Taking the Law School Admission Test is getting more expensive.
The Law School Admission Council, which administers the test, has raised the testing fee from $139 to $160 — a 15 percent increase.
A significant decline in LSAT test takers in recent years prompted the increase for the 2012-13 testing cycle, Daniel Bernstine, the council’s president, announced in a newsletter. The council typically raises the fee in line with inflation, with the annual increases during the past 10 years falling between 2 percent and 5 percent.
“It is now time for us to correct our fees in light of new volume realities, and to align them more closely with the true value of those services to law schools and their applicants,” Bernstine wrote. “We sincerely hope that this will be the only correction to our candidate-fee levels, and that the ‘new normal’ will identify itself in the next couple of years.”
The new testing fees will apply to the June 11 administration of the LSAT.
The number of tests administered peaked during the 2009-10 cycle at 171,514. It fell by nearly 10 percent the following year, and by another 16 percent during the 2011-12 cycle.
The LSAT fee isn’t the only cost going up. The cost to applicants of using the council’s Credential Assembly Service, a centralized system that allows law school applicants to easily apply to a number of schools, is going from $124 to $155 — a 20 percent increase. Past increases have ranged from zero to 3 percent.
Additionally, applicants will pay $21 for each school applied to — an increase from the current $16.
Council administrators said that the level of service provided to applicants has grown over time — making the process more convenient and worth the extra money.
According to Bernstine, the council has been able to keep fee increases modest until now in part because of the high volume of LSAT takers during the second half of the 2000s. At the same time, the council has expanded its services, while some of the costs for law schools to attend meetings and workshops have gone down.
Additionally, the council waived $3.4 million in fees last year for applicants who could not pay for the LSAT and the credential service.
“This mode of doing business probably was sustainable in an environment of record-level candidate volumes,” Bernstine wrote. “Today, with successive double-digit volume declines and significant operating deficits, it’s sustainable no longer.”
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