Law school median and mean debt loads, 2015-2017

The Department of Education has been releasing more disclosures to the public concerning higher education. Its most recent data disclosures include preliminary student loan debt loads over a two-year period, 2015-2017.

One useful piece of information is the median debt loads of students who incurred debt. USNWR discloses schools’ self-reported mean debt loads, although those figures are sometimes less than helpful due to school disclosure irregularities. But the mean may distort what a typical student’s loans look like, if a large batch of students borrow just a few dollars to cover perhaps the end of law school. That could artificially lower the mean, whereas the median law student may have much higher debt loads. (It could also work the other way.)

The Department of Education tables include both median and mean debt loads. Granted, this data, while better than the self-reported USNWR data, still has its share of flaws. I looked up every “law” program—many reported the degrees differently, usually “Doctoral Degree” or “First Professional Degree,” but I removed every self-described “Master’s Degree” program. I sorts the schools by median debt load. Included are the school types (public, private, and “proprietary” i.e., for-profit). Also included are the “count” of individuals in the two-year cohort (and you can view more about how the “count” and other terms are defined). The count includes those who completed the program in that time period. (Some were listed as “Privacy Suppressed,” which I converted to “n/a.”) Recall, too, that these are only those who incurred debt; a good number of students graduate each year without incurring law schools. (For a sense of those figures, check out the latest USNWR disclosures. Many schools report that at least 20% of their graduates, sometimes more, incur no debt.)

I’ll start with the top 20 schools in median debt.

Law
School
School Type Count Median Debt
Florida Coastal School Of
Law
Proprietary 476 $198,655
Whittier College Private 237 $196,008
Thomas Jefferson School
Of Law
Private 337 $195,892
University Of San
Francisco
Private n/a $195,820
Southwestern Law School Private 540 $193,653
Charlotte School Of Law Proprietary n/a $188,985
Arizona Summit Law School Proprietary 272 $188,191
New York University Private 570 $183,857
Atlanta’s John Marshall
Law School
Proprietary 287 $177,854
American University (The) Private 588 $177,157
Barry University Private 365 $168,309
New York Law School Private 414 $167,078
Golden Gate University Private 166 $166,264
Columbia University Private 513 $165,314
Georgetown University Private 937 $163,688
George Washington
University
Private 804 $163,300
Thomas M. Cooley Law
School
Private 641 $161,986
Pepperdine University Private n/a $161,300
Nova Southeastern
University
Private 133 $161,219
Santa Clara University Private 231 $160,558

Four for-profit schools are in the top 20. The remainder are in California (7), New York (3), the DC area (3), and Florida (2), along with Thomas M. Cooley Law School. (It’s also worth noting that Whittier, Charlotte, and Arizona Summit have announced their closures.)

Now for the bottom 20 schools, the ones with the lowest median debt among those who incurred debt:

Law
School
School Type Count Median Debt
Texas Tech University Public 185 $70,006
University Of Kentucky Public 194 $69,860
Temple University Public 308 $69,583
Georgia State University Public 293 $69,200
University Of Connecticut Public 214 $69,085
University Of Alabama Public 174 $68,992
Wayne State University Public 175 $67,640
University Of Kansas Public 170 $66,415
Mitchell Hamline School
Of Law
Private 409 $64,429
University Of Mississippi Public 167 $64,300
University Of Iowa Public 167 $62,249
University Of Arkansas Public 178 $61,500
University Of North
Dakota
Public 90 $61,500
University Of Tennessee Public 191 $61,500
University Of Wisconsin –
Madison
Public 263 $61,500
Taft University System
(The)
Proprietary 27 $61,500
Indiana Institute Of
Technology
Private 26 $59,650
University Of Nebraska Public 159 $59,124
Brigham Young University Private n/a $51,250
Santa Barbara And
Ventura Colleges Of Law
Private 36 $20,500

Unsurprisingly, most are public schools, many in lower cost-of-living locations. But near the bottom of the list are a pair of non-ABA-accredited law schools in California (Taft, and Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law), with relatively (in one case, quite) low reported debt loads. At the bottom of the list among ABA-accredited schools is the private BYU, at just $51,250 median debt load.

