With four schools attached to the University of California system, the Golden State has more accredited public law schools ithan any other state. And students at Berkeley, Los Angeles, Davis, and Irvine will all be walking with a little less weight on their shoulders after an announcement from Governor Jerry Brown this week.
When Brown and the UC regents announced the budget for the next academic year, they surprised nearly everyone. The four law schools will be exempted from tuition increases that are occurring within 50 other professional graduate programs such as social work, public health, medicine, and dentistry.
It comes as a surprise because the same plan, which was originally approved in November, showed a tuition increase between $1,058 and $1.587 for the four law schools. According to a spokesperson for the governor, Brown felt that law students had already experienced escalating costs and too much debt and did not want to add to the problem. The increases would have taken in-state tuition at UCLA above $46,000.
Some officials questioned whether the freeze for law school specifically was supported by Brown because of his professional career as an attorney. He graduated from Yale Law School and worked as California’s attorney general, making him more able to identify with law students. His spokesperson denied such claims. The UC regents approved the move largely in part because Brown is proposing substantial increases in funding for the UC system.
According to a report the Governor cited, 85 percent of law students in the UC system take on debt. The average amount of debt for graduates in 2013 was $119,000—double the debt students graduated with in 2001.
The smallest increase for the graduate programs experiencing tuition hikes was the preventive veterinary medicine program at UC Davis, which saw a $144 increase. The highest increase was for a graduate business degree at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business at $1,928.
“There is definitely a sigh of relief that tuition is staying steady,” UC Davis 1L, Kareem Aref, told the L.A. Times. But the relief is short-lived, he added, “since we realize how much we are paying for these degrees in the first place.”
Source: L.A. Times
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