Monday, February 1, 2010

Gluttony Incarnate: New York Law School

I sometimes get industry apologists who tell me that the “free market” demands that law schools set their tuition and fees at any rate they choose. By this logic, shouldn’t lower-ranked schools charge lower tuition because of less demand and meager employment prospects?

Case in point: New York Law School. The school is ranked in the third tier of law schools, by US News & World Report for 2010.

Tuition and Fees: For a full-time law student at NYLS, tuition and fees amount to $44,850 for the 2009-2010 academic year.

Total Cost of Attendance: For FT students living on their own, the total COA is estimated at $67,615 per year! For those fortunate enough to live with family, the total COA is a manageable, paltry $54,955. (I mean, who can’t come up with $54,955 in total costs per year while attending law school full-time, right?!)

Financial Aid Resources:

The school gladly refers its current victims and prospective students to private lenders.

Alternative Loan Programs

Often, the financial aid available from federal, state and institutional sources is not enough to meet the total cost of attendance. Alternative loan programs provide opportunities to borrow to meet these costs. The annual maximum loan limits for most alternative loans is the difference between the cost of attendance and any other financial aid received for the academic year. Unlike the federal loan programs, alternative loan programs are consumer loans for students and therefore require borrowers to demonstrate good credit histories as part of the eligibility requirements. The Office of Financial Aid strongly suggests that you get a copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies prior to applying for an alternative loan. [Emphasis mine]

[Read: We realize that tuition and living expenses to attend our dump are exorbitant. Therefore, we recommend you rely on “alternate loan programs” to meet tuition and total cost of attendance.]

Did I mention that the dean and president of NYLS, Richard A. Matasar, is also the Chair of the Board of Directors of Access Group, supposedly a “non-profit loan service provider” - based out of ominous Wilmington, Delaware?!

Going back to the economic argument: Why should a third tier trash can like New York Law School charge $44,850 in tuition and fees for the 2009-2010 school year? Just look at the size of the school’s endowment:

For the 2005 tax year, you can see that NYLS’s endowment was $208,128,543. That’s right – TWO HUNDRED AND EIGHT MILLION, ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-EIGHT THOUSAND, AND FIVE HUNDRED FORTY-THREE DOLLARS!! Go down to line 21 on this IRS Form 990. This amount is greater than most university endowments! Of course, the apologists conveniently overlook this fact and assert that a law school with a $208 million endowment MUST charge $45K per year in tuition in fees. Otherwise, such a toilet could not afford to rent classroom space or pay their “professors.”

Apparently, law school industry apologists believe that the supposed “free market” demands that law school tuition continue to skyrocket – regardless of the job market for lawyers.


  1. A good amount of people don't realize that the government backs all those federal loans through policy mandates.
    If the student loan sector was a true free market capitlism system, it'd be like how it used to be in our grand parents time.. A lot of people would go into apprenticeships.. but hey, getting into a good apprenticeship is more difficult then getting into Yale law school.

    Getting into Local 798 or one of the unions in New York is dam near impossible. You either have to be married into it or grand fathered in.

    I hate to burst a lot of people's (esp all the college grads who just think "oh become a plumber") bubbles about trades, but they are harder to get into then Yale law..

    The guys out of local 798 all make over 200k a year. They have their wage chart on their site and those guys will work 7-12 for 10 weeks at a time, and make 50k in 10 weeks.

  2. The next time you see an electrician, plumber, HVAC, mobile mechanic.. don't be so quick to judge, there's a very very good chance he's making a lot more then you.

  3. Annonymous at 6:34 - not only if he making a lot more, he has hardly any debt, has better working hours and is most likely happier also. Trade school is a fantastic option for many...

  4. How high will the NYLS tuition go before the bubble pops?

  5. Excellent research. It is a disgrace that these TOILETS cannot/WILL NOT pass on savings to their students from endowments. They have no incentive, though. They can run a bloated unaccountable toilet budget with no repercussions. They just want to get their hands on that federal loan money and mazimize their revenues.

    Please post an article on the SETON HALL LAW TOILET.

  6. The blogger for Big Debt, Small Law pulls no punches when it comes to Seton Hall. I paid $21,000 a year for law school tuition in 2002 at a school that was not yet accredited. The following year, tuition rose to $24,000, and it my final year, it was $27,000. Today, it's $34,000! And this is in the Midwest!

    We have a glut of lawyers, and there's no demand for them. To get a job, you have to work very very hard. The law schools make it appear that within 6-9 months, you'll be working that legal job of your dreams. For those who favor, "buyer beware", this is your "buyer beware."

    See my post on my recent visit to a job fair. I asked every single company there whether they were in need of lawyers and the answer was an unequivocal no. It doesn't get any more straightforward than that.

  7. With all due respect, you are confusing the market for lawyers with the market for law schools. It may be accurate to say that there is not enough demand for lawyers to absorb the number of attorneys graduating from law school (and passing the bar). The converse, however, is true of the law school market. There are more people who would like to be lawyers then there are seats for them at law schools. This, coupled with easy money in the form of non-bankruptable loans, is why law schools can increase their tuitions exorbitantly.

