It’s no secret that law education is expensive. Not only are students hit with crippling debt but they are also being deterred from potential careers in work for underserviced geographic areas. This damages the profession as a whole and it prevents underprivileged students from pursuing a career in law.
In a counter-intuitive move, one of the highest rated law schools in the ATL Rankings has decided to go the other way around and increase tuition fees.
The University of California is not in the best position financially, especially after the tax revolt and the unruly ballot measure process impoverished the state, with 70% to 90% of the state budget allocated to laws that only serve special interest groups, lobbyists and extremists.
The Daily Californian writes that the UC Berkeley School of Law is considering an increase in its tuition fees by $1,432 for the 2015-16 academic year as a way to “account for rising costs”. Dean Sujit Choudhry discussed the tuition hike at a public town hall meeting at the school on Monday.
Dean Choudhry called the increase a “modest” one but we are forgetting that the $1,432 increase is only a surcharge. Berkeley Law anticipates increase in tuition fees across the whole campus, with a total 5.4% increase for Californians, rising the cost of attendance to $54,091 from the $51,320 it was previously. Non-residents would also be affected by the hike, paying $58,225 from the $55,271 they paid in previous years.
Experts believe that the blame is with the people of California, who gutted the school’s finances with laws that slowed down funding for what is supposed to be the state’s public university. The reasons outlined by Dean Choudhry are, however, more immediate with soaring costs of faculty health care being the main one behind the increase as well as the school’s ongoing compensation for a pension plan that is deficient at best. Another reason cited by Choudhry is the increase in staff size to accommodate for student services. However the Dean assures us that his main focus is financial aid, something he hopes will “soften the blow” of the proposed increase.
Leaving California’s underfunded pension plan aside, this is a tale that we have heard before. The Washington Monthly even conducted a study on the matter and concluded that tuition fees are being eaten up by academic administrators who are keen on hiring even more administrators. Even when “faculty” health care costs are being brought up, Dean Choudhry fails to mention that a big majority are made up of administrator health bills.