Monday, November 16, 2009

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Raise Fees

Update 11/17 (Patrick): Deans E and H have promulgated a fact sheet (pdf) regarding fees, complete with a Kashmiri disclaimer and this cheerful observation: "With the sharp spike in system‐wide fee increases, we expect to meet our policy benchmark of 90% of market rate in 2011‐12, one year earlier than we had originally anticipated. You will note that fees for non‐resident students will be at market rates next year."

You can find a more detailed breakdown, courtesy of BHSA, by clicking here (pdf).


The UC Regents are voting next week to increase Boalt professional fees for residents by $6,072 (~22%) next year, part of which we will start paying for next semester. For non-residents, professional fees will go up by $1,827 (~7%). Yudof and his finance committee just released this yesterday:

The proposal charts out an astronomical climb in residents' fees from the current $36,487 to $44,220 next year, and $52,000 by 2013 (non-residents will see their fees increase from $48,732 to $52,220 next year.)

As 1Ls, we feel blind-sided by an increase of this magnitude. For many of us, the comparatively reasonable cost of attendance at Boalt was an important factor in our decision to attend. We anticipated the university would act reasonably and in good faith, entailing increases of - gee, I dunno... 3-5% annually? But 22%?


- L'Alex and Jackie O

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. I am one of the last people to get riled up about unfairness or injustice. But this fee increase is truly staggering.

On the slightly bright side, this eliminates the incentive for non residents to stay in California over the summer in order to get in-state tuition.

Finally, I don't think whiny protests are going to win the day here. Instead, vote with your feet. 1Ls: Start thinking about transferring.
3Ls: You won't have to bear the brunt of this increase.
2Ls: We got screwed again, as usual. Too late to transfer, and we have three semesters ahead of us.

11/16/2009 1:04 AM  
Blogger Armen said...

Seriously? I mean SERIOUSLY?

Question 1: Does this in any way deviate from DE's plan of putting us at market minus $5K? Yes? No? Don't know?

Question 2: You DO realize the University of California is still a state school that depends on state funding that is now in dire straits? If you did not know the above, then uh, welcome to California and now give me your wallet. If you did, then I don't know, perhaps the past 7 years of fee increases might have tipped you off that your fees would increase as well. This also ties in nicely with Question 1, where DE foresaw further deterioration of state finances following the dot com bubble burst (remember how the current governor got into office?) and made a deal with the Regents to permit PDF increases to take Boalt to a market minus $5K level in return for a promise that the Regents would not raid said funds to balance main campus budgets.

Judging by the post, this sounds nothing more than an ill-conceived, knee-jerk 1L whining that has no grasp of historical context of fees, campus politics, or anything else for that matter other than a sense-entitlement mixed with a healthy does of NIMBYism (also known as Kashmiri).

11/16/2009 1:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say that 3Ls are really getting off that easily. During our time here we have seen (and will continue to see next semester) our fees increase in percentage by a greater amount than any of the classes coming after us. Yours may be big now, but they were big when you started.

Though I understand your feelings Armen, despite knowledge of how the UC system works, the fee structure, the university's history of increases, inflation, the cost of living in the bay area, and any other things that you may want to add, there was never a disclosure of the magnitude of the increase we'd be seeing. I don't mind fees increasing (and I think the market less 5K is fine in the long run), but to have your fees nearly double in the span of three years is not foreseeable in even the most generous definition of the term.

11/16/2009 1:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


1:08 here. I think I am in general agreement with you, although it really does suck to have to pay so much more when jobs are scarce.

A few quick notes relating to what you said.

First, I think this does not deviate from DE's plan, except that it accelerates it. See page 12 of the linked document. ("Berkeley Law, for example, has sought to increase its fees to 90 percent of market rate; the program will achieve this benchmark in 2011-12, thus 2012-13 will see a substantially
reduced rate of fee growth).

Second, I am not sure if DE's deal panned out, and I can't tell from this document. It seems to me that it probably didn't, otherwise Boalt would not need to raise rates faster than it had already planned to.

Finally, it appears from the document that each program was allowed to decide how it wanted to set its rates. So perhaps DE will be able to share his thoughts on the matter with greater detail.

While I believe that some fee increases are absolutely necessary, I don't think there is anything wrong in students challenging the administration to explain its reasoning.

For anyone interested, according to page 15 of the document, Boalt intends to use this revenue to support LRAP, FinAid, and 6 new faculty positions.

11/16/2009 1:28 AM  
Blogger L'Alex said...

Armen, I understand that our post reads like something of a self-entitled whine-fest. However, consider that it was indeed a "knee-jerk" reaction to news that our administration failed to share with us before some astute students started circulating that document last night.

While we are aware of the state's dire financial situation (who isn't?) MANY students - particularly 1Ls - feel blind-sided and frightened by an increase of 22%. Not only is it a large chunk of change, but it signals an "all bets are off" attitude on the part of UC in sheltering its students from the sh*#show that is the CA economy.

If you don't want us to whine, then perhaps I can rephrase our main concern: What, exactly, can/should we expect from the school we are ALREADY making such an investment in? Should the answer be "nothing" just because we're living in CA? At the very least, I'd say some warning that this was a possibility would have been appropriate.

11/16/2009 7:01 AM  
Blogger Jackie O said...


Complaining about a 22% fee increase isn't really what I'd call "whiny" and I'm going to go out on a limb and say the vast majority of my classmates would agree with me.

As stated, some fee increases were expected and most incoming 1Ls were aware of the sad state of the CA economy. But throughout the recruiting process, admit day, etc. the affordability of Boalt was touted and for me that was a big factor in my decision. So now, after a semester here and without a backup plan, I think I'm justified in feeling a little manipulated.

And as L'Alex said, I don't appreciate that I have to hear about this from a forwarded email from a classmate and not DE or another administrator. Honest information is all I ask for. I didn't get it then and I'm not getting it now.

11/16/2009 7:55 AM  
Blogger Toney said...

