Understanding the Iowa Law School’s Tuition Change

5 Dec

Law School

It appears that the University of Iowa Board of Regents has just bypassed the Law School’s tuition recommendation. One step forward for the rights of law students anywhere!

They Thought We Were Stupid (We Weren’t)

Way back in October, the University of Iowa College of Law came forward with a tuition proposition that had the students in an uproar. They may not have been in the streets striking, but social media accounts lit up.  None of us understood how the Law School thought we would be okay with the proposal – did we look that stupid?  


After attending UIowa Law, I will owe nearly $200,000 in tuition. I owed less than $27,000 after undergrad.


According to reports, the Law School wanted to cut non-resident tuition by almost $8000 (with the cost dropping from $47,252 to $39,500 per year).  In order to prop up this cut in non-resident tuition, the College was going to raise resident tuition by approx. $500 (up to about $26,750 per year).  It sounded really good, especially when you consider the fact that resident applications have dropped drastically in recent years (actually all applications have dropped; law schools are just slow at admitting it). Since  2010, applications from Iowa Residents have fallen by nearly 50% (from 287 to 173).  So with more non-residents coming in, it sounds like a good idea to drop tuition for them right?  

The Students however saw the following problems –

  • First, the ratio of residents to non-residents is closer than one might think. Iowa has fairly studiously removed the statistics for the student body; however, as of 2011, 49% of the students were residents. (1) For them, tuition went up.  
  • Second, the number of non-residents paying resident tuition is pretty high. They often have  (and are hired first for) Research Assistantships (R.A. positions),  working for professors in exchange for certain benefits. The main benefit is resident tuition. That’s right, by second year – and if not then, definitely third year – many non-resident students are working for resident tuition.

So now, the resident tuition hike is hitting both the resident students and the non-residents who have R.A. positions.

Suffice to say, students were unhappy.

The Board of Regents Responds

Thank God for the wonderful UIowa Board of Regents who acknowledged the problems with the plan.  As Regent Katie Mulholland said,“If it is fair to lower nonresident tuition, then our resident students ought to have the same opportunity in terms of cost.”  (2)  The Board went on to state that they were “‘disappointed’ a tuition cut wasn’t proposed by the law school.” (2). Instead, the Board has proposed that, while the non-resident tuition drop will stand, there will also be a $4,464 drop in resident tuition (to $22,284 per year).  If the Board approves of the proposal, it will begin taking effect in 2014. Too late to help me, but hopefully it will be beneficial to those student in the future.  At least it’s a step in the right direction.

Additional Resources

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