The entire table is below the jump. Additionally, I included the same table with the mean debt, too. Of course, recall that any data like this, particularly “preliminary,” may have inaccuracies, and some of the coding may mean that I’m inadvertently including or excluding certain institutions.

UPDATE: At least one school was incorrectly reported as “private” when it is “public.” I have made that change.


Law
School
School Type Count Median Debt
Florida Coastal School Of
Law
Proprietary 476 $198,655
Whittier College Private 237 $196,008
Thomas Jefferson School
Of Law
Private 337 $195,892
University Of San
Francisco
Private n/a $195,820
Southwestern Law School Private 540 $193,653
Charlotte School Of Law Proprietary n/a $188,985
Arizona Summit Law School Proprietary 272 $188,191
New York University Private 570 $183,857
Atlanta’s John Marshall
Law School
Proprietary 287 $177,854
American University (The) Private 588 $177,157
Barry University Private 365 $168,309
New York Law School Private 414 $167,078
Golden Gate University Private 166 $166,264
Columbia University Private 513 $165,314
Georgetown University Private 937 $163,688
George Washington
University
Private 804 $163,300
Thomas M. Cooley Law
School
Private 641 $161,986
Pepperdine University Private n/a $161,300
Nova Southeastern
University
Private 133 $161,219
Santa Clara University Private 231 $160,558
Elon University Private 77 $160,285
University Of The Pacific Private 244 $158,437
University Of Virginia Public 386 $158,376
Ave Maria School Of Law Private 115 $158,206
Howard University Private 219 $156,563
Northwestern University Private 329 $156,418
Seattle University Private 375 $155,575
Charleston School Of Law Proprietary 206 $154,378
Willamette University Private 182 $154,190
Marquette University Private 322 $154,154
John Marshall Law School
(The)
Private n/a $154,079
Cornell University Private n/a $153,937
Fordham University Private 428 $151,250
University Of California,
Berkeley
Public 433 $150,862
Touro College Private 228 $150,767
University Of Miami Private 388 $150,659
University Of Detroit
Mercy
Private 119 $149,993
University Of
Pennsylvania
Private 331 $149,729
Saint Thomas University Private n/a $149,322
California Western School
Of Law
Private 331 $149,246
Chapman University Private n/a $148,852
Hofstra University Private 328 $148,342
University Of Chicago
(The)
Private 268 $146,806
University Of Michigan –
Ann Arbor
Public 457 $145,182
Campbell University Private 196 $144,330
Loyola Marymount
University
Private 466 $144,200
University Of Denver Private 396 $143,237
Catholic University Of
America (The)
Private 195 $141,718
Loyola University Chicago Private 318 $141,244
Mercer University Private n/a $140,818
University Of La Verne Private 78 $140,182
Valparaiso University Private 241 $139,821
Duke University Private n/a $138,000
University Of California,
Hastings College Of The
Public 454 $137,787
Stetson University Private 444 $137,217
Samford University Private n/a $135,438
Southern Methodist
University
Private 283 $134,484
University Of San Diego Private 313 $134,348
Widener University Private 342 $134,228
Trinity International
University
Private n/a $133,925
Lewis & Clark College Private n/a $133,785
Harvard University Private 815 $133,617
Depaul University Private 363 $132,803
Creighton University Private 181 $132,800
