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Why Is Law School Transparency Lying About Tuition?

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Brave professor Assistant Dean of Admissions Steven Freedman of Kansus University (60.1% Employment Score) has bravely posted this brave and bold message about the horrors of Law School Transparency's viscous and false tuition data:

Did you know that Kansas Law charges $21,173 for in-state, resident tuition? That Iowa Law charges $51,864 for non-resident tuition?

[...] Well I hope you don’t know any of that, because all of that is grossly inaccurate. In fact, here at Kansas we posted our tuition rate of $19,985 in July 2014. Iowa Law has made available its $41,296 annual non-resident tuition available for a similar time period.

[...] I understand that if you dig deep into the webpage, you can see what LST was doing here. On the Iowa “costs” webpage which is tailored to the Class of 2013, when they say “Non-resident Tuition: $51,864”, they don’t actually mean that’s the tuition for U. of Iowa for the Class of 2013. If you carefully move your cursor to the very tiny and easy to miss “?”, you will see that that figure is an estimate based on the prior year’s tuition in relation to tuition growth during the five years prior to the current year (2008-2013 instead of the more timely 2009-2014). Took me a number of visits to the LST website before I figured out that “tuition” doesn’t necessarily mean tuition on the LST webpage, it often means a guess at what tuition might be. Which, again, is a bit strange considering the actual data is freely available. Isn’t this the same kind of sleight of hand that LST has accused law schools of doing?

A just question, Professor Ass Dean of Admissions. However, mere words cannot clearly articulate just how deceitful LST's tuition data is, so we're providing this screen cap of KU's costs page:

(Click for full size)

 

Oh... well. Hmmm. We've got a question. What exactly does Mr. Freedman mean by "I understand that if you dig deep into the webpage, you can see what LST was doing here"? Generally, that phrase "I understand that..." is used to mean, "I haven't actually checked for myself, but..." Why not just look for himself? If he had, he would understand that the very first thing you see is the school's published cost of attendance (it's older data, because LST updates based on ABA information, rather than continuously checking all 200+ school websites for updates). You have to dig deep (below the fold) just to find the information Stevensman is complaining about, which is in a table that is rather clearly labeled as being a hypothetical projection. And the disclaimers are right there.

So, in order to get the information Freedman is so upset about, you'd have to close your eyes, start digging, and then stop digging at the exact right spot. What a wonderful innovation. We're going to give the Steven Freedman Digging Technique a try and see what we come up with from his post:

Did you know that I hope you don't attend law school? Which is another way of saying law school is a product of a bungled ABA.

Wow! Did you know a law school assistant dean of admissions said that!? See our application of Freedman's digging technique below. It's just amazing what you can get when you dig for exactly what you want and ignore everything else around it.


Did you know that Kansas Law charges $21,173 for in-state, resident tuition? That Iowa Law charges $51,864 for non-resident tuition?

Well I hope you don’t know any of that, because all of that is grossly inaccurate. In fact, here at Kansas we posted our tuition rate of $19,985 in July 2014. Iowa Law has made available its $41,296 annual non-resident tuition available for a similar time period. As for the federal direct loan interest rates, the Department of Education posted the correct interest rates for student loans way back in May 2014 (between 5.41% and 7.21% depending on when the first disbursement occurred). So you would think a webpage that estimates how much it costs to attend law school for the Class of 2013 would use these published figures. Well, despite this data being freely available and very easy to find, Law School Transparency does not use this information when calculating their cost of attendance estimates. Instead of using accurate, available data, they rely on projected estimates for law school tuition and for federal loan interest rates, which is another way of saying they’re using guesstimated data instead of real, available data. As a consequence, their estimate assumes Iowa students are paying $51,864 when we know they are paying $41,296. Not surprisingly, this error causes LST to significantly over-estimate the cost of law school. This is not specific to the entry for Kansas or Iowa, they have used the same method for all 200+ law school entries on their website.

[...] Listen, I like Law School Transparency. I think they’ve been effective pushing law schools to be more accurate and transparent in their reporting, and that’s a good thing. And I suspect this is a product of a bungled, confusing webpage and a failure to make timely updates, rather than some devious plan to mislead the public. [...]

LST presumably knows these numbers are wrong, which raises the question as to what is LST’s duty to correct the record? As Ben Barros posted last week, followers of LST organized to update all 200+ ABA accredited law schools’ wikipedia entries with tuition and employment information based on LST’s faulty numbers. Will LST correct its own website? Will it encourage its followers to correct the Wikipedia entries?


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