    When a law school or university administrator studies the "market" they are studying the market for law schools NOT the market for lawyers. Face it most law school administrators don't care whether you are actually practicing or not. It is just lip service to get more butts in the seats - i.e. to encourage more demand.

    My point - your argument isn't particularly clear or accurate. Just sayin...

  8. “With all due respect” is empty language. It serves no purpose. You should drop this from your vocabulary.

    As to your argument, I am fully aware that law schools do not give a damn whether their students ever find legal employment. That has been one of the central themes of this blog, from its inception. I have also noted that easy access to student loans has directly contributed to the HUGE increase in law school tuition over the last 30 years.

    There are clearly more people who would like to be lawyers than there are available positions. There are also more people who would like to be movie stars, NBA point guards, and swimsuit models than there are available positions in those industries.

    The point is this: law schools distort and manipulate their employment and starting salary figures in order to attract MORE applicants and students to their particular diploma mills. They have the motive and opportunity. The ABA does not require any outside, independent audit of law schools’ self-reported figures. Do you think this has no effect on why so many people want to apply to law school?!

    It is you who is confusing the issue.

  9. >There are also more people who would like to be movie stars, NBA point guards, and swimsuit models than there are available positions in those industries.

    At least when you meet kids that are going to film school or on college football/basketball teams, they for the most part acknowledge how slim of a chance it is for them to make it into the big times. All the pre-law and law school students all think they are gonna be working big law.

  10. ^Who told you that all pre-laws think they are going to be working big law?

    Isn't it more likely that most law students expect to be able to use their degree to find paid legal, or nonlegal, work? And isn't it likely that such students reasonably rely on the bullshit figures put out by the law schools to reach this conclusion?

  11. Yes, there are many more people that think they are going to be stars or ballers than will actually make it. HOWEVER, how much of a financial investment do those people make before they figure out that the dream is an illusion? And, doesn't putting $120K out into your legal education make you feel like you SHOULD be able to make a living wage.... all three parties are delusional. Law students who think they will land the big law job and be happy ever more, law school students who would be satisfied earning $70K in a small firm with room to grow AND kids that want to be movie stars. There is no difference between any of these three parties.. they are all chasing the impossible dream.

  12. What the tool above, i.e. 1:32 and 6:19, conveniently ignores is the fact that NYLS is (a) third tier; (b) had a $208 million endowment - in 2005; (c) its TTT students are competing directly against Columbia, Cornell, and NYU, in the local legal market; and (d) it charges $44,850 in tuition and fees for full-time students, for the 2009-2010 school year.

    More importantly, the apologist does not even address the fact that the demand for such festering toilets is created by easy access to large amounts of federally-backed student loans. Apparently, he thinks this is the "free market" at work. He also has no qualms about the dean and president of a TTT also serving as chair of the Board of Directors for Access Group - I guess there is no conflict of interest, after all!

    For a detailed description of law school reality, you should go over to Big Debt, Small Law:

    There, you will see that law students at Seton Hall are paying roughly $104.76 per hour for their stellar "legal education."

  13. "“With all due respect” is empty language. It serves no purpose. You should drop this from your vocabulary. "

    Actually, I do respect you. I've read a lot of your posts and I respect what you are trying to do. I agree with much of it. I was just trying to point out that you need to clarify your argument, otherwise it can be picked apart pretty easily.

    Also if you think I'm an apologist, well you're wrong. I'm a long-timer poster at jdunderground and I regularly lurk on various law-school. Yes, I know of Scott Bullock. Look me up, I'm no apologist.

  14. Well, unfrozen, I am in the wrong about you being an apologist. I do understand where you are coming from, i.e. the market for lawyers is saturated, but the market for law schools is not - as individual TTT dumps regularly receive in excess of 1500 applications for 200 slots in their next incoming class.

    I agree with you on that point. I recognize this. I do not explicitly mention the market for law schools in my posts, because it is a basic fact that tons of people apply to law school every year. (I don’t see why this needs to be mentioned, or why it takes away from my argument if I don’t cite to it.) The reason I am so upset with this situation is that law schools manipulate and distort their employment and starting salary figures - for the purpose of enticing more young people to their particular law school. In the end, this serves to put more people into a life of debt slavery. And that is indefensible.

    Remember, this blog is an attempt to educate pre-law students about this situation. For instance, I have a co-worker who is married with children and who is currently getting ready to take the LSAT. This person has no connections, and is not wealthy. Am I supposed to just sit idly by while this person puts their family in financial strife – when I know that the schools commit fraud and that the legal market is terribly over-saturated?

  15. I know you love dentists.

    Here's a tidbit about dental school tuition though: cost of attendance at UPenn Dental is now pushing upwards of 90k a year! :)

    I know, I know, dentists have awesome jobs. But still, we're talking 360k total. That's rough. It's DMD, which I'm not sure is superior to or just different from a DDS. Even if you were getting free rent and food, it would still cost a little over 70k a year.