Yeah, this sucks, really really terribly. Armen, there's no need to defend the nearly indefensible here. What was tuition when you went here? I'd wager less than half. Regardless of Berkeley being a public school and DE's master plan to save the world, the lack of our ability to foresee this (and subsequently factor this into our decision to attend) sucks, really really bad. These sort of fee increases are unprecedented. Tuition going up $5k-$6k/year just hasn't happened before.

In addition to law school costing nearly $20k more than I expected when I started, there is a pretty substantial problem in figuring out how to pay this increase. Student loans have not increased along with tuition. We're capped at $20.5k/year in non-shitty loans. Anything on top of that we're stuck with grad plus loans, with a 7.9% interest rate and 3% fee.

Anyway, all I can say to everyone is that I'm really really sorry. I did everything I could during admitted students day to let everyone know just how much the tuition increases suck. I really wish there was something we could do about this... It would be much more fair to lock tuition in during your tenure at Boalt (with modest increases), and just have each successive class pay higher tuition rates. At least then you can expect it.

11/16/2009 8:35 AM  
Blogger Bekki said...

If you go into BigLaw, you will earn enough to pay all your loans back. Yes, you might have to keep living like a student for a few years, but even at $140k/year it's more than doable.

If you go into public interest work, LRAP + the government's public interest program will guarantee that you don't pay much, if anything, as long as you stay in public interest for 10 years, take out only federal loans, and sign up for the 10 year Income Based Repayment plan.

If you go into a smaller firm that only pays something like 40 or 50k a year, you're still fine as long as you stick with only government loans. Sign up for the IBR plan, and if you're not paid off after 25 years the government will forgive it.

Bottom line: as long as the government doesn't change the newly structured loan repayment system, it doesn't matter how much you have to take out in loans, because if you don't go into BigLaw you won't be paying much of it back.

Besides, student loans look good on your credit report.

11/16/2009 8:41 AM  
Blogger Toney said...

Bekki - the argument that "you have to pay more but don't be mad because you can afford it" isn't very convincing.

One other interesting thing of note: Look at Display 1. The non-resident tuition is actually lower than the resident tuition in acknowledgement of the $12k non-resident tuition fee. That seems like a reverse P or I issue, if such a thing existed.

11/16/2009 8:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While the tuition increase is crazy, the worst part (for me) is that this really does not make us a state supported school anymore yet we will have to deal with all the problems that come with being a "state" school - like letting homeless people wander around the school and sit in on classes...

11/16/2009 8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, it's far from unprecedented. It's not even as bad as what happened before. Between '02-'03 and '03-'04, tuition went up around $10K, which was about an 80 percent increase. That's what inspired two rounds of class action lawsuits, for the classes of '05 and '06, who saw their fees essentially double between when they accepted and when they graduated.

11/16/2009 9:09 AM  
Blogger L'Alex said...

9:09, I think the difference between the increases in '02-'04 and this 22% increase is where we're going to land relative to our peer institutions. For a long time, Boalt was a bargain - but that's no longer the case.

11/16/2009 9:26 AM  
Blogger Armen said...

So the complaint is still that you all didn't know about this? (I suspected as much when asking my first question above.) You're something like in the third year of a plan to increase fees by 20% a year for five years and you're arguing you weren't aware? Now, I realize that UC budgeting is something akin to black ops appropriation, where nothing is set in stone even after a budget is approved by the Legislature. But a simple search yields at least 1 2 3 examples of DE's plan to raise our fees until we are at market minus $5K (Michigan's model, essentially). So, honestly now, raise your hand if you were REALLY "blindsided" by a fee increase that is the very definition of precedented.

Toney, if you want to inquire about the fees we paid, then you also should inquire about the facilities, lack of faculty, lack of student space, falling rankings, and everything else that came with those "lower fees." Or you can inquire about fee increases that went to spreadsheets as opposed to any concrete (no pun intended) programs at Boalt. Either way, "indefensible" is hardly the appropriate term here. I'd go with selfish. It's a little strong, but I think it captures the sentiments of current students who fail to grasp that something is good for everyone in the long-term (and it applies with equal force to students past).

11/16/2009 9:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's the mid-semesterness of this fee hike that really gets me. It makes it extremely hard for students to plan in any meaningful way. Are they going to recalculate everyone's financial aid to see if anyone qualifies for more grant aid now?

11/16/2009 9:30 AM  
Blogger Bekki said...

Tony -

If you're not upset because you're worried about not being able to pay for it, then what are you upset about?

Various 1L's -

This is what happens when the people of a state collectively decide that they're more concerned about whether a chicken can flap its wings and turn around in its cage than they are about education. If I were you, I'd start emailing or calling my reps about that Constitutional convention.

11/16/2009 9:34 AM  
Blogger Armen said...

9:09, I think the difference between the increases in '02-'04 and this 22% increase is where we're going to land relative to our peer institutions. For a long time, Boalt was a bargain - but that's no longer the case.

L'Alex, no offense, but this captures perfectly what I'm trying to convey...namely you really have not concerned yourself with the school's future plans and now jump in to complain when the plan actually affects you. I empathize with the situation you guys are in. As 9:09 pointed out, we went through some crazy fee increases that had nothing to do with Boalt. But this is really the only sane way that the school can accomplish two essential, and long neglected goals: (a) alter the 1960s mindset of begging the Legislature for more funding as opposed to relying on traditional sources of revenue (student fees, alumni giving, corporate grants etc.) and (b) improving the facilities, increasing faculty, improving fin aid, adding inter-disciplinary centers, yada yada yada (I'm dating myself). Boalt as a "bargain" is now a myth. You cannot have a school that's a bargain in California. Period.

11/16/2009 9:34 AM  
Blogger L'Alex said...

Armen, I respect your pushback. However, I'd like to point out that this is the message DE gave incoming 1Ls last June. Note that the message varies significantly from what you're selling as the obviously dire situation we've been in for awhile:

I write to update you on the financial situation at the Law School in light of the on-going budget crisis in California and the consequent challenges for UC Berkeley. My central message is one of reassurance: We will continue to offer the best education of any law school on this or any nearby planet. At this point I foresee few if any budget cuts that will have material near-term effects on students...