Oklahoma City University Private n/a $132,586
South Texas College Of
Law Houston
Private 469 $132,415
Emory University Private 391 $131,738
University Of Notre Dame Private 279 $130,589
Loyola University New
Orleans
Private n/a $130,522
Western New England
University
Private n/a $129,662
University Of Southern
California
Private 283 $129,223
Capital University Private 172 $129,089
Vanderbilt University Private 235 $129,030
Suffolk University Private n/a $128,897
Mississippi College Private 196 $128,722
Yale University Private n/a $126,398
Seton Hall University Private 242 $126,050
Roger Williams University Private 169 $123,384
Tulane University Private 256 $121,757
University Of California,
Los Angeles
Public 469 $121,453
Belmont University Private n/a $120,498
Stanford University Private 250 $120,410
University Of Dayton Private n/a $120,274
University Of California,
Irvine
Public 67 $119,986
Texas A&M University Public 301 $119,803
Brooklyn Law School Private 544 $119,445
Regent University Private 134 $118,275
University Of Maryland,
Baltimore
Public 279 $118,155
Appalachian School Of Law Private 75 $117,964
Texas Southern University Public 249 $117,935
Drake University Private 76 $116,863
John F. Kennedy
University
Private n/a $116,722
Argosy University Proprietary 134 $114,795
George Mason University Public 174 $114,383
Wake Forest University Private 268 $113,656
Saint John’s University Private 321 $112,662
University Of Minnesota –
Twin Cities
Public 315 $111,766
Yeshiva University Private 388 $111,031
Boston University Private 308 $110,891
Albany Law School Of
Union University
Private n/a $110,549
University Of Baltimore Public 363 $109,510
Indiana University –
Purdue University Indianapoli
Public 122 $109,422
New England Law | Boston Private n/a $109,422
University Of Washington
– Seattle
Public 210 $109,405
Gonzaga University Private 176 $109,362
University Of North
Carolina – Chapel Hill
Public 302 $107,059
Saint Louis University Private n/a $106,638
University Of Texas At
Austin
Public 460 $106,283
Syracuse University Private 247 $106,000
Florida Agricultural
& Mechanical University
Public 150 $105,703
Northeastern University Private 231 $105,639
Florida International
University
Public n/a $104,971
Illinois Institute Of
Technology
Private 319 $104,921
Pace University Private 267 $102,821
University Of
Massachusetts – Dartmouth
Public n/a $102,500
St. Mary’s University Private 341 $102,500
University Of South
Carolina – Columbia
Public 319 $102,007
University Of Colorado
Boulder
Public 268 $101,626
University Of Pittsburgh
– Pittsburgh
Public 247 $101,186
Boston College Private 306 $100,594
Ohio Northern University Private n/a $100,224
Inter American University
Of Puerto Rico – School
Private 325 $99,403
College Of William &
Mary
Public 309 $98,700
University Of Missouri –
Kansas City
Public 235 $98,511
University Of California,
Davis
Public 209 $98,403
Southern Illinois
University At Carbondale
Public 201 $98,215
University Of Richmond Private 230 $97,625
Washington And Lee
University
Private 146 $97,276
Pontifical Catholic
University Of Puerto Rico
Private 278 $97,269
Ohio State University
(The)
Public 264 $97,238
University Of The
District Of Columbia
Public 60 $96,992
Pennsylvania State
University (The)
Public 243 $96,321
Southern University And
Agricultural & Mechanical
