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September 20, 2013

Tuition tide

by Dan Rodriguez

The high cost of legal education is a significant problem, as has now become rather obvious, and we at Northwestern have undertaken some constructive steps to address this problem.  One of these steps is to limit significantly our annual tuition increases.  The aim is to limit any increase to the level of inflation. We have kept to this commitment for two years running, with tuition increases at the 3% level last year and this year.

Naturally, context matters.  And it is useful to see our tuition strategy in light of what other peer schools are doing meanwhile.

Looking at the currently available data, I can report that our tuition, which includes tuition and fees, increases have been the second lowest (higher only than Yale) over both a one-year and two-year period.  Increases among the top dozen private law schools have ranged from Yale’s low of 4% to U. Chicago’s at the highest end, with an increase of 11.8% over two years.  A couple law schools have increased tuition and fees by at least 9% over this period.  Only Stanford and Northwestern are in the 6% range (SLS is 6.8%).

This is not earth-shattering news; and these tuition strategies illustrate just one step toward curtailing the high costs of legal education.  But I do think it is important to see our efforts both in the local context of what are we doing for our students and also what this looks like in the shadow of our competitors.

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