University of St. Thomas School of Law announces tuition freeze

Getting cold here. (TCC Materials via Flickr)

The University of St. Thomas School of Law said today it’s freezing tuition next fall — and implementing a de-facto tuition cut — making it one of a handful of private Minnesota higher-ed institutions in the past few years to announce such moves.

(Close to 30 colleges and universities have done the same around the U.S.)

First-years enrolling for the 2014-15 term will also save more than $2,000 their initial year through St. Thomas’ switch from a per-credit tuition structure to one that uses a flat fee. The school says it will also freeze tuition for second- and third-year students.

Like a lot of its peers, the law school has been hit by the national enrollment slump. When Dean Rob Vischer spoke to me in July, he was projecting a 16 percent drop in enrollment from the 143 students the school took in last fall.

He told me the school is still financially solid, has a $60 million endowment and an alumni-donation rate of more than 50 percent.

I’ve got a call in about two statements made in the press release:

Tuition has not risen at the School of Law since the start of the 2012-13 academic year. … Tuition now will be spread evenly across the three years, at a rate of $36,843 annually.

(Just trying to get some figures to compare.)

The official announcement is below:

St. Thomas School of Law to implement tuition freeze

The University of St. Thomas School of Law is implementing a tuition freeze for its next incoming class.All members of the class of 2017 who begin taking courses in fall 2014 will be guaranteed no tuition increases during the entire three-year juris doctor program. In addition, by switching from a per-credit tuition model to a flat-fee structure, the first-year tuition rate for these law students will decrease by more than $2,000 over the current rate.  Previously, students had paid a higher first-year rate because of a heavier credit load in the first year compared to the second and third years. Tuition now will be spread evenly across the three years, at a rate of $36,843 annually.

“Students are understandably concerned about the cost of legal education,” Dean Robert Vischer said, “and guaranteeing incoming students that they’ll pay the same tuition for full-time enrollment across all three years helps us be as transparent as possible about cost.”

The School of Law also will keep tuition prices frozen for current second- and third-year students. Tuition has not risen at the School of Law since the start of the 2012-13 academic year.

In addition to the tuition freeze, the School of Law’s $62 million endowment will continue to allow it to award generous scholarships to deserving students.  Scholarship awards are based not just on academics, but also on contribution to the school’s mission, which seeks to integrate faith and reason in the search for truth through a focus on morality and social justice. All scholarships are offered on a three-year basis, meaning students retain the scholarship as long as they remain in good academic standing.