Law school tuition increases as applications dropLaw school was once seen by young college graduates as the key a successful career. As graduates now struggle to find employment in their fields and pay off their student loans, they are beginning to rethink law school, especially as tuition rates have skyrocketed.

Applications to law schools have fallen sharply in the past several years. In the early 2000s, applicants to ABA-accredited law schools were at a high. From 2003 to 2005, law schools across the country saw annual application numbers of close to 100,000. The National Law Journal reported that in 2012, not even 68,000 people applied for entry to law school.

Besides worrying about finding a job upon law school graduation in the sputtering economy, students are also concerned about adding additional debt to their crushing undergraduate loans. Tuition for in-state students at public law schools averaged $23,590 this year, while tuition at a private school was raised to an average of $40,585. Despite these already-high costs, most law schools continue to increase their tuition annually.

"I'm not shocked by the numbers, but I'm horrified," Ohio State University Michael E. Moritz College of Law professor Deborah Jones Merritt told the National Law Journal. "It's professionally irresponsible. Law schools have a responsibility to our students and their futures, which includes not raising prices as much as we can."

Due to a lack of applicants, many schools are frantically trying to attract new students to increase revenue and their rankings. Universities are luring in potential students with more scholarships and financial aid in order to soften the blow of higher tuition rates. Some schools have managed not to raise prices, but instead agreed to a tuition freeze, which they hope will be a draw for applicants concerned about the rising cost of college.

In addition to offering students more money to attend, some schools are accepting a larger number of applicants than they have in the past. Some are even pursuing applicants that only made it to the waiting list early on in the admissions process to boost enrollment.

Some professionals in the industry expect law school price increases to slow down soon.

"It looks to me like the curve may be starting to level off," the George Washington University Law School dean, Paul Schiff Berman, told the National Law Journal. "I wouldn't be surprised if tuition increases flatten out in the next few years."

In the meantime, law schools continue to try to strike a delicate balance between attracting students, providing them with an affordable education and maintaining their rankings.
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