Public 187 $95,437
University Of Louisville Public 156 $94,503
University Of Southern
Maine
Public 132 $94,364
North Carolina Central
University
Public 316 $94,358
Arizona State University Public n/a $94,325
University Of Nevada –
Las Vegas
Public 184 $94,197
Concordia University Private 43 $93,755
University Of Houston Public 302 $92,067
Baylor University Private n/a $91,401
Lincoln Memorial
University
Private n/a $91,323
University Of Illinois At
Urbana-Champaign
Public n/a $90,928
State University Of New
York At Buffalo
Public 259 $90,928
Michigan State University
College Of Law
Private 425 $90,674
University Of New
Hampshire
Public n/a $89,700
Humphreys University Private 25 $89,317
University Of Oregon Public 180 $88,306
Drexel University Private 222 $87,864
University Of Idaho Public 193 $85,550
Indiana University –
Bloomington
Public 248 $85,162
University Of Florida Public 463 $84,508
Duquesne University Private 210 $84,428
University Of Saint
Thomas
Private 160 $84,261
West Virginia University Public 169 $84,227
University Of Wyoming Public 104 $84,032
University Of New Mexico Public n/a $83,999
Cleveland State
University
Public 179 $83,868
Villanova University Private 203 $83,761
Northern Illinois
University
Public 121 $83,660
Case Western Reserve
University
Private 171 $82,570
University Of Georgia Public 284 $82,480
Washburn University –
Topeka
Public 148 $82,194
Quinnipiac University Private 115 $82,000
Rutgers, The State
University Of New Jersey
Public n/a $82,000
University Of Toledo Public 142 $81,546
Washington University In
St. Louis
Private 269 $81,500
University Of Arizona
(The)
Public 162 $81,178
Florida State University Public 294 $81,159
Northern Kentucky
University
Public 136 $79,951
University Of Utah Public 187 $79,768
University Of South
Dakota
Public 109 $79,143
Cuny School Of Law
‘(The)’
Public 151 $78,224
University Of Hawaii At
Manoa
Public 127 $77,849
University Of Arkansas At
Little Rock
Public 116 $77,208
University Of Montana
(The)
Public 134 $76,666
University Of Memphis
(The)
Public 159 $76,622
Purdue University Global Public 74 $76,508
University Of Cincinnati Public 140 $76,173
Massachusetts School Of
Law At Andover
Private n/a $75,467
University Of Tulsa (The) Private 116 $75,326
University Of Oklahoma Public n/a $74,250
University Of Akron (The) Public 184 $73,756
University Of Missouri –
Columbia
Public 168 $71,603
Louisiana State
University
Public 258 $71,422
Texas Tech University Public 185 $70,006
University Of Kentucky Public 194 $69,860
Temple University Public 308 $69,583
Georgia State University Public 293 $69,200
University Of Connecticut Public 214 $69,085
University Of Alabama Public 174 $68,992
Wayne State University Public 175 $67,640
University Of Kansas Public 170 $66,415
Mitchell Hamline School
Of Law
Private 409 $64,429
University Of Mississippi Public 167 $64,300
University Of Iowa Public 167 $62,249
University Of Arkansas Public 178 $61,500
University Of North
Dakota
Public 90 $61,500
University Of Tennessee Public 191 $61,500
University Of Wisconsin –
Madison
Public 263 $61,500
Taft University System
(The)
Proprietary 27 $61,500
Indiana Institute Of
Technology
Private 26 $59,650
University Of Nebraska Public 159 $59,124
Brigham Young University Private n/a $51,250
Santa Barbara And Ventura
Colleges Of Law
Private 36 $20,500

