UA law students to see lower tuition
Photo courtesy of Paul Kealey
Marc Miller serves as interim dean of the James E. Roger College of Law.
Although the Arizona Board of Regents’ approved a 3-percent tuition increase for undergraduates on Thursday, UA law students will be paying less next year.
Annual tuition for the James E. Rogers College of Law 2013-14 academic year will decrease by 10.6 percent for resident students and 8.2 percent for nonresident students.
“We’re seeing changing times for legal practice and for legal education,” said Marc Miller, interim dean of the College of Law. “One of the most sustained critiques of legal education is that is has become too expensive, so that the debt that students pick up … seriously inhibits their job options.”
Though enrollment has also decreased, the College of Law is still doing better than other institutions when compared at the national level. The College of Law is down about 10 percent over the whole admission season, while the nationwide figures are about 17 percent, Miller said.
By dropping both resident and nonresident tuition, the law school will become immensely competitive, he added.
“It’s actually a very good time here at the law school,” Miller said. “That seemed to us like the right moment to become more accessible. Not out of fear, but out of a sense of real opportunity to change the game.”
By decreasing tuition, the College of Law is broadening its base and continuing to grow some of the existing programs that have been successful, according to Miller.
In order to make up for the difference in tuition, Miller said the law school plans to expand new degree programs, though it has been cutting costs for several years prior to the decrease.
“We’re looking at non J.D. programs that are going to produce outside revenue through tuition,” said Nancy Stanley, assistant dean for advancement at the College of Law.
“A couple of those programs we already have, and a couple of them … we’re working through the approval process at the university and with the Board of Regents,” she added.
The programs awaiting approval would include a graduate program in legal studies for non-lawyers
pursuing a legal education, and another graduate program in policy studies, which would pertain to indigenous governance, according to Stanley.
The law school is also planning to increase the size of its Juris Doctor with Advanced Standing program for lawyers from outside the United States, she added, as well as recruit additional students for other current programs.
“The idea is to keep us on the most affordable end of the spectrum, maintain excellence and grow and bring in new ideas and build programs, but do that through other kinds of funding sources,” Miller said.
Miller added that he expects there to be a significant market response, including an interest from top students around the country who may be able to pay less as a nonresident student at the UA as opposed to a resident student in another state.
Several students said they were happy to see the tuition decrease.
Keith Collett, a first-year law student, said that the decrease in tuition would make a sizable impact for him after graduation.
“I think it’s definitely a benefit to students … obviously it makes education more affordable,” Collett said. “I’m paying for it primarily through student loans.
“It makes it a lot easier upon graduation to not have that debt, and not be so focused on the money aspect,” he added.
Although third-year law students will not benefit from tuition decreases for next year, though some
students said they supported the impact that the cuts could have on other students and the school.
Josh Miller, a third-year law student and president of the UA’s Student Bar Association, said he thinks it is a very positive move.
“Selfishly, I can look at that and say that’s really bad for me,” Josh Miller said. “As a whole for our school, I think it’s really wonderful.”
Though tuition will significantly decrease, the new costs will still reflect the 3-percent increase across the university, according to Marc Miller.
“An inexpensive education for a low-quality degree is no bargain,” Marc Miller said. “What’s extraordinary here is that this is a great law school and was already affordable, and is now, I think, an extraordinary opportunity for people who want to be lawyers, even in this challenging time.”