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If you were going to flip a coin to choose a law school, you may want to save that coin and go to Syracuse University.
Syracuse College of Law is offering $20,000 scholarships to all admitted residents, effectively reducing tuition to $26,460 each year for qualified students. Unless another law school matches, it will be the least expensive private law school in the state.
"With over 5,000 New York state residents applying to law schools each year, this innovative program has the potential to positively impact a great number of students interested in attending Syracuse Law," said Grant Keener, interim assistant dean for enrollment management.
Tuition at Syracuse is $46,460 this year, but the Empire State Scholarships Grant will make tuition comparable to law schools in New York's public system. Currently, tuition at the law school at SUNY Buffalo is $26,997 for residents.
Law schools around the country have been vying for students as a stumbling economy prompted many prospects to look elsewhere. With enrollments dropping by 30 percent in recent years, some schools responded by dropping tuition.
Earlier this month, a Wyoming law school cut its tution in half for selected out-of-state students. At $16,000 a year, it is one of the least expensive law schools in the country.
Rural states especially have struggled to attract law students and to keep new lawyers practicing locally. South Dakota, for example, was the first state to offer a $12,000 annual subsidy in exchange for a five-year commitment to start a full-time practice in small counties.
More than Money
Some law schools also lowered admission standards to bring in more students, although it hasn't worked out so well for them. The U.S. Department of Education and the American Bar Association have targeted for-profit law schools for taking in low-performing students who are unable to repay student loans.
At Syracuse, officials say the law school prepares students for one of the toughest bar exams in the country. Graduates there have an 89.5 percent pass rate for first-time test takers, which is six percent higher than the average for other ABA accredited law schools in New York.
"The College of Law has a strong history of serving students from New York state with an exceptional education and preparation for the New York State Bar exam," said Dean Craig M. Boise.