Beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, Standard 509 Information Reports submitted by law schools will include information about the number of law students who receive student loans. What’s more, the data will be categorized by race, ethnicity and gender.
Let’s take a closer look at what this means for prospective law students.
What are Standard 509 Information Reports?
The American Bar Association (ABA) is the largest voluntary association of lawyers and legal professionals in the world. In 1952, the ABA developed a formal program of law school accreditation. To be accredited by the ABA, a law school must go through a rigorous process that lasts at least three years.
There are currently 199 ABA-accredited law schools in the United States.
Law schools are required to fill out an annual questionnaire in order to maintain accreditation. The completed questionnaire is called a Standard 509 Information Report.
Standard 509 Information Reports must be submitted to the ABA and clearly posted on the law school’s website.
The following data must be included in a Standard 509 Information Report:
- Application deadlines and financial aid deadlines
- Tuition and fees and living expenses
- Conditional scholarships
- Gender, race, ethnicity, and non-resident status of the study body
- GPA and LSAT scores
- Grants and scholarships
- Curriculum details
- Attrition rates
- Transfer statistics
- Faculty and administrator statistics
- Bar passage rates
An example of a complete Standard 509 Report can be found on the Harvard Law School website.
What student loan information will be included in the ABA’s Standard 509 Information Reports?
Starting with the 2023-2024 school year, ABA-accredited law schools will be required to submit student loan data as part of their Standard 509 Information Report, including:
- The number of students who receive student loans;
- The race, ethnicity, and gender breakdown of the students who receive student loans; and
- The race, ethnicity, and gender breakdown of the students who receive scholarships and grants.
The ABA hopes that the information regarding race, ethnicity, and gender specifically will help determine whether a law school is in compliance with ABA Standard 206, which states that law schools should have diverse student bodies, faculty, and staff in order to maintain accreditation.
What does the new student loan disclosure requirement mean for prospective law students?
Prospective law students are increasingly concerned about student loans, and rightfully so. Recent studies have shown that student loan debt has significantly contributed to mental health issues, including prolonged stress, anxiety, and feelings of shame.
The average law school graduate owes $160,000 in student loan debt. What’s more, fewer than 1-in-4 law school graduates say their legal education was worth the financial cost.
Requiring law schools to disclose annual student loan data may help prospective students get a better sense of the actual cost of attending a particular law school, which will help students make more informed decisions about where and whether to attend law school.
Finally, a number of studies have highlighted the enormous racial disparities that exist in student loan borrowing, delinquencies, defaults, and total debt. The ABA prides itself on eliminating bias and enhancing inclusion in the legal profession. Requiring law schools to disclose what genders, races, and ethnicities receive student loans, grants, and scholarships represents a solid first step in understanding and solving the racial disparities that exist.
You can count on Enjuris to break down the student loan data once it’s released. In the meantime, the following articles may prove helpful if you’re thinking about attending law school: