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Two U.S. senators — Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) — have asked the U.S. Department of Education to compile 10 years’ worth of data about law schools, focusing on key points including tuition, student debt and job placement rates. Earlier, both Boxer and U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) asked the American Bar Association to provide detailed information about law school merit scholarships, student loans and additional matters. Since May, Boxer and Grassley have been expressing concern about reports that law schools were inflating their graduate job data; the rising cost of legal education; and the number of students who lose their merit scholarships. Both senators have separately expressed frustration with the ABA’s responses to their queries. Boxer and Coburn wrote to department Inspector General Kathleen Tighe on Oct. 13 asking for an investigation to help Congress better prepare for a possible review of the Higher Education Act, which among other provisions governs federal student loans. The department should focus “on the confluence of growing enrollments, steadily increasing tuition rates and allegedly sluggish job placement,” they wrote. The letter requests a decade’s worth of information in six specific areas: • National law school enrollment and enrollment at public, private and for-profit law schools. • Law school tuition levels and fees. • The so-called law school “tax,” which is the amount of law school-generated funds used by universities for non-law school purposes. • The federal and private student loan debt carried by law school graduates. • Law school graduation and bar passage rates. • Law graduate job placement rates, including the percentage of full-time and part-time jobs and the percentage of graduates in jobs that require a J.D. Some of that information — including tuition, debt and bar passage rates — is already tracked closely by the ABA, at least for schools that are ABA-accredited. Some of the requested information may prove difficult to compile, including the use of law school-generated funds on non-law school purposes. A special committee at the University of Baltimore recently spent two months attempting to compare the funding breakdowns at nine other law schools, only to abandon the exercise because the panel could find no way to produce an apples-to-apples comparison. Each university accounted for costs in slightly different ways, the committee said, making it impossible to draw a clear picture. Karen Sloan can be contacted at [email protected].

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