    It seems I can't copy/paste website, but look up UPenn DMD tuition if you want to.

    So, in conclusion, every type of school is ridiculously expensive.

  16. Drake Mallard, I like the work dentists have done on my teeth. I know that medical and dental students are facing gigantic debt levels. I have commented on this before, on this blog and elsewhere. My brother-in-law is in his third year of dental school. He is in his mid-30s, and I don't know how the hell he is EVER going to pay off his loans. (His wife also has a worthless M.A. in History from BYU.) I also have several friends who went to Des Moines University and are now either finishing their medical rotations or in residency. They all have massive debt.

    Here is the link for Penn's dental program:

    This is pretty sickening. According to the school's purported expense budget, their students will easily have $350K in debt.

    My next post is actually going to address plans for a new, third-rate medical school. I am an ally of medicinesux, and other professionals who are facing catastrophic debt - as a result of "doing the right thing" and furthering their education. I am a fan of MD Underground; it is a good development. I made sure to mention MDU when I was on the radio this past weekend, and the hosts were kind enough to let me make this plug.

  17. Ah, I finally see why you have frequent shout outs to dentists.

    I wish your brother in the law the best of luck in his future dentist adventures.

  18. I meant brother in law. bleh.

  19. The argument about supply/demand is deeply flawed.

    You say in your post that the lower tier law schools, since there is less demand to go there, should have lower tuition, but you are wrong.

    The fact of the matter is that the demand in the law school world "rolls downhill."

    As aspiring students get the door slammed on them for higher tiered schools, many then set their sites on a lower tiered school. In the top schools, many more get rejected than get in, so that demand is like a snowball rolling down the mountain, getting larger and larger as it goes down down down...

    If anything, I think the lower tier schools could charge even more and the desperate fools that just HAVE to go to law school would pay it.

    On another note, I think it is God-damn funny that you think that everyone else misses the point, but that you never do and your arguments are perfect.

    Thanks for the laugh!

  20. Thanks for the asinine comment, Scott H. Greenfield, Esq., NYLS Class of 1982! When you reach a level of maturity where we can have an adult conversation, let me know. However, seeing that you are about 50 years old and have the maturity - and intelligence - of a 3 year-old chimp, I doubt this will ever happen.

    And please don't post a link to your family photos on this blog. Also, when YOU went to this dump, the tuition was nowhere near $44,850. So please pull your head out of Matasar's ass. Thank you.

    Seeing that you are so successful, do you think that you can get that gap in your teeth corrected?

  21. "I sometimes get industry apologists who tell me that the “free market” demands that law schools set their tuition and fees at any rate they choose. By this logic, shouldn’t lower-ranked schools charge lower tuition because of less demand and meager employment prospects?"

    Not necessarily. In a free market, prices are not dictated by the level of quality or the return on investment, but rather what people are willing to pay. Unfortunately, too many people are willing to fork over 150k+ for a JD degree that won't get them a good-paying job or, hell, A job.

    Some of these schools are new, so I guess the hope is that they'll get weeded out eventually, but more to the point, a lot of people are turning to law school because they don't know what else to do - it's the myth of higher education. That more education = better job prospects. People just assume that this is true of JDs, so they don't care about the enormous debt as long as they're guaranteed a job afterward. Of course, that job never comes, and they find that out too late.

  22. Even applying to law school is extremely expensive and time consuming, let alone enrolling. Many law students drop out during
    their first year, and many others rue the day they ever enrolled.Therefore I suggest everyone for a online law program ,cheap and best!

    Legal Education

  23. Lets not forget that bedbugs were found in NYLS dorm building last fall.

  24. i am really starting to rethink taking the lsats in june....

  25. I started at NYLS when it was 2nd tier and by the time I graduated it was starting its steady decline. Thankfully, I had grants and I was top 10%, so I did well financially afterward with little debt. This was pre-2008. Now fast forward to today. The market has changed forever, but the thinking has stayed the same. Kids applying to law school still think there is actually a difference between NYLS, and say Fordham, Brooklyn or Cordozo. Some will actually forego scholarships at these schools because they got into what the US News tells them is a more “prestigious school” (American, for example). It's too bad that being young so often also means being stupid. Bottom line: To justify law school: (1) You either have to go to a top 20 school (still an expensive proposition for the honor of being a BigLaw slave and the luxury of wearing a fancy “name school” sweatshirt), (2) Get a full ride at any accredited school below 20, or (3) Get a decent scholarship or grant and graduate 5-10%, then cross your fingers you get a job that at least pays more than you borrowed.

    A little piece of advice to the misguided youth: When all this vanity wears off, when you realize you are not going to change the world and that being a lawyer is just another job, when the name of a school doesn’t matter anymore, when you realize you are not going to get one of the “cool” legal jobs (that don’t exist, by the way), when you have matured and you realize it’s time to have a family of your own—kids you want to send to college—vacations you want to go on, etc.—what then? The poor financial decision you made on law school will still be with you. Only now the pain will be worse (irreversible).

    Nando is wise! Listen to him!!!!!!!!!


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