Law School Costs
Nowadays, many law students in Canada are complaining about soaring tuition fees. This raises concerns that only rich people will be able to practice law in the future. For example, law students who work for low-income clients and like their job cannot afford to do it indefinitely because they graduate with a lot of debt, which leaves a shortage of qualified lawyers to assist clients of more humble means. This is a Catch 22 if ever we saw one.
In the past, law was the domain of rich men, to whom tuition was just an investment in a bright future. The situation is different now, and the practice is open to formerly disenfranchised groups. These include women, older students, minorities, and low-income students – women form the majority of law students in Canada. However, like they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Official statistics show that undergraduate tuition fees have increased by 126.2 percent in the past decade in Canada. Law is the most expensive program along with medicine and dentistry. The costs of law education have risen fourfold in some provinces in the last few years alone. This tendency is far from over. The official tuition costs do not include books, additional fees, food, housing, and personal expenses, among others. Fees depend on a variety of factors, including the particular program of study, the province, the institution involved, and where the student is from. Thus the actual cost ranges from $10,000 to over $25,000 a year. Foreign students pay considerably more than domestic students. Unfortunately, some law students graduate with debt approaching $100,000, and the situation looks similar to the level of indebtedness American law students are faced with.
It is most expensive to study law in Nova Scotia, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. In other provinces, such as British Columbia, tuition fees have increased by less than 30 percent in recent years. In fact, they dropped by around 7 percent in the past five years. There has been a freeze on tuition in Manitoba and Quebec.
Why these dramatic increases? They are largely due to major cuts in federal funding for education. Universities have to make do with creative fund-raising initiatives as to compensate for this. Those lacking in creativity simply hike tuition up. As a result, young lawyers are unable to choose where to work because of their debt loads. Obviously, it is the Canadian public that will suffer as a result of this. Higher fees are keeping people from considering law as a viable career possibility. Students from abroad, from rural areas, and people without savings cannot afford to study law.
Students who do not have the ability to get loans due to lack of a credit history and students with children are hit the hardest by soaring costs. Many people decide not to study law. Few people love the idea of studying law so much as to accept being in debt to make their dream come true. On the bright side, according to the Association of Colleges and Universities of Canada, graduate students earn about $1 million more over their lifetime compared to persons with no post-secondary education.
How much does law school cost exactly? Of common law schools, tuition is lowest at McGill University. It is $2,068 for Canadians from the province, $5,668 for Canadians outside the province, and $21,600 for foreigners. In Manitoba, it is $8,619 for Canadians and $19,667 for foreigners. The most expensive universities are Queen’s, Ottawa, Western, Osgoode, and Toronto. The cost is $23,508 at Toronto University for Canadians, and it is $32,635 for international students.