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In an email sent by the dean a few weeks ago, he told the VLS community:

The 2013 Best Grad Schools rankings were released by US News today.  VLS placed among the nation’s top programs in a number of areas, environmental  law (rank 1st), dispute resolution (rank 16th), clinical training (rank 23rd), law schools where law firms tend to recruit (rank 96th–out of more than 200).

There is another category, however less glamorous it may be, that VLS ranks rather highly: most law school debt accumulated upon graduation.  #16, baby!  With tuition going up 4% next year, we may just beat out our dispute resolution program at the number 16 spot.

Students are in the dark as to why tuition keeps rising, when more staff and faculty are being laid off and  more federal funding is coming in (shouldn’t we be feeling that post-DADT funding now that it has been repealed?  Or do we just have to suffer the military recruiters on campus without any financial benefit?).  Student enrollment continues to be low, but lets look at the numbers and the economy.  It is now $45,207 a year to get a JD here, and even with a median scholarship amount of $15,675 given to 71.4% of students, one can understand a collective hesitation to invest so much money into an education from a third tier school in a tight economy, with everything going around about the legal market, especially.

Not to say these are easy problems for the administration to solve, but what would happen if there was more transparency at our small, private school about how money is being managed?  Thank goodness for outside resources.

Sometimes I wonder what it would mean for VLS if we became part of a larger institution, like UVM (most non-VLSers already assume we are with them, anyway).  Would becoming a public institution or otherwise help with our budget concerns, or would it be at the cost of sacrificing what we are as an independent law school?  Considering we are in the middle of nowhere, 70 minutes from Burlington, maybe it would not make much sense to join up with UVM, or on the other hand, we could have less fear of being corrupted by outside players there.

Food for thought.  I hope students become more involved in school management of funds as tuition keeps rising, before not enrolling or even not bothering with the LSAT become the main forms of protest of these numbers and policies.


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