Please be clear, however, that the budget situation remains fluid... The Law School is in remarkably sound shape compared with most other campus units, and compared with most of our peer institutions. There are several reasons: our strategy of steadily raising tuition closer towards a benchmark of about 10% below the average of top-10 schools; the $125 million capital campaign has produced successive years of record alumni contributions; our low dependence on state appropriations, relative to other campus units, because the state support for the Law School was disproportionately cut during the recession earlier in the decade; the relatively small contribution of endowment income in our revenue stream, relative to other top-10 schools. The last two points mean we are more insulated than we would otherwise be from sharp state budget cuts and the Wall Street meltdown.

11/16/2009 9:44 AM  
Blogger Armen said...

So you WERE informed that the school will continue to increase fees until we get to Michigan. And his message is spot on...because of his reforms, the school is now in a much better shape to weather economic storms. What am I missing? What is it precisely that you're griping about? Did you misread his statement to imply that the fees will remain steady at 2009 levels throughout your education?

11/16/2009 9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's also really hard to believe anyone who says that they had no idea tuition would continue to go up. Before you went to law school, you were in the position of a potential home buyer who would have to take on an ARM to finance the purchase. You have to do your homework. Your homework in this case would have shown you that the UC has historically increased fees, and Boalt's fees have skyrocketed in the last 10 years. You knew that the state was having financial troubles when you decided on Boalt - and the state's funding is the only reason our fees should be less than private schools'.

Yet you chose Boalt anyway. Somehow I think that, like the rest of us in the last five years, the fees weren't a huge factor in your decision-making process. If they were, you would have done your research and seen that they were probably going to continue going up. If they weren't, then welcome to the Boalt boat. We're all here with you, and we have no recourse except to the legislature.

11/16/2009 10:13 AM  
Blogger L'Alex said...

Armen, I'm not disputing the fact that DE has done wonders for the school. However, as 1:08 pointed out earlier, I think many students reasonably assumed that DEs plans would be more gradual (read: such that we would not feel the full brunt of it during our time here.) On that token, I don't think I missed something when I didn't read a 22% spike in ONE YEAR from DE's assuring email last summer.

11/16/2009 10:14 AM  
Blogger Armen said...

You're right. The plan calls for 20% per year over five years. You are free to complain about the additional 2%. Though considering the sharp economic downturn (which has also affected alumni giving--the other major source of revenue), I think an additional 2% is acceptable.

Sardonic snides aside, I think Boalt is very fortunate to have Yudof at the helm. He comes from a law school that has weaned itself from state funding and understands DE's plan. That cannot go understated. If we had another UCSD chancellor promoted to UCOP, then I think Boalt's finances would be in a far worse situation. Again, perspective...that's all I ask.

11/16/2009 10:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alex's comment is perfectly valid -- the increase is much higher than planned or disclosed, in large part because the mid-year increase is a Regental beast that we didn't anticipate. The effective increase in fees is well beyond a 5 or 10% increase to the professional fee, which is easier to attune to and which we all knew about.

The back-end re: payment (Bekki's post) is almost irrelevant to two important issues Alex alludes to:
1. The inherent importance of a public law school (which, for at least 5 years has been thrown down the drain in lieu of quasi-privatization), and
2. The sticker shock of applying to Boalt.

I am pretty fierce about public universities, but DE had already told us he doesn't believe in public law schools. I am more concerned about sticker shock, primarily because it will impact the ability of low-income and first-generation law students to apply to, and attend, Boalt. The debt burden is heavy, particularly for those who support their families, or who dedicate a large portion of their summer (private) earnings to that kind of family support. Without rigorous and aggressive financial aid support, both during and after law school, we are signing off on writing out the regional, socioeconomic, and racial/ethnic diversity of the applicant pool.

11/16/2009 10:23 AM  
Blogger Toney said...

Armen, since you didn't have to pay the higher fees, you get ZERO say in whether or not we can bitch about it. It's one thing to point out that fee increases are good for the future of Boalt, but it accomplishes nothing to treat people unhappy with them as petty and selfish.

I would trade a 6th ranking, the student center, the non-air conditioned classes down campus at the metal Hearst Annex, and never having classroom garbages emptied for $60k less debt, a 12 ranking, a usable courtyard and classes that aren't interrupted by tractors every 3 minutes.

Apologies if our bitching offends your delicate sensibilities, but it's natural.

And Bekki, just because someone can afford paying more doesn't mean that they won't be happy by having to. If I could afford getting robbed at gunpoint, I'd still be upset. I know this isn't lost on you.

11/16/2009 10:24 AM  
Blogger Jackie O said...

Armen, I think you're missing something - "steadily raising tuition."

Is 22% a steady increase? Not in my world. And does this fall within DE's plan to be at market value minus 10%? This proposal takes us to $44,000 a year. That's the tuition and fees currently at NYU, Michigan, Chicago and others right now. Granted, they will likely make some increases for 2010 (I bet not 22%), but it seems this increase will put us closer to market value, not market value minus 10%.

It's the steady part though. I agree with your point about thinking about the benefit of Boalt as a whole and future generations. But should the classes of 2012, 11, and 10 really be expected to bear the bulk of the burden and not voice a complaint? Spread it out. Increase gradually. That's what we were lead to believe and that's why we're all a little set back.

11/16/2009 10:27 AM  
Blogger trentblase said...

Yes, everyone who thinks this is unprecedented or unforeseeable, see exhibit B (page 8). Of course, you could try to react the same way as those students and sue (not that I think that would work).

11/16/2009 10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Armen, Yudof is an asshole, and Dynes was one, too. If your vision of an improved public university is a privatized university (which is effectively what Yudof did to UTexas and is now doing to UC), then sure, by all means, cheer him on.

