South Carolina Law slashes tuition


A number of law schools had cut or held the line on tuition in recent years, particularly when applications fell and competition for students increased.

The good news? The trend may not be over, at least for some of the nation’s law schools.

Look at the University of South Carolina School of Law. It’s cutting tuition — and not is a razor-thin-kind-of-a-way.

Try 17 percent.

This year’s tuition will be $24,472, which is $5,000 less than the previous year’s. There is one catch. You need to be state resident to get that rate.

“We’ve been losing some very good students to out-of-state laws schools because of the cost,” Dean Robert Wilcox told The State newspaper. “When you go to school out of state, the odds increase dramatically that you will stay out of state for your career. This will keep more good students in South Carolina.”

The school is able to make the cut because the state’s General Assembly decided to pump more money into higher education. It had not done so for years.

South Carolina students found they could look to Georgia or North Carolina and find cheaper law school options. So that’s what they did.

And it spooked some key South Carolina players, such as Murrell Smith, the General Assembly’s House budget chairman and former graduate of the law school. When he went, tuition was $2,000.

“I literally could [work as a law] clerk during the school year and summer and pay my law school tuition,” Smith told the State. “I know those days are gone, but ... we’re not doing our young people any favors by leaving them with enormous debt.”

South Carolina Law’s news comes soon after The University of Hawaii at Manoa — William S. Richardson School of Law announced that tuition will be frozen for the next four years.

In the past, other schools have major significant cuts. In 2017, the University of Tulsa College of Law cut tuition by 35 percent. In the three previous years, tuition had jumped 10 percent. Change was necessary, the school said at the time.

“This tuition reduction is designed to be really transparent about the cost of legal education,” Dean Lyn Entzeroth told the National Jurist at the time of the cut.

The University of Iowa College of Law, slashed tuition by 16 percent in 2014 because it was having trouble attracting students.

The cut was made to "remain price-competitive and be attentive to the problems of student debt," former Iowa Law dean Gail Agrawal told the Wall Street Journal at the time.  

But not every school has made such cuts. According to Law School Transparency, law school tuition keeps rising at a rate well above inflation.

In 2018, average tuition was $27,160 for public schools and $47,754 for private institutions, according to the watchdog group. Ten years ago, those numbers were $16,836 and $34,298 respectively.



School Referenced in News: