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"2014 will be the year law schools begin to attack not only the quality issue -- that is the value proposition of a JD -- but also the affordability issue. Law schools will finally begin to attack their irrational and inequitable business model by taking on the heretofore unmentioned elephant in the room, the huge amounts spent on merit scholarships that drive tuition up paid by students who do not receive the scholarships."
Oh hey, Brooklyn Law School Dean Nick Allard. It's been awhile. When we last heard from the heavily indebted school's leader, he was making a number of optimistic (and some might argue, unrealistic) predictions for law schools in 2014. One of them was that schools will slash tuition rates (and by extension, merit scholarships).
Brooklyn just put its money where its predictions were. What were some of the reactions?
A 'Bold Move'
The New York Times is a fan, calling the school's moves "bold." The school is freezing tuition, then cutting it across-the-board by 15 percent next year. It'll also reduce merit aid, while increasing need-based aid. The school also offers a two-year degree program, which is presumably cheaper.
It's not the only school to cut tuition. The Times also points to the University of Iowa, the University of Arizona, and the
accredited, not accredited, re-accredited provisionally University of La Verne in California as other schools that have cut tuition.
However, the tuition cut isn't the bold move -- it's the merit aid cuts, which other schools have yet to follow. Cutting merit aid means the school will reel in fewer high LSAT applicants, which likely means a rankings drop.
Not So Bold
Matt Leichter, of Law School Tuition Bubble, wants to know what's so bold about it? After all, Brooklyn Law may not have a choice, if it wants to continue enrolling students.
"In 2012-13, only 16 percent of its full-time students were paying full tuition," he notes. "Clearly, Brooklyn Law School was playing the scholarship game very, very hard."
"And it still lost badly, hence the cuts." Leichter also notes that the employment rate cited by the Times, 90 percent, seems unrealistic when fewer than half of its 2011 and 2012 grads had full-time, long-term, "bar passage required" positions.
As we've noted before, Brooklyn Law has a bit of a looming debt issue, and law schools in general are facing an unprecedented lack of demand. The school has bills to pay, and needs to fill seats. Cut prices, cut scholarships, and abandon rankings gaming, and maybe, with the price cuts, the school will enroll enough tuition-paying students to pay the bills.
In sum, with debt issues, uncertain employment prospects, and a middling ranking, marketing Brooklyn Law School as discounted may be more necessary than bold.