The school is reducing tuition by about 11 percent for in-state students and by 8 percent for nonresidents. The change comes as the school faces a 13.5 percent drop in first-year students and a decrease of more than one-third in the number of applicants since 2005.
Lowering tuition is part of the school’s larger plan to help students manage costs. Officials hope the change will make law school more accessible and attract more applicants.
“We want to be responsive in changing times,” UA law school Dean Marc Miller said.
With the lower tuition rates, in-state law students at UA can expect an annual savings of nearly $3,000. At Arizona State University, officials said tuition for law students is being frozen this year.
The high price of going to law school coupled with a tough job market for students nearing graduation and worries over rising student-loan debt have led to declining applicant rates at law schools nationwide.
ASU law student Will Knight is networking and interviewing in hopes of lining up a job.
“It’s incredibly nerve-racking,” he said.
At UA, 11 percent of graduates were unemployed in 2012. That compares to just 6 percent in 2011.
With the Arizona Board of Regents voting in favor of the tuition changes earlier this week, annual tuition for in-state students at UA’s James E. Rogers College of Law will be $24,306. Nonresident tuition falls to $38,768.
At ASU, tuition at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law remains the same at $26,267 for in-state students and $40,815 for nonresident students.
Miller said UA will be able to reduce tuition by bringing in new revenue through proposed master’s programs for non-legal majors. Some existing programs also will be expanded to more students, including a juris doctorate for attorneys from outside the United States.
The tuition drop is good news to 30-year-old Eddie Walneck. The second-year UA law student is a new father.
“I’m buying lots of diapers these days,” he said.
He pays for school and living expenses using student loans and scholarships. The lower tuition, combined with a summer job, would enable him to borrow less than the $20,000 in loans he takes out each year.
About 80 percent of UA law students receive financial aid from the college. That’s a higher percentage than most other law schools.
Dean Douglas Sylvester said ASU’s law school has no plans to lower tuition. He said ASU has added more services for students, including hiring more staff for its career-services department and starting a nonprofit law firm this summer that will hire and mentor recent graduates.
Sylvester applauded UA’s lower tuition.
“Arizona is really lucky to have two public law schools and two universities that are willing to be innovative,” he said. “There are a lot of places that aren’t doing this.”