 

Law
School
School Type Count Mean Debt
Thomas Jefferson School Of
Law
Private 337 $190,263
Southwestern Law School Private 540 $187,494
Whittier College Private 237 $186,978
Florida Coastal School Of
Law
Proprietary 476 $182,215
Touro College Private n/a $178,607
University Of San Francisco Private n/a $176,289
Arizona Summit Law School Proprietary 272 $175,459
Charlotte School Of Law Proprietary n/a $172,517
New York University Private 570 $170,700
American University (The) Private 588 $166,187
Atlanta’s John Marshall Law
School
Proprietary 287 $164,577
Georgetown University Private 937 $160,905
New York Law School Private 414 $160,222
Barry University Private 365 $156,543
Elon University Private 77 $155,958
Faulkner University Private 10 $154,834
Thomas M. Cooley Law School Private 641 $153,258
Golden Gate University Private 166 $153,104
Pepperdine University Private n/a $152,712
Columbia University Private 513 $151,400
Nova Southeastern
University
Private 133 $150,527
Ave Maria School Of Law Private 115 $150,525
John Marshall Law School
(The)
Private n/a $150,306
Howard University Private 219 $149,946
George Washington
University
Private 804 $149,904
University Of Virginia Public 386 $149,871
Willamette University Private 182 $148,864
Santa Clara University Private 231 $148,759
Saint Thomas University Private n/a $147,706
Touro College Private 228 $147,305
Fordham University Private 428 $147,020
Northwestern University Private 329 $146,926
University Of Miami Private 388 $146,684
California Western School
Of Law
Private 331 $146,536
University Of Pennsylvania Private 331 $146,402
Loyola Marymount University Private 466 $146,358
Charleston School Of Law Proprietary 206 $145,354
University Of The Pacific Private 244 $144,881
Seattle University Private 375 $143,904
University Of Denver Private 396 $143,871
University Of California,
Berkeley
Public 433 $143,418
Cornell University Private n/a $143,335
Marquette University Private 322 $142,402
Hofstra University Private 328 $140,548
Chapman University Private n/a $140,055
University Of La Verne Private 78 $139,824
Catholic University Of
America (The)
Private 195 $139,404
Mercer University Private n/a $138,036
Harvard University Private 815 $136,746
University Of Detroit Mercy Private 119 $135,700
University Of Chicago (The) Private 268 $134,795
University Of Michigan –
Ann Arbor
Public 457 $134,538
Duke University Private n/a $133,131
Lewis & Clark College Private n/a $132,824
Campbell University Private 196 $131,858
Valparaiso University Private 241 $131,103
Loyola University Chicago Private 318 $130,973
Widener University Private 342 $130,489
Trinity International
University
Private n/a $130,446
Southern Methodist
University
Private 283 $129,977
Stetson University Private 444 $129,753
University Of San Diego Private 313 $129,427
Creighton University Private 181 $129,223
Suffolk University Private n/a $128,405
Samford University Private n/a $126,954
Seton Hall University Private 242 $126,918
Tulane University Private 256 $125,898
Loyola University New
Orleans
Private n/a $125,774
University Of California,
Hastings College Of The
Public 454 $125,545
Mississippi College Private 196 $125,458
Western New England
University
Private n/a $125,446
University Of Southern
California
Private 283 $124,796
Depaul University Private 363 $124,285
Oklahoma City University Private n/a $124,005
South Texas College Of Law
Houston
Private 469 $122,530
Capital University Private 172 $122,388
University Of Notre Dame Private 279 $120,935
Baylor University Private n/a $120,798
University Of California,
Irvine
Public 67 $120,742
Belmont University Private n/a $120,657
Stanford University Private 250 $119,935
Vanderbilt University Private 235 $119,460
Yale University Private n/a $119,139
Argosy University Proprietary 134 $119,071
Regent University Private 134 $118,765
New England Law | Boston Private n/a $118,727
Emory University Private 391 $118,187
Drake University Private 76 $117,875
John F. Kennedy University Private n/a $117,788
Roger Williams University Private 169 $117,507
University Of California,
Los Angeles
Public 469 $117,431
Texas A&M University Public 301 $116,569
Brooklyn Law School Private 544 $115,290
University Of Maryland,
Baltimore
Public 279 $115,234
Saint John’s University Private 321 $114,793
Yeshiva University Private 388 $113,065
University Of Dayton Private n/a $111,690
University Of Baltimore Public 363 $111,218
Syracuse University Private 247 $110,287
St. Mary’s University Private 341 $110,159
George Mason University Public 174 $110,086
Wake Forest University Private 268 $109,384
Texas Southern University Public 249 $109,359
Pace University Private 267 $108,729
Indiana University – Purdue
University Indianapoli
Public 122 $107,843
Northeastern University Private 231 $107,260
Saint Louis University Private n/a $106,453
University Of Minnesota –
Twin Cities
Public 315 $105,304
Illinois Institute Of
Technology
Private 319 $105,102
University Of Washington –