As a Californian steeped in UC/CSU, I have been disgusted by UC administrators' willingness to abandon public higher education and the Master Plan. I don't contest that the State Legislature and Governor are short-sighted and stupid, but it does not help that UC Administrators have balanced their mismanagement on the backs of staff, students, and now faculty. It's also no surprise that administrator salaries have increased at the same pace as student fees despite cuts to services, salary freezes, and now furloughs throughout the system.

The increases have not been 2% increases, which would pace closer to inflation. They have been dramatic (over 10-30%) and have priced thousands of UC-eligible students out of higher education.

11/16/2009 10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The trash situation is out of control. It's ironic that a law school--an institution that studies game theory problems quite literally every day--would expect 700 people to organize a collective effort to keep clean. It's been this way for fifty years. (E-mail sent out by KVH confirms it.)

11/16/2009 10:31 AM  
Blogger Armen said...

Toney, you use the term "higher fees" (something that's relative) with the absolute quantity (ZERO). I did pay higher fees. As a percentage, they were far higher than yours. And since I'm subsidizing your education, I get a lot of say. Your rhetoric is neither on point, nor impressive, and just adds to my belief that this is nothing more than the rant of whiners who have no grasp of what's really at stake. Your post changed nothing.

10:29 -- I understand your position and as someone who has received a public education my entire life, I too regret the disappearance of public law schools in California. But I also think this is the only real option. None of our peer public schools depend on state funding. Imagine if Michigan depended on state funding? Isn't Canada about to foreclose on that state or something? I'd also add that my 2% remark was in reference to the 2% above and beyond the 20% increase in fees that DE has telegraphed since 2005. Sorry if I wasn't clear.

11/16/2009 10:35 AM  
Blogger Armen said...

(former 10:32, I chuckled, but I ask you keep my job out of it. Thanks.)

11/16/2009 10:36 AM  
Anonymous Stu T. said...

Let's approach this logically.

1. Yes, this sucks. Let's acknowledge that emotion. I think making extended postings elaborating on that reaction is intellectually limited.
2. The University is receiving fewer and fewer funds from the state. It thus seems that unless the University is misusing these funds, it genuinely needs additional money or it will suffer decreased quality of service and decreased ranking status/prestige.
3. After attending Berkeley for 4 years and working in the financial department for 2 years, I have no good reason to suspect that the University is misusing money such that reform would eliminate, or substantially reduce, the need for additional funds.
4. Thus, the decision seems very likely to be a) accept the increase in tuition to fund the school, or b) accept the decrease in quality of service and ranking.
5. It seems to me that a decrease in the quality is sufficiently undesirable that an increase in tuition should be accepted as the best option, admittedly with some discomfort. I think this is particularly true given that it is Berkeley, the most prestigious of the UC schools. If the UC is to continue to span the market of school quality, students at Berkeley may have to accept the cost of being at the top.

11/16/2009 10:42 AM  
Blogger Toney said...

Armen, "an extra $60k" is about as concrete as it gets. And you're completely missing the point. We (at least, me) are whining, but it is completely justified. Proclaiming "it's for the greater good!" is self-righteous, and makes you look like an asshole.

Did you bitch about paying more money back in your day? I suspect you did.

11/16/2009 10:42 AM  
Blogger Armen said...

OK in the interest of fairness, I'm going to zap 10:37 too. Let's just leave the ad hominems out. It's Monday, fees are going up, California's trying to swindle me into an interest free loan, and I lost my fantasy football game this week.

11/16/2009 10:43 AM  
Blogger Jackie O said...

10:37 - It's so refreshing and original when someone makes a broad, incorrect generalization about several hundred people.

Armen, can we get your thoughts on the steadiness issue please?

11/16/2009 10:44 AM  
Blogger Armen said...

Toney, no I didn't. We can add that to the category of things "Toney's wrong about."

11/16/2009 10:45 AM  
Blogger Toney said...

Armen, fair enough, though you are likely the only person ever to not bitch about having to pay more for something.

Add that to the "Saint Armen" category.

11/16/2009 10:46 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Toney, I don't think Armen is the only one.

11/16/2009 10:47 AM  
Blogger Armen said...

Toney, still wrong.

Jackie-O, steadiness issue?

11/16/2009 10:48 AM  
Blogger L'Alex said...

10:37, I take issue with your characterization of the Boalties who have expressed concern in this thread. As someone who worked 3 jobs during undergrad to put myself through a UC (dealing with all the same administrative garbage we're discussing presently) I speak on behalf of myself and many of my classmates when I say we are not just a bunch of spoiled whiners.

11/16/2009 10:48 AM  
Blogger Toney said...

Of course Patrick is going to agree with you Armen. Didn't you two come from the same womb?

11/16/2009 10:49 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Compare Armen to my mother and I think you'll find that's impossible. She's sweet, kind, and beautiful.

11/16/2009 10:50 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

I think we score that as follows: Patrick 5, Toney 3, Armen -10.

11/16/2009 10:51 AM  
Blogger Armen said...

I have nothing to do with wombs in Idaho.

11/16/2009 10:51 AM  
Blogger Jackie O said...

I'm referring to my post at 10:27.

11/16/2009 10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SF to 190k!

11/16/2009 10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can someone explain to me why we are mad at the UC Administrators and striking instead of blaming our lawmakers who set the budget and blaming the voters who passed Prop 13?

UC is only given so much by the Legislature. Ultimately they have to make do with what they are given.

The passage of Prop 13 puts such a strain on local governments' ability to raise its own revenues that municipalities must rely on the state for money. This puts an even greater strain on the state budget.

If we really think that these fee hikes are completely the fault of the UC administrators, why doesn't someone propose a budget that would eliminate the need for such drastic fee hikes?

I understand that we are angry about how much administrators earn and what they are spending it on (such as billion dollar construction projects), but I don't think cutting Yudoff's salary is going to solve the problem and when I last said that the construction at Boalt was unnecessary, I was attacked.

Why should I direct all my anger at the UC administrators when they are just trying to allocate what they were given as best they can?

