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Some law schools report increasing enrollment, citing low tuition and attractive financial aid

Posted Sep 5, 2013 8:50 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Some law schools are reporting increasing enrollments even as the number of applicants dropped 12 percent this year.

Some law school officials say their low tuition may have been a factor, the National Law Journal (reg. req.) reports. Others cite new programs and buildings. Some are sweetening financial aid packages, and one acknowledged a lower LSAT standard.

Among the law schools attributing rising numbers at least partly to attractive tuition are the University of Missouri-Kansas City—it charges about $18,000 in-state tuition and saw its first-year class size increase by 15 percent—and the University of Idaho—it charges in-state tuition of less than $16,000 and saw a nearly 8 percent increase in its entering class.

University of Missouri law dean Ellen Suni also said the school’s new Summer Start Program was a factor. It allows entering students to take core courses during the summer; more than 30 of its 174 students in the first-year class entered the summer program. The median LSAT for the entering case is slightly lower this year, but grades remain virtually unchanged, Suni said.

George Washington University Law School reported a 22 percent increase in its 1L class after its entering numbers fell last year. In interviews with the George Washington Hatchet, school officials said new students may have been drawn by the school’s two new buildings and more attractive financial aid packages. The school also relied more on grades and lowered its standards for LSAT scores.

Other law schools with increases are:

• The College of William and Mary, with a nearly 16 percent increase in 1L class size.

• The University of California at Berkeley, with an 8 percent increase in 1L class size. Its median LSAT remained unchanged, but grades were down slightly.

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