Most law schools say their tuition discount practices are not sustainable long term, according to survey results released Thursday from 36 schools.
The results, based on feedback from U.S.-based private nonprofit law schools, show slightly less than half of the survey respondents said their tuition discounting practices are sustainable in the long term.
The surveyed schools also reported that as tuition discounting increased between 2015 and 2016, a slight decline in net tuition revenue followed.
In general, law schools offer tuition discounts as a way to entice strong applicants and to compete for those students.
The study was sponsored by: the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), nonprofit professional organization representing chief administrative and financial officers at more than 1,900 colleges and universities across the country; and AccessLex Institute, a nonprofit organization that does business also as AccessGroup. According to its website, Access Group ceased making loans in 2010 due to legislative action that eliminated the federally guaranteed student loan program, but it continues to service the loans it made prior to that change.
With the survey results, the researchers divided participating law schools into two groups: high and low tuition. The tuition discount at high tuition law schools increased from 33 percent from the fall of 2015 to 38 percent in the same time period in 2016. During the same interval, low tuition law schools experienced an increase from 37 percent to 39 percent, according to the report.
In their press release about the study, the two organizations noted its limitations. “Although the sample size of the survey precludes generalization to all private law schools, the data provide a glimpse into legal education discounting practices, and their potential implications for schools and students,” the release said. . Ken Redd, the director of research and policy analysis at NABUCO, who worked on the survey report, cast a glass-half-full account of its results. “There is a concern about borrowing and cost. But there are still a good number of law schools that have demonstrated able to attract and retain new students who are able to obtain jobs,” Redd said.