scam in general.

  60. @ 3:55 PM

    From that article: Nonetheless, the report does argue that “for-profit colleges have an important role to play in higher education” because “the existing capacity of nonprofit and public higher education is insufficient to satisfy the growing demand for higher education, particularly in an era of drastic cutbacks in State funding for higher education.”

    Gee, I have a crazy idea. Why not take the money that goes to these scammers in the form of federal student loans and use it instead to expand the community college system?

  61. 4:30
    Socialize education? What could you be thinking??!!

  62. @ 4:41 PM

    I lost my head for a moment there. Thanks for bring me back to my senses. Now I'll finish writing out that check to Mittens' campaign.

  63. @ 3:17

    Mea culpa. That's what I get for not referring back to check on spelling.

    Of course, if we had an edit feature here . . . .

  64. "Leiter REALLY hates being called "Leitner."

    That's BUZZ LEITNER to you, Bub.

  65. @7:18, who writes, "Somebody take care of this:"

    Not sure what you mean by "take care of" it. Seems like a solidly reasoned article, although I'm probably not equipped to vouch for the Vandy-Prof's math methodologies.

  66. @5:35
    I read the article and it seemed okay, but the very first comment was complete lies.

  67. "NYLS and Touro -- at least -- simply need to go out of business immediately if not sooner."

    The stats just mean demand for NYLS and Touro spots is more inelastic than for the others. In a weird way, that may suggest those schools are healthy financially. Cf. Apple.

  68. The stats just mean demand for NYLS and Touro spots is more inelastic than for the others.

    I don't think that is accurate. It is likely more a statement about the discounts that NYLS is able to offer given its business model, not what they are willing to offer given the demand.

    If they could discount and still have a functional business model, they likely would to attract higher quality candidates and increase their ranking.

  69. Demand for any good would be inelastic when funded by guaranteed loans.

  70. 8:44 (yesterday)--Thanks for the info. I based what I said mainly on the fact that my ex, who attended Fordham more than a decade ago, is doing well and works with a number of Fordham JDs. Then again, the tuition was much lower and the company for which my ex worked reimbursed it.

    So now I guess it's down to Columbia and NYU, although I've heard debates on just how good the latter school actually is.

    On a related note: Prospective students are starting to get the message, so schools like Touro and Hofstra may be in trouble. Ditto for Pace and St. John's. However, I think it will be a while before NYLS, as bad as it is, closes: They are a stand-alone school and the administrators will do everything they can to keep it open. Perhaps they will seek a merger in spite of the fact that, as I pointed out in one of my blog posts, such unions usually don't work out very well.


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