The issue before this Court is whether the increase in the University of Michigan’s law school tuition accurately reflects changes in the median household income.
Here is the link to Historical Household Income Tables, as provided by the Census Bureau. This has been labeled Exhibit “A”:
Here is a document showing law school tuition history at the University of Michigan. A PDF file is attached hereto as Exhibit “B”, and is incorporated herein by reference:
In 1980, the median household income was $17,170. In-state tuition at the University of Michigan was $2008. This amount would have represented about 11.7% of the median family's income.
By 1993-94, in-state tuition at said school was $12,476; the median household income in the U.S. for 1993 was listed as $31,241. Tuition at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor represented 39.9 percent of a median household income in 1993.
For the 2007-08 school year, in-state tuition at the same school was $38,069; the median household income, for the year 2007, was listed at $50,233. In-state tuition at this school would have devoured 75.8% of the median household's income in 2007.
As you can see from these documents, tuition at Michigan’s law school has spiraled out of control. The school is currently ranked 9th by the magnanimous US News & World Report.
It is true that this is one of the most prestigious law schools in the United States. It is consistently ranked in the top 10 law schools by USN&WR. The school can afford to be very selective in its admissions process. However, it is an undeniable fact that in the span of roughly 27 years, law school tuition at this public university went from representing 11.7 percent of the median household income to consuming more than 75% of the median household income.
Thus, in-state tuition at the University of Michigan’s law school has increased nearly 6.5 times faster than the median U.S. household income. How in the hell can anyone support such a system?!? How can anyone argue that this is the “free market at work”? Especially, when the demand has been brought about largely by public financing, i.e. federally-backed student loans?!
Remember, we are talking about a public university. According to the ABA, the rate of tuition has gone up faster at private ABA-accredited law schools than it has at the public law schools.
For those of you who want to see a comparison using the rate of inflation, $2008 in 1980 would have equaled $4991.56 in 2007. This means that in-state tuition at Michigan Law is currently 7.62 times higher than it would be, had it grown at the rate of inflation, i.e. $38,069/$4991.56.
Taking all of the above-listed factors into account, the Court of Common Sense finds the following: (1) a top-flight public law school has increased its tuition at a much higher rate than the increase in the median household income, in this country; (2) in-state tuition at this school has grown at a MUCH higher clip than the rate of inflation; (3) as a result, many of its students will graduate with more than $120,000 from three years at this public “institution of higher learning”; and (4) so long as the Department of Education continues to federally back loans from the student lending cartel, tuition will continue to increase at a wild rate.*
*This is not endemic to elite law schools. However, this is the only tuition history chart I could find from an ABA-accredited law school.