For better or worse — and many law professors say for worse — the U.S. News and World Report rankings carry big weight with law school applicants.
But that emphasis ends up costing students more.
According to a report issued by the Government Accountability Office (embedded below), “the move to a more hand-on, resource-intensive approach to legal education and competition among schools for higher rankings appear to be the main factors driving the cost of law school,” the report says.
Specific actions schools take to increase rankings include (from pgs. 19-20):
- Strive for lower student/professor ratios
- Offer clinics and diverse elective courses
- Attract top faculty members, who require higher salaries
These are of course good things, but, since 1994, tuition has increased 7.2% for in-state public universities and 3.8% for private universities. In 2008, the report says, six public law schools reported resident tuition and fees of more than $30,000.
As the ABA Journal notes, the average debt for graduates of public law schools rose from $50,000 to $71,436. For private law schools, the average debt has risen from $75,000 in 2001-02 to $91,506 in 2007-08.
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