Why are we giving the Legislature a free pass on this? Shouldn't we go to Sacramento and protest there? Shouldn't we organize a massive letter-writing campaign?

11/16/2009 11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Other law students at T14 schools somehow get by with all their debt. We will too (although, yes, it sucks).

This should not be an undue burden for those going into the private sector, they should be able to pay this back easily.

For those going into the public sector, remember that these fees are being used in large part to support LRAP and Financial Aid.

11/16/2009 11:04 AM  
Blogger Armen said...

Ah, got it. There was another plan discussed, where the fees are increased by entering class, but each class pays the same fee during its 3 years at Boalt. But that did not get us the funding needed for faculty increases and building improvements at the pace that DE wanted. Plus there were other drawbacks, e.g., my evidence course is worth more than your evidence course type of a thing. So instead, the school chose the ~20% over 5 years approach. But this is not "unprecedented" or anything of the sort because you're now, by my count, the third year of this plan (though I could be wrong).

As for the total fee amount, I don't know what other schools will do, but from what I recall, finance folks have modeled the fee increases and that's how they determine what market - 10% will be in X years. That's the best explanation I have of that.

11/16/2009 11:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi guys.

This has been fun.


11/16/2009 11:08 AM  
Blogger Armen said...

My post at 11:05 was to Jackie-O.

11:04, at least 1/3 I think is for fin aid of some sort.

11/16/2009 11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A student strike sounds silly and counterproductive.

What can I gain by not attending class that I have already paid for?

11/16/2009 11:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to clarify this loan increase does not go into effect until August 2010, correct?

11/16/2009 11:42 AM  
Anonymous Liz said...

To 11:04 (and Armen):

It remains to be seen how these increases will impact the LRAP program. In fact, there have been some rumors of cutbacks to the coverage of the program that may make it impossible for graduates with average loan debt to work for private public interest firms in the fields of immigration, environmental protection, and labor and employment law, i.e. low-bono jobs.

As to Becki's comment about the government programs, these jobs would not be covered by the government public interest program, and thus the loans would be stretched out over 25 years, adding significant interest costs to the original value of the loans.

The LRAP has been one of the main justifications for increasing fees, but we need to make sure that, as fees continue to rise, the program is adjusted to live up to its goal of providing career choice for boalt grads committed to practicing law in the public interest.

I think that the LRAP should use a law-relatedness test and an income test, and get rid of the requirement that the employer be a government agency or nonprofit. Plenty of very crucial public interest lawyering is done by small firms paying their incoming lawyers $40-$60k per year. They shouldn't be left out of LRAP.

11/16/2009 12:10 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

I agree. The flip side of the fee increases was a promise to have the leading public interest / public sector funding.

11/16/2009 12:17 PM  
Blogger Camille said...

To Liz,

Speculation on the LRAP program (specifically, saying it's being "cut back") is misleading, and some of the points you've raised are factually incorrect. While fees and finaid are linked, they are not guided by the same decisions.

I would encourage students to contact their Financial Aid reps (Christine, Michelle, Tam, Thomas -- email me for their info) if they have questions about the current structure of LRAP.

I agree that it will be important to preserve LRAP in the future. I would like to note that the increase in campus fees will not fund LRAP, but the increase in the professional fee will. I'll try to write a one-pager today, with graphics, explaining all of this and post to the BHSA blog today.


11/16/2009 12:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DE E-mail - $579 increase for spring semester.

3Ls win.

Armen - get back to wrok.

11/16/2009 12:41 PM  
Blogger L'Alex said...

Yay transparency. DE's email suggests the media buzz around the increases are totally overblown - and makes it seem like all we're facing is a $579 tuition increase next semester. It successfully avoids any mention of the report in this post or the 22% increase (hopefully these details will be contained in the follow-up email he alluded to.)

11/16/2009 1:57 PM  
Anonymous Liz said...


My apologies. It's hard not to speculate when there is no information available.

See, for example, the page where LRAP eligibility guidelines are supposed to be, which currently contains the following message:

"This page is currently under construction and will be available soon. Please check back regularly for the eligibility guidelines for the classes of 1997 through 2012."

It's been this way for a while now.

11/16/2009 2:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope L'Alex is getting his transfer applications ready.

No one is asking him to attend Boalt. No one will be forcing him to pay the increased fee. He can transfer out if he truly does not want to pay the fees.

Bitch all you want, L'Alex, but unless you have drafted a budget that will prevent any fee increases, you're complaints do no good. The school does not operate off an unlimited budget. It has to make due with what it has. If you would rather pay less and take all your courses in classes of 90 with very limited course selections, then fine.

But some of us recognize that the state is in dire straits. The UC system isn't hiding money from us. I'm willing to pay the higher fees if it means maintaining or increasing the quality of education we receive.

11/16/2009 2:31 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

2:31, I'm pretty sure L'Alex is a girl.

Do y'all know what Edley means when he says the focus in January will be on the "monger term?" Sounds racist.

11/16/2009 2:37 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

Dan, I think that's a typo. He meant Munger.

11/16/2009 2:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

stop ragging on the 1Ls for being a little shell-shocked by the's one thing to handle a major undergrad tuition hike (which we dealt with constantly at ucla and always spoke up as a community -- improvements to the school as an argument or not)'s quite another to be handling another $8,000 when we were really given the impression that in-state tuition was going to help not only CA residents afford law school, but out-of-staters as well.

no, i didn't come to boalt for the tuition alone. however, armen, you must have serious self-confidence issues if you're recommending that 1Ls just shut up and accept it because "you did."

11/16/2009 2:44 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

Oh I have a lot of issues, I don't know if self-confidence is one of them though. I also don't recall saying anything of the sort. I only ask that you inform yourself of the larger context of these fee increases. There's room for a variety of opinions and reasonable debate. But, again, with all due respect to my co-bloggers, this post simply displays naivete and lack of knowledge about Boalt's plans for fee increases.

