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Penn State Cuts Law School Tuition in Half for Some Students

If you live in Pennsylvania and want to attend law school at Penn State, you can receive a 50 percent discount in tuition.

Faced with a 17.5 percent decline in first year enrollment at its Dickinson School of Law, Penn State is now offering a $20,000 renewable grant for in-state students who enroll in fall 2014.

“This is not a program designed to entice people in the door,” said Interim Dean James Houck. “If a person is admitted according to our standards which we are upholding and maintaining, they would be entitled to it for the three years they are in school.”

That means a total savings of $60,000.  The current annual tuition for both state residents and out-of-state students is $41,088.

According to Houck, the number one reason that students give when choosing another law school other than Penn State’s is cost.

"And so we’re trying to address that,” he said.

In comparison, tuition at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law is $29,660 for state residents and $36,864 for non-residents. At Temple University’s School of Law, tuition is $19,722 for a Pennsylvania resident and $33,040 for out-of-state students.

This fall, 132 students are enrolled in Penn State's law school, which according to Houck is comprised of about a 50-50 mix of in-state and out-of-state residents.

Houck said this tuition reduction or grant program is intended to increase access for well-qualified students who might not otherwise be able to afford it.

“We think if they come here, it benefits them," he said. "It benefits us.”

The tuition break is not being offered to current law school students. 

“Every year is different,” Houck said. “What we’re trying to do is to respond to what we’re seeing right now.  This is a great thing for the law school, a great thing for their (current students) school, and I think they all want that. They’ve had opportunities and have had financial aid situations that were developed during their entering year, and those continue to exist.”

According to the National Law Journal, applications for first-year students were down 12 percent nationwide this fall.

So, is it the cost or a sense that there is a glut of attorneys? 

“That is the big question that all of legal education faces today,” Houck said.

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