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Tuition Discounting Study of Private Law Schools


The practice of tuition discounting—providing institutional aid to select students to offset the price of attending a college or university—is widespread in higher education, and its use has increased over the past few decades. NACUBO annually collects tuition discount rates and other data related to discounting among undergraduates at private nonprofit institutions, but very little is known about discounting practices at law schools or other graduate/professional programs.

The 2016 NACUBO/AccessLex Tuition Discounting Study of Private Law Schools was commissioned by AccessLex Institute in part to provide more recent information on tuition discounting practices at law schools, and to measure the effects of discounting on law schools’ finances. The use of institutional grant aid to attract and retain law students has become even more important, as many programs have had to grapple with declines in their numbers of applicants and enrollments. This challenging context has prompted law schools to implement a variety of practices and policies to raise their enrollments, including increasing their financial aid expenditures.

The data in this brief are based on a tuition discounting survey NACUBO sent to 113 U.S.-based private nonprofit law schools, all accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). Because only 36 of these schools responded to the survey, the findings should be interpreted in context and with caution towards applying them too broadly. Nonetheless, the results provide compelling data for discussion of tuition discounting and other financial aid practices at law schools and present a foundation for future discussion and research efforts.