If I had self-confidence issues I'd point out that I paid $3600 a year for UCLA and stick my tongue out.

11/16/2009 2:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From DE:

To the Boalt On-Campus Community:

I write to clarify, briefly, the situation regarding tuition, and also to comment on the impending "strike" concerning budget and related matters.

1. Tuition increase of $579. At their meeting this week in Los Angeles the UC Board of Regents will adopt tuition increases for all UC students by raising the so-called "registration and education fees". For Boalt students this will mean a $579 increase in tuition for the spring semester. The San Francisco Chronicle, quite characteristically, wrote a confused story that gave many people the mistaken impression that far larger increases are at issue. Dean Annik Hirschen will distribute more detail.

We have planned a student town hall meeting on tuition and Law School finances, something I do at least once each year. At the recommendation of the Boalt all Student Association, that meeting will take place in January and focus on tuition issues for next academic year and beyond. The meeting will be after exams because the inevitability of this week's action by the Regents has been clear to observers for quite some time. Our focus in January will be monger term. For example, since four years ago Boalt has followed a policy of gradually increasing tuition to more closely approximate that of our peer law schools, both public and private. This revenue has supported the expansion of financial aid and the Loan Repayment Assistance Program, the hiring of additional faculty, the various construction projects you see and hear, and other improvements in the school.

2. Strike. Several groups have called for a UC-wide "strike" on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, coinciding with the Regents' meeting, although not all organizers seem concerned about precisely the same issues, or agreed on any proposed remedies or demands. I hope that Boalt faculty will bear in mind that there will certainly be students who want and expect their classes to meet as scheduled, especially considering the time of the semester. I hope students will bear in mind that the school lacks the facility to record or reschedule classes on a wholesale basis, and in any case it would be inappropriate to have any official program to do so. (This is especially true in light of accreditation requirements for regular classroom hours to ensure attendance.)

Thanks much.

Christopher Edley, Jr.
Dean and Orrick Professor of Law
Boalt Hall, U.C. Berkele

11/16/2009 3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, as I occasionally do, I strolled over to Nuts & Boalts. And what do I discover? Armen telling 1Ls they're all a bunch of whiners. It was a great moment. I felt alive again. Like a 3L.

But then I read what they're complaining about. Boalt is apparently increasing its professional fees 22% (to $44,220 next year, and $52,000 by 201). Which Armen seems to think is a great idea.

Armen's position appears to be - and I trust he'll correct me if I'm wrong: (1) you 1Ls knew what you were getting into, there have been plenty of fee increases in the last 10 years, (2) this is part and parcel of the "Michigan plan" to bring Boalt to within $5k of the privates (3) we (as in previous alums of recent vintage) had it just as bad, if not worse, with respect to the percentage our professional fees increased while we were at Boalt, and (4) welcome to the new future of public education - our state's incompetent, so expect to pay (more or less) full price for your education.

A sub-point also suggested by Armen seems to be that Edley is doing a pretty good job of doing exactly what he said what he would do.

That's a lot to chew on. But I think it misses, or ignores, a bigger point. Not only is this class paying more than we did (I'm a Boalt alum of relatively recent vintage), they also are going to be earning less (particularly when you calculate for unemployment, deferral years, etc.).

One thing that always made me uneasy about the Edley plan (or Michigan plan) was that it was predicated on there being big firms to effectively foot the bill of increasing tuition.

The notion is, I guess, that when the vast majority of your graduates are getting paid $160,000, paying off $100k in loans is an onerous yet doable task. And that's probably true. Why should the state subsidize your some lucky graduate's BMW or timeshare in Hawaii?

The situation, however, changes when a 1/3 of your graduates are unemployed. These graduates can't get the big law jobs to cover their debt, aren't covered under LRAP and are now staring $150k in the face with no prospect of earning any where near enough money to pay the debt off. Where, Armen, are these graduates (and there are going to be lots of them) going to find the $150k necessary to pay off their loans? Many of them can't, and some of them won't. I think it's pretty reasonable to complain about that, and I hardly think the answer here is caveat emptor. After all, if Edley didn't see the fall of Big Law coming, I don't think it's crazy that they didn't either.

I get that there are no good answers here. And I don't think anyone can dispute that UC is underfunded. While I find the thought of administrators getting pay increases galling, I think it's naive to blame them for the current situation we're in. There's no money out there, and no amount of trimming the fat is going to change that.

But putting it on the backs of law students many of whom may not (indeed, probably won't) be able to secure jobs to pay off these loans seems pretty ill thought-out too. The same factors that make this such tough times for Boalt are those that make it tough times for the students that are graduating (or entering) Boalt; a cratering economy sinks all ships.

And that, I think, falls at Edley's feet. It's his own version of the sub-prime crisis. As long as law firm salaries keep going up (and up), no problem. But the minute the air goes out of the balloon, you're heaping the burden of paying for law school on a population that simply can't afford it.

11/16/2009 3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just pushed the like button for 3:24's comment.

11/16/2009 3:29 PM  
Blogger L'Alex said...

Three final comments from me, then I'll stop beating a dead horse:

1) Armen, I think your last comment gets to the heart of what I've been pointing out - except instead of "naivite" I would perhaps call my opinions the result of a demonstrated "lack of transparency". Don't forget that you've been around alot longer than anyone in the 1L class - and while any responsible incoming law student should do their research, I don't think it's fair to argue we should have seen through all of the euphemisms touted throughout the admissions process to the extent that a 22% increase is just business as usual.

2) To the lovely commentor who suggested I transfer - consider the possibility that those who express critical opinions of our school are not necessarily unhappy with it. In fact, I would argue we love Boalt more than the people who resign themselves to whatever ridiculous policies the CA legislature / UC / Boalt decides are appropriate.

3) Thanks Dan, for pointing out that I am indeed a girl (at least the last time I checked.)

11/16/2009 3:32 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

3:24 makes some good points, as have most of you. This is a complicated issue, and there are many legitimate ways to feel about it. Call it a cop-ou, but I don't even think I can weigh in beyond that.

