Here’s something you rarely hear at the beginning of the academic year or the launch of a new semester. Your tuition is going down. Music to the ears of students enrolled in the Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, where the board of directors has approved a bold plan this week to bring the cost of tuition down dramatically.
The Cooley Law School’s Board of Directors approved the plan at midweek in a move designed to sustain and strengthen the law school’s access mission. The plan will significantly reduce tuition, and address current and future campus efficiencies.
President and Dean James McGrath recommended, and the Board of Directors agreed, to reduce tuition from the current rate of $1,750 per credit hour to $1,375 per credit hour, that’s a drop of 21-percent.
McGrath says, “We realize that a significant part of providing access to legal education is cost. To put it simply, we became too expensive.”
The competitive 21 percent reduction will begin in the fall semester of 2020.
Board Chair Lawrence Nolan says, “Through effective fiscal management and generous donations, the law school is in a position to make this bold move.”
In addition to lowering tuition, the Board of Directors will take the steps necessary to seek approval from the American Bar Association and the Higher Learning Commission to close the Auburn Hills, Michigan, campus. The Board also authorized reducing the Lansing campus footprint.
McGrath says, “Our current campus structure was built at a time when the demand for legal education was significantly higher. By reducing our excess capacity we will have improved resources to strengthen our position as a leader of modern legal education.”
The law school’s administration anticipates continued operation of the Auburn Hills campus through December 2020, subject to approval of the ABA Council on Legal Education and the Higher Learning Commission. Each Auburn Hills student will receive individual advising on a degree completion plan.
The law school’s Board of Directors did not make any employment reduction decisions, noting that the school’s greatest asset is its deeply dedicated faculty and staff at all locations. Any employment reduction decisions will be made with the hope of maximizing voluntary attrition and relocating as many impacted employees as possible.
McGrath says, “The Board believes that lowering tuition, maintaining the higher admissions standards adopted in January 2019, and reducing its footprint will allow the law school to maintain its access mission, continue to serve a diverse population, improve student outcomes, and strengthen its affiliation with Western Michigan University.”
WMU-Cooley Law School resulted from the 2014 affiliation that combined Western’s status as a nationally-ranked, public, comprehensive research university with the commitment to practical legal education of an independent, non-profit, national law school. WMU-Cooley is accredited by both the American Bar Association and the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Since the law school’s founding in 1972, WMU-Cooley has provided more than 20,000 graduates with the practical skills necessary for a seamless transition from academia to the real world.