Two Indiana law schools slip, one climbs in latest U.S. News rankings

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The U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 list of the best law schools brought mixed results for Indiana, with two institutions slipping in the rankings and all three having well over 60 percent of students graduate with average debt of more than $90,000.

Notre Dame Law School climbed to the 21st slot, up from its 2019 ranking of 24th. Both Indiana University Maurer School of Law and Indiana University Robert H. McKinney fell from last year’s ranking as the Bloomington school sunk two places to the 34th position while the Indianapolis school stumbled 10 slots to 108th place.

However, IU McKinney’s health care law program was ranked the 11th best in the country, and its part-time law program was listed 30th best. Also the school’s legal writing program was ranked 20th best program in the nation.

The latest rankings were released by the magazine Tuesday. Yale, Stanford and Harvard law schools filled the top three spots respectively.

Missing from this year’s list was Valparaiso Law School. Traditionally, the northwest Indiana institution has been included in the rank-not-published category, but the school is no longer accepting students and has announced its intention to cease operations in 2020.

The 2020 rankings also included financial information on the cost of attending law schools and on the debt graduates are incurring. The ranking was divided into public and private law schools.

IU McKinney awarded a median grant of $11,274 while 60.5 percent its full-time students received grants. Eight percent got a grant that covered full tuition, and 4.3 percent were awarded a grant that paid for more than full tuition.

Comparatively, IU Maurer gave a median grant of $27,000, with 98 percent of full-time students receiving grants. Financial awards covering full tuition were given to 8.1 percent of the students, while grants for more than full tuition were awarded to 14.5 percent of the full-time enrollees.

At Notre Dame, the median grant amount awarded to full-time students was $25,000 with 88.2 percent receiving some kind of grant. But less than 1 percent of students received grants of full tuition or grants of more than full tuition.

Despite the financial awards, students at Indiana’s law schools are completing their studies still owing a significant amount of money. The magazine examined the class of 2016 to determine how many graduated with debt and what the average amount was.

IU McKinney had 83 percent of its 2016 graduates leaving with debt, and the average debt among those grads was $97,062. At Notre Dame, the average debt was $122,814 for the 76 percent of graduates who had debt. IU Maurer had 65 percent of its 2016 graduates in debt, with the average amount owed $92,800.  

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