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 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%
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.