That said, I think Bekki made a nice point that was weirdly shouted down, which is--big firms or not--loans are not that difficult to pay off if you go Federal and the scheme stays the same.

In that sense, the Edley/Michigan plan does not just rely on Big Firms (which are in a rut, but will probably come back), but also relies on strong LRAP and loan forgiveness legislation. Those two pillars seem safe, for now at least.

11/16/2009 3:33 PM  
Blogger L'Alex said...

3:24, marry me.

11/16/2009 3:34 PM  
Blogger Peter H, Co-Pres said...

All, please see this re town hall

11/16/2009 3:35 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

L'Alex, that's a fair point. But a) the last time the school spoke definitively about fees it lost a class action and b) predicting California's budget even a year out has become an impossible task. That probably explains why DE didn't roll out his powerpoint slides charting a course for the future of Boalt. Clearly you guys were blindsided by this. And waking up to find out you'll be out a few grand is unpleasant, to say the least.

11/16/2009 3:38 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

I should say it's about as unpleasant as an evening outing with 3:24, but I've already said too much.

11/16/2009 3:45 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Armen dated 3:24? Makes sense.

11/16/2009 4:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DE: Woah, tone deafness. To sum it up: suck on THIS. Note that we are being asked to pay for "the construction projects you see and hear around you." I LOVE seeing and hearing construction! I am TOTALLY willing to pay an extra $6K so that I can hear jackhammering. NOT.

If I am going to pay Ivy League tuition, I want some damn ivy: beautiful facilities, small classes, no wait lists, janitors, etc. As it is, we are literally throwing thousands of our dollars into a giant hole.

For those arguing that we should have seen CA bankruptcy coming, and therefore been prepared for a 22% increase, wasn't the Admin in a much BETTER position to see this coming and realize that it might not be the best time to start a massive infrastructure project? We are paying for their bad gamble. (I love 3:24's comparison to the subprime crisis.) Most 2Ls had no inkling when we accepted that our tuition hikes would be so drastic, or that they would go to pay for something that has ZERO benefit for us.

Addendum to 3:24: not only are BigLaw jobs evaporating, but so are public interest jobs. You have to actually be employed to qualify for LRAP, so the increase will not help those who graduate but can't find jobs.

11/16/2009 4:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If I am going to pay Ivy League tuition, I want some damn ivy: beautiful facilities, small classes, no wait lists, janitors, etc."

4:38, what do you think the construction projects are *for*, if not beautiful facilities + smaller classes (more classrooms)?

11/16/2009 4:45 PM  
Blogger Jackie O said...

3:24 - Thank you!

11/16/2009 5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Armen, like some people running the show, is painfully tone-deaf. Yes, Boalt students expected fees to rise. But the whole entitled "get over it, you entitled kids" just isn't respectful of the position that many of our peers find themselves in.

Tuition continues to increase while job security becomes increasingly insecure. For those law students who began before the massive crash last year, the plan to go through with massive fee hikes feels like letting a train speed along even though some unlucky people have fallen onto the track ahead. The notion that "well, all of you can pay for this, since you have your choice of fancy biglaw jobs or LRAP" is outdated and, frankly, insulting after biglaw layoffs, non-profit hiring freezes, and the 2009 OCIP bloodbath. More and more people in our community cannot get the jobs that enable them to dig themselves out from under six figures of debt. And yet, even though the biglaw bubble has burst, tuition and fees continue to rise, as planned.

I respect DE and the administration, and I accept Yudof and others' explanation that the blame lies elsewhere. Maybe these are costs and risks that we--and our families--just have to bear.

But, Armen, have some freaking respect.

11/16/2009 6:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can anyone that support's the student strike explain to me what their solution to the situation is?

What alternative is there to these fee increases?

11/16/2009 6:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

4:45: I would happily pay to receive the benefits of the improved facilities. (Perhaps you are a 1L, and will have the chance to benefit at least for a year.) But you have to admit that the current 2Ls are really getting the shaft: 3 years of construction AND tuition increases so that we can finance your shiny new campus (to the tune of $6K next year). You're welcome.

11/16/2009 6:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

3:24, you've outdone yourself. You are a fatuous blowhard who should never try, even by implication, to associate yourself with current Boalt students, expecially given your stated Federalist preferences.

11/16/2009 6:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

amen to 3:24 and some unofficial (but reliable) stats to chew on: 1) almost 40% of 2010 do not have big law jobs; 2) 50% of 2011 got 0 or 1 callback.

With that said, I think it's really pretty inexcusable to keep raising tuition like it was still the good old days.

speaking of good old days: back when i started in 2007, was being #8, paying $26K/year, and having a courtyard (as opposed to a wretched and loud hole) really that bad?

back to #8!!

11/16/2009 7:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Where did you get your stats. I know of only one person who got only 1 callback this year. That person had something like all Ps.

11/16/2009 7:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually according to the CDO, 33% of 2Ls got 0 or 1 callbacks.

11/16/2009 8:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

but actually, i know loads of people with multiple callbacks who got no offered. I am one of them (4 callbacks, 0 offers.), and i only have one P on my transcipt. I also have good verbal skills, multiple journals... etc. So yes, 2Ls are in a bad position when it comes to jobs.

11/16/2009 9:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

speaking of non-resident tuition... california will lose taxes because no incentive to change residency.

11/16/2009 10:00 PM  
Blogger Camille said...

To Liz (post 2) -- Totally fair, and this lack of information is hugely problematic.

Speaking for myself, and not in my capacity on the BHSA, I just want to be clear: I don't mean to minimize the hikes; I just wanted to be clear that the fee hikes, which are inherently FUCKED UP, are a related but separate consideration from funding LRAP/FinAid.

11/16/2009 10:27 PM  
Anonymous Hersh said...

I for one am disappointed that the ad hominem posts are being deleted. Why does this thread need to be sterilized? I think it would be amusing to read all the rage.

