Tuesday, October 27, 2009

GAO Report on Law School Costs & Diversity

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a 40-page report on Issues Related to Law School Cost and Access. The report consists of slides from a presentation given to the staff of Congressional committees on education.

In this report, in response to a mandate in the Higher Education Opportunity Act,3 we examine the following questions: (1) How do law schools compare with similar professional schools in terms of cost and minority enrollment? (2) What factors, including accreditation, may affect the cost of law school? (3) What factors, including accreditation, may affect minority access to law school?

Three primary findings are reported:

  • Since 1994, tuition and fees at dental, law, and medical schools have increased, and trends in minority enrollment have been comparable across types of schools.
  • The main factors driving the cost of law school are the move to a more hands-on, resource-intensive approach to legal education and competition among schools for higher rankings.
  • Lower average LSAT scores and undergraduate GPAs may have negatively affected some African Americans and Hispanics.

The graph illustrates the increasing level of debt owed by medical and law school students at private (dashed lines) and public (solid lines) universities.

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