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Annual law school tuition increases of between 3% and 10% are usually a given, but at least three schools have announced tuition freezes for the coming academic year. The University of Maryland School of Law committed in December to holding the line on tuition costs. Ave Maria School of Law followed in early February and University of New Hampshire School of Law Dean John Broderick announced on Feb. 22 that his school would freeze tuition. The University of Miami School of Law froze tuition this year and will again keep tuition the same at $37,418 for all current students next academic year. Incoming students will pay an additional $1,500 in tuition. “The decision to hold the line on tuition increases is a significant step toward improving the value proposition of law school in these challenging times,” Broderick said. “Given the current economic climate and the debt loads that law school graduates are facing, a tuition freeze is one very tangible way to demonstrate commitment to our students.” Tuition at Broderick’s school — which was formerly known as Franklin Pierce Law Center but is now affiliated with the University of New Hampshire — is $39,900 per year. The governing board of the law school is separate from the governing board of the University of New Hampshire, which voted last week to increase tuition nearly 6% for in-state students and nearly 4% for out-of-state students during the 2011-12 academic year. At Ave Maria, a Roman Catholic school in Naples, Fla., freezing tuition has been a longstanding goal, said spokesman John Knowles. Since moving to Florida from Michigan in 2009, the school has received more applications and students are staying enrolled, said Knowles. He noted that many students transferred out when the location of the school was in flux and private donations increase significantly during the past year. Annual tuition is $35,948. “This is the first time we’ve frozen tuition in recent memory,” Knowles said. Perhaps the biggest coup was at Maryland, where law Dean Phoebe Haddon lobbied to exempt the law school when the university’s Board of Regents approved average increases of 4% for other academic programs. The law school will tap into its short-term savings to fill the gap left by the tuition freeze. Tuition at Maryland is $23,744 for in-state students and $35,023 for out-of-state students. “Holding tuition at the current level in the upcoming academic year has been a top priority for me,” Haddon wrote in a message to students. “The impact of the economic downturn on the legal employment market, combined with the large amount of debt many of you carry, has caused the faculty and administrators of the law school great concern.” Tuition freezes are unlikely to become the norm, however. Some law schools have already announced tuition increases for the coming year. For example, Stanford Law School students will pay nearly 6% more in tuition — more than the 3.5% increase at the rest of the university. Law students at Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School will pay 3% more in tuition next year. Tuition at Cornell Law School will increase by nearly 4%. Karen Sloan can be contacted at [email protected].

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