Hey so, was the 22% increase really unexpected? I thought for sure there was going to be some fallout from the fact that our state government is a bunch of idiots that dole out cash they don't have. Isn't that the flip side of being at a government institution? In good times everyone pays for your shit, in bad times you are left holding the bag of shit.

It does suck for us, but take a look outside and you'll see we aren't alone in being saddled with unexpected expenses/hardships.

I think it would be unfair to say Edley purposely bamboozled us, or something along those lines.

Then again, I'm not privy to all the details. But then most of the people here aren't either. There's a townhall next week, isn't there? We'll get more details then. Till then I think it behooves us to be total assholes to each other as much as possible.

Armen, I haven't read this entire thread, but your very first post was already in the tone of, "HAHAHAHA, you are all a bunch of whiny dicks." So I don't see how you feel justified in being admin and deleting other rage-comments.

BTW, if anyone deletes this comment I will enter your dreams tonight and watch you ... silently ... with crazy eyes.

11/16/2009 11:28 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

"Hey so, was the 22% increase really unexpected? I thought for sure there was going to be some fallout from the fact that our state government is a bunch of idiots that dole out cash they don't have."

Actually I think the major problem there is the ballot initiatives that have tied the legislature's hands. Direct democracy is just such a terrible idea.

On a related note, people keep asking me if I support the strike. Do I? I don't know. It seems like a strike against twelve or so things with no concrete goal except to express outrage. I understand the outrage, but I'm not sure what good it can do in this case.

If there is a protest against ballot initiatives, count me in.

11/16/2009 11:55 PM  
Blogger Camille said...

Apologies for the delay; the BHSA briefing and blog post on fees is available here:

The .pdf has a lot of pretty tables and graphs. Please email me (camille[dot]pannu[at]gmail[dot]com) for an e-copy (I couldn't upload the file).

11/17/2009 7:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll ask again:

To those of you that are outraged, what do you suggest as a solution?

I cannot support a strike when there is no solution being offered up.

Don't you think that the fee hikes might be the only possible solution? If they are, then your strike is silly.

11/17/2009 8:43 AM  
Blogger tyler said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11/17/2009 8:54 AM  
Blogger tyler said...

Does anyone have good information, beyond the little fliers they're passing around, about what this strike is about and who is putting it on? I like the idea of unions and making a stand and everything, but I don't want to support something I can't understand.

I mean, at a fundamental level, this whole thing is about who's going to bear the burden of budget cuts, right? Either the students pay more, unionized employees earn less, or professors earn less. The way I see it, that means there's three possibilities for what the strike is about:

(1) The strike is put on by students protesting the fee increase. In that case, I don't want to support it, because I know I could be digging ditches somewhere, and that from a worldwide perspective this school is giving me an amazing opportunity to live the good life at a bargain price.

 Also, even if I did want to protest fee increases, wouldn't showing up for class without paying make more sense than paying without showing up for class?

(2) The strike could be put on by the unions. If so, I'm not sure I want to support that either, because the unions are striking *us.* After all, we're not working at this school, we're paying for it, and it's not "crossing the picket line" when you're the owner of the company. I hate to rain on the solidarity parade, but our interests in this budget crisis are adverse to each other--if we really wanted to support the unions, we would chip in for a bigger fee increase, not strike ourselves.

(3) The strike is an alliance between unions and students to shake down the professors. That at least makes logical sense. But if thats what it is, why aren't the organizers calling it like it is? All I see are flyers questioning, without evidence, whether a budget crisis exists at all and non-germane op-eds talking about "an iron fist enacting a calculated plan to privatize the university."

I don't get it.

11/17/2009 9:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In addition to student and faculty groups striking in response to budget cuts and fee increases, UPTE, a union representing professional and technical workers at the UC, is having an unfair labor practices strike. Read more here:

These things aren't complicated.

11/17/2009 9:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How does a walk-out effectively protest fee hikes and budget cuts? I mean, the idea of a strike - unless I'm missing the point - is to someway inconvenience someone with power to improve your situation. Here, it appears that the people with power are the California voters and/or legislature. Or maybe the regents. How does me not going to class (or my instructor not teaching it) affect any of those parties in any way? Does anyone have a good answer that doesn't involve a vapid phrase like 'symbolism' or 'solidarity' or another empty s-word?

11/17/2009 9:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I followed 9:44's link, and all I read was a bunch of whining. I can't actually figure out what the union is mad about. Is it that the University is not bargaining in "good faith?"

If so, I don't think their allegations are particularly strong. For example, I am hardly concerned that the University raised parking rates without bargaining with the union.

Most pathetic is the allegation that Yudof attempted to get his message directly to workers, bypassing the union. I simply don't get what is wrong with that. Does the union want a monopoly on information?

And finally, if it forestalls even higher fee increases, it seems like it would be in my benefit to support the University on this one.

11/17/2009 9:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Unfortunately, the answer is a phrase of other s-words: sheer stupidity.

11/17/2009 9:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reminds me of Armen:

11/17/2009 1:31 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

Well played.

11/17/2009 1:33 PM  
Anonymous Hersh said...

Tyler makes a great point.

People were complaining that Edley was hiding the ball when it comes to fee increases. But, Tyler is totally right. The protestors are hiding the ball even more.

I have no idea what their agenda is. Do they want to raise fees, or raise worker wages? Or do they have some super smart plan to get everyone what they want, without solving the mess in Sacramento.

When I think about the student response to the CA budget crisis, the word that comes to mind the most is "hysterical".

There is a lot of lamentation and beating of chests but no effort made to rationally allocate the scarce resources we have. All everyone knows is that they want things to be the same (or better), but there is no comprehension that the resources are not there to fulfill every request.

11/17/2009 2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know if anyone mentioned this yet or not - mostly because I am not going to read 100 comments.

But for those of you who are curious, I believe that in-state tuition in 2007/2008 was about $26k. Tuition increases would then amount to 65% in four years and 93% in six. Do with that fact what you would like.

11/17/2009 2:59 PM  

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