For whom will the legal education remain affordable?

Date2015-02-05

 For whom will the legal education remain affordable?

Rising college costs continue to be at the forefront of both institutional and political debates. With skyrocketing college costs, parents are beginning to tighten their belts, and sometimes even lower their dreams and expectations for their children. In doing so, many are opting for more affordable options, such as community college, in-state colleges, or federally subsidized colleges. The dream of sending students to elite colleges is being replaced with practicality, and what parents can afford, especially in times of financial struggle. Much of this is the result of the skyrocketing costs of college tuition. Tuition has risen in recent years by as much as 70-75% due to the increase in demand, and a reduction in public aid. Such rising costs show little hope of slowing down. College tuition is 975% higher since 1980, which many point to as a crisis in the higher education industry. Rising costs make law school particularly unaffordable at a time when many families are not maintaining incomes of the past. With families making less than in previous years, they are also less likely to be able to afford exorbitant costs for college tuition. Such rising costs bear the question, for who will law school still be affordable? Law school on average is much higher than other institutions of learning. But, like other industries, there can be a wide disparity of tuition charges from one school to the other. Some tuition is still fairly reasonable, while others are not. Finding schools with the proper mix of reasonable costs and excellent education is sometimes difficult, but it can be done. There are options, such as in state schools, which reduces costs considerably. There is the option of federal or private loans, which may have varying rates. In addition, there are student scholarships. Scholarships sometimes pay full tuition for some specified period of time. Scholarships are normally based on educational achievement, or need, and scholarships may have varying requirements. Students often need to fall into certain income, educational achievement, or other specific category in order to qualify for the scholarship. Parents and students may also need to be more diligent in finding affordable options for law school. This is especially true since elite law colleges may charge $80,000 or more per year just for tuition, with the median at $40,000. This doesn’t include books, housing, food, or clothing. It also means due to the demand, and rising costs that students need to work harder to fit into achievement categories to qualify for scholarships. If tuition is beyond the scholarship amount parents federal or private loans can be used to supplement costs, which also means the ability to pay back loans. With this in mind, the more reasonably priced law colleges, and in state colleges, are undoubtedly going to make a comeback. A legal education may remain affordable, but it will mean seeking out the more practically priced law colleges. It may also mean planning longer and harder, and finding schools that offer affordability, with a quality law degree.