The Regents of the University of Iowa approved a 16.4% cut in both resident and non-resident law school tuition. The new non-resident tariff will be $39,500, down from $47,200 The new in-state tuition dips to $21,960. For at least one Regent, one big goal of tuition cuts is to bring the 1L class size back up. This year, Iowa's 1L class dropped from 155 to 94. Regent Larry McKibben commented that he hoped the tuition reduction "generates 20 more students to come there." The University has previously stated that its 1L class target is 150 students.
Important as sticker may be, scholarship levels - discounting - remain a crucial (if largely invisible) part of the law school pricing story. Iowa's strategy - like Penn State's new in-state discounting strategy - might reflect a hope that transparent, non-merit discounting will increase applicant pool size. My suspicion is that this strategy is particularly appealing to schools outside of large urban areas, where half the battle is getting students to apply. My guess, at least, is that in large cities, with multiple law schools, applicants apply broadly and look for the biggest individual discount. Iowa and Penn State may ultimately match the individual scholarships of their big-city competitors, but they need candidates to apply in order to even be in the fray.