The University of Iowa College of Law is the latest law school to slash tuition amid declining enrollment.

University officials on Dec. 4 approved a 16.4 percent tuition cut. Iowa residents next year will pay $21,965 in tuition—a $4,309 reduction—and the reduced tuition will apply to both current and new students. Nonresidents who enroll next fall will see tuition fall by $7,750 to $39,500.

Though the tuition cut doesn’t apply to current nonresident students, law dean Gail Agrawal said the school plans to use private scholarship funds to help bring their costs in line with the lower tuition that new students will pay next year.

University leaders had initially proposed cutting nonresident tuition and raising in-state tuition slightly, but ultimately decided to extend the tuition cut to Iowans as well.

The cuts come at a time when the law school’s enrollment is at its lowest in recent memory. This year’s incoming class fell to 94 from 155 in 2012, and new student enrollment has declined nearly 54 percent since 2010. Iowa is the only public law school in the state, but it has struggled with waning interest from Iowa residents.

“Although [the law school] has continued to attract a pool of well-qualified candidates, the numbers of highly qualified applicants and the incoming class size have been adversely affected by national and regional trends, including the significant reduction in Iowa resident law applicants in the past two years,” according to a report prepared for the Board of Regents.

Only 173 Iowans applied during the last admissions cycle, down nearly 40 percent from a high of 287 in 2010, the report states. Applications from prospective students outside Iowa have fallen even faster than the nationwide decline, it adds.

Agrawal said the school has opted to bring in fewer new students rather than loosen up its admissions standards in a bid to bring in more students.

But she acknowledged that the tuition reduction is intended in part to help the law school better compete for applicants and students, who are increasingly concerned with cost and debt loads.

“The University of Iowa College of Law has long been recognized as providing high quality for an affordable price,” Agrawal said. “We want to take a leading role in the evolving face of legal education and ensure our place as a best value proposition among the top public law schools.”

The tuition cut for nonresident students is expected to result in a $310,000 loss in revenue, but that loss should be offset by resulting enrollment growth, the regent’s report notes.

Iowa isn’t the first law school to cut costs as applications nationwide have plummeted.

Last week, the Pennsylvania State University Dickinson School of Law announced it will offer $20,000 annual tuition grants to all admitted Pennsylvania residents starting next fall. That grant will cut tuition costs almost in half for recipients. The school has also seen enrollment tumble, particularly at its campus in Carlisle, Pa. It maintains a second campus in University Park, Pa.

The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, the University of Akron School of Law, the University of Cincinnati College of Law, and Ohio Northern University Pettit College of Law also have announced tuition cuts in the past year.

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