Western Michigan University Cooley Law School has announced plans to cut its tuition by 21% in fall 2020, close its campus in Auburn Hills in December 2020 and “reduce the footprint" of its Lansing campus.
Mlive.com reports that tuition will drop from $1,750 to $1,375 per credit hour. The current tuition equates to $54,250 for full-time students, and the reduction will lower that to about $42,625. Most Cooley students attend part time; their tuition is currently $29,750 a year, which would drop to $23,375.
““We realize that a significant part of providing access to legal education is cost," James McGrath, the law school’s new president, said on its website. "To put it simply, we became too expensive."
The tuition decline also addresses the school’s mission of making law accessible to a diverse range of students. Many Cooley students are pursuing law as a second career, and the school has a “very diverse student body,” McGrath says.
The school says the tuition reduction is possible because of “effective fiscal management and generous donations.”
The board also voted to close the Auburn Hills campus in December 2020, a move that requires approval from the American Bar Association and the Higher Learning Commission.
“Each Auburn Hills student will receive individual advising on a degree-completion plan,” the school says.
As for the Lansing campus, Cooley has four buildings in that location, three of which are in use, McGrath says.
“We’re exploring the idea of putting our library into the main building" as well as either leasing or selling the vacant building, McGrath says.
Cooley has about 1,100 students on five campuses—438 in Tampa, Fla., 365 in Lansing, 231 in Auburn Hills, 123 in Grand Rapids and 26 in Kalamazoo.
At its peak in fall 2010, Cooley had 4,000 students.
“We still have capacity for 4,000” and reducing the building space will save money and will help finance the tuition decrease, McGrath says.
Cooley has affiliated with Western Michigan University since 2014, but operates as an independent institution with its own governance structure.