Seattle
Public 210 $104,816
Appalachian School Of Law Private 75 $104,751
Gonzaga University Private 176 $104,061
Florida International
University
Public n/a $103,805
Hamline University Private n/a $103,549
Boston University Private 308 $103,412
Boston College Private 306 $103,300
Stetson University Private n/a $103,025
Albany Law School Of Union
University
Private n/a $102,647
University Of Massachusetts
– Dartmouth
Public n/a $102,166
University Of North
Carolina – Chapel Hill
Public 302 $102,039
University Of Pittsburgh –
Pittsburgh
Public 247 $100,937
University Of Colorado
Boulder
Public 268 $100,687
University Of Texas At
Austin
Public 460 $100,120
Washington And Lee
University
Private 146 $99,743
North Carolina Central
University
Public 316 $99,397
Ohio Northern University Private n/a $99,364
Florida Agricultural &
Mechanical University
Public 150 $99,241
University Of The District
Of Columbia
Public 60 $99,053
University Of Richmond Private 230 $98,256
Southern University And
Agricultural & Mechanical
Public 187 $97,877
University Of South
Carolina – Columbia
Public 319 $97,758
Duquesne University Private 210 $97,599
Pontifical Catholic
University Of Puerto Ric
Private 278 $97,174
Arizona State University Public n/a $96,920
University Of Illinois At
Urbana-Champaign
Public n/a $96,195
Pennsylvania State
University (The)
Public 243 $96,103
Villanova University Private 203 $95,946
University Of New Hampshire Public n/a $95,723
College Of William &
Mary
Public 309 $95,654
Inter American University
Of Puerto Rico – School
Private 325 $95,175
University Of Houston Public 302 $94,515
Drexel University Private 222 $94,453
Ohio State University (The) Public 264 $94,210
University Of Nevada – Las
Vegas
Public 184 $93,899
Humphreys University Private 25 $93,865
Quinnipiac University Private 115 $93,726
University Of California,
Davis
Public 209 $93,667
University Of Louisville Public 156 $93,612
Indiana University –
Bloomington
Public 248 $93,379
University Of Missouri –
Kansas City
Public 235 $93,104
Michigan State University
College Of Law
Private 425 $92,924
State University Of New
York At Buffalo
Public 259 $92,108
University Of Southern
Maine
Public 132 $91,522
Concordia University Private 43 $90,995
Washington University In
St. Louis
Private 269 $90,881
Southern Illinois
University At Carbondale
Public 201 $90,584
Lincoln Memorial University Private n/a $89,830
Case Western Reserve
University
Private 171 $89,821
University Of Oregon Public 180 $88,748
University Of Idaho Public 193 $88,218
University Of Saint Thomas Private 160 $87,679
University Of Utah Public 187 $87,311
University Of Wyoming Public 104 $87,084
Cleveland State University Public 179 $87,010
Northern Illinois
University
Public 121 $86,582
University Of Hawaii At
Manoa
Public 127 $85,910
Rutgers, The State
University Of New Jersey
Public n/a $85,182
Florida State University Public 294 $84,310
University Of Florida Public 463 $84,052
West Virginia University Public 169 $83,920
University Of Arizona (The) Public 162 $83,884
University Of South Dakota Public 109 $83,322
University Of Tulsa (The) Private 116 $83,107
Louisiana State University Public 258 $82,907
University Of Georgia Public 284 $82,605
Washburn University –
Topeka
Public 148 $81,972
University Of Oklahoma Public n/a $81,629
Alliant International
University
Proprietary n/a $81,410
University Of Memphis (The) Public 159 $81,224
Northern Kentucky
University
Public 136 $81,164
University Of Toledo Public 142 $81,143
University Of New Mexico Public n/a $80,068
Concordia University Private n/a $79,498
Texas Tech University Public 185 $79,436
University Of Kentucky Public 194 $79,160
University Of Akron (The) Public 184 $78,953
Temple University Public 308 $78,731
Massachusetts School Of Law
At Andover
Private n/a $78,433
Wayne State University Public 175 $78,042
Liberty University Private n/a $77,218
University Of Montana (The) Public 134 $76,804
University Of Alabama Public 174 $76,753
University Of Kansas Public 170 $76,195
Mitchell Hamline School Of
Law
Private 409 $74,963
University Of Tennessee Public 191 $74,744
Cuny School Of Law ‘(The)’ Public 151 $74,724
Purdue University Global Public 74 $72,513
University Of Cincinnati Public 140 $72,453
University Of Arkansas At
Little Rock
Public 116 $72,079
University Of Iowa Public 167 $71,536
University Of Wisconsin –
Madison
Public 263 $71,525
University Of Connecticut Public 214 $70,787
University Of Missouri –
Columbia
Public 168 $70,657
Georgia State University Public 293 $69,753
University Of Arkansas Public 178 $67,448
University Of Mississippi Public 167 $66,247
Indiana Institute Of
Technology
Private 26 $65,639
University Of Nebraska Public 159 $62,485
University Of North Dakota Public 90 $62,151
Taft University System
(The)
Proprietary 27 $60,581
Brigham Young University Private n/a $51,245
Santa Barbara And Ventura
Colleges Of Law
Private 36 $30,506


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