Summer School – Is it 65% better than regular school?

Recently I learned about ASU law school’s Tech Ventures Clinic.  It’s an awesome program where law students get to work with entrepreneurs who don’t have the capital to hire a lawyer to get legal assistance with their start-up companies.  As soon as I heard what this clinic did, I wanted to participate in it.  This is definitely an area of law where I think I would be successful working after law school.  The clinic is 6 credits and requires 20 hours of work each week.

Money Grab
Image by Steve Wampler via Flickr

I was planning on taking three classes during spring semester next year – Business Organizations, Tax, and Decedent’s Estates.  Ideally, I’d like to take no more than 12 credits total if I’m going to participate in a clinic.  I decided to look into taking one class over the summer to decrease my course load next year.

It was hard to find the tuition rates for summer school.  I started digging around on the law school’s website and stumbled onto the 2007 summer tuition rates.  In 2007, a 3-credit class cost $2,164.   That seemed to be a reasonable price.  I figured the price might have gone up a bit with the state’s budget crisis and inflation.  I requested the 2010 summer rates from the law school’s financial aid office.  I was shocked when I saw that the cost for a 3-credit class this summer is $3,499!  That’s a 62% increase!

I did the math.  Currently, I pay $705/credit.  If I went to summer school, I’d be paying $1166/credit.  That’s 65% higher.

I took my concerns to the law school.  They said that the cost is the same whether you’re taking a class for credit or  auditing it.  One higher up in the school said the cost has risen so much that they encourage students not to take summer school because the cost is so high.  It has become cost-prohibitive to go to summer school.

I want to give the school money this summer, but they’ve set the minimum so high that I can’t do it.  This is unfortunate because so many law firms and agencies don’t have the means to hire summer clerks.  For a lot of law students, going to summer school is one way to gain legal experience by doing an externship; however they have to pay for that experience.  I know multiple students who are looking for volunteer positions so they don’t have to pay to gain legal experience this summer.

The law school said there’s basically nothing they can do to help me in this situation.  I sent an email to Michael Crow, President of ASU, informing him about the alarming tuition rates this summer and asking him what advice he can offer to students who want to take advantage of all ASU can offer without spending an atrocious amount of money or going horribly into debt.  I look forward to hearing what he has to say.

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