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Sticking It to the Law Students

Last week, Above the Law and The Stanford Daily announced that Stanford law students would face a 5.75 percent tuition hike for the 2011-2012 academic year, a significantly higher increase than the 3.5 percent increase that the rest of Stanford's student body is facing.

Stanford Law's dean, Larry Kramer, tried to cushion the blow by saying in a follow-up e-mail to students, "We kept our tuition raises lower than our peers for a number of years prior to the economic collapse in 2008." Uh, Dean -- which peers are you referring to?

Dean Kramer went on to write, "Even with this rise, tuition at SLS should still be the lowest or, at worst, roughly tied for the lowest among top law schools ..."

Why do administrators say things like this in an attempt to make students feel better about paying extra money? I don't care what other schools are charging. I care what my school is charging. It's like going to a Toyota dealership and being told I shouldn't balk at the price of the car I want because the Ford across the street -- the car that I don't want -- costs more than the car I do want.

Noting that most Stanford Law students didn't learn of their tuition increase until they read about it on Above the Law or in The Stanford Daily, ATL's Elie Mystal wrote, "In the future, Stanford should probably have some kind of official media plan for explaining why the law school has been singled out for a special screwing."

And I would add that they should share it with other law schools that are also screwing law students with unexpected tuition increases.

At my school, Arizona State University, law students pay both graduate school and law school tuition. I looked back at my financial records and saw that for my first semester of law school, graduate school tuition was $3,395 and law school tuition was $4,625 (total: $8,020). For my last semester of law school, I paid $4,254 for graduate school tuition and $6,375 for law school tuition (total: $10,629). That's about a 33 percent increase since I started, and Dean Paul Schiff Berman has already announced that the law school tuition is going up by $1,500 next year and has the audacity to claim that this isn't a large-scale increase. This is on top of the expected increase in graduate school tuition. Thank god I'm graduating. As for after graduation, well, as one Stanford law student reportedly told Above the Law, "If SLS acts like a for-profit corporation and thinks they should charge as much as the market can bear, they shouldn't ask for donations from us once we graduate."

Amen to that!

Guest blogger Ruth Carter is a law student in her final semester at Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

Posted by Laurel Newby on February 18, 2011 at 05:26 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)

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