College of Law receives B+ as a best value school

Camila Fernandez/Staff Writer

Tuition, the cost of living, Bar-Test passing rates, debt accumulation and employment success are all factors students consider when applying for law school.

While a six-figure debt looms over the nation’s law students, FIU’s College of Law was recently graded a B+ as a best value law school by The National Jurist.

The school’s average debt of its grads in 2012 was $94,937 and the employment rate was 78 percent.

Despite the hefty $20,000+ annual tuition rate, law student Allan Zullinger looks beyond the debt and says law school is an investment.

“It’s three more years of school and it’s a higher degree so it’s going to cost more money, you’re going to have to take out loans and you’re going to have to work hard,” Zullinger said.   “But we’re all here because something drew us here. Now we love it and we can’t wait to take it to the next step.”

University of Alabama led the rankings with an average debt of $67,611 and 89.3 percent employment rate. University of South Dakota ranked fifth with the lowest average debt in the nation – $54,352.

Other Florida universities that made the list: Florida State University — 9 out of the 20 best valued law schools — and the University of Florida, which was given an A minus despite missing the top 20 list.

Being that FIU’s College of Law is a public law school — the only one in South Florida — its low-cost tuition rate was Zullinger’s main reason for choosing the school.

According to College of Law Dean Acosta, a significant reason why it is difficult to reduce the cost of the University’s law school is simply the high cost of Miami living.

By working full-time and taking advantage scholarships, Zullinger is savvy with managing his costs.

Besides the low-tuition rate, the school’s student-to-faculty ratio of 12.8 to 1 is another valued factor, according to Acosta.

Acosta said at the school, professors try to get to know each student individually to match their individual interests.

The school was also recognized for its diversity.

According to the National Jurist, law schools have difficulty diversifying their student body, threatening their academic rankings.

The University’s College of Law is ranked as the third most diverse law school nationally, however.

“I’m not aware of any school that has gone faster in the rankings as we have,” said Acosta.

The school also ranked first in Bar-passing rates in 2005, 2007 and 2009. In 2012, the school has an 85.2 percent passing rate, above the 78.9 percent state average.

“The students and faculty really make the school what it is. It’s more than a ranking, cost of tuition, or test scores,” Zullinger said. “Everyone is out to help each other and everyone wants to put FIU on the map.”


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