It is common for law students to accrue a six-figure debt load while in law school, yet it is feasible to obtain a J.D. with no out-of-pocket expenses.
That’s what occurs when a full scholarship is awarded.
Michelle Roter, a 2018 J.D. graduate who attended Hofstra University’s Maurice Deane School of Law on a full scholarship, says she only applied to law schools where her GPA and LSAT score were on par with or higher than the average for admitted students.
She claims that her hope was that colleges would try to entice her by offering scholarship money if she applied to institutions where her qualifications were better than average.
According to Roter, she “lucked out” by receiving a full scholarship. “It’s been great not having to worry about loans,” she remarks.
In light of the current economic turmoil, prospective lawyers would be particularly keen to attend law school for free in order to save money. Here are six recommendations from experts that prospective law students should bear in mind if they want to use scholarship funds to cover the whole cost of their legal study.
Don’t Cut Corners on Test Preparation:
According to experts, students who score highly on the LSAT are usually considered for full-tuition law school scholarships.
“My advice is that students approach LSAT preparation as a side gig, as the potential earnings can be as high as hundreds of dollars per hour,” states Aaron N. Taylor, executive director of AccessLex Center for Legal Education Excellence, a nonprofit organization.
Polish Application Resources
According to Taylor, the secret to obtaining a full scholarship for law school is to wow admissions officers with your application. This is because very few outside scholarships pay for tuition in full.
Taylor, a former law school admissions officer, continues, “I would estimate that maybe 95% of the scholarship and grant funding that law students receive is from law schools themselves.” He claims that in order to decide which students most merit scholarships, law schools frequently examine the personal statements of applicants with comparable academic backgrounds.
Examine the requirements for full scholarships.
Certain scholarships include requirements, including adhering to a particular legal professional path. According to experts, numerous law schools offer full-tuition scholarships to students who pledge to serve in government. One such program is the Toll Public Interest Scholars Program, offered by the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School.
Experts state that certain law school scholarships include a GPA requirement, so applicants should determine whether the minimal GPA required to be eligible for these scholarships is acceptable.
Examine programs for early decision scholarships.
A select number of substantial scholarships are awarded only to early decision students who promise, in the event of acceptance, to attend a specific law school.
For instance, Boston University School of Law offers a three-year, full-tuition scholarship program for early decisions.
According to Alissa Leonard, the assistant dean of admissions and financial aid at the institution, “it’s not a program for everybody because students often want to look at a variety of options, and this program precludes them from doing that.”
Experts advise prospective scholarship recipients to apply to law schools as early as possible in the admissions cycle, as scholarship selections are usually made on a rolling basis.
Never Rule Yourself Apart
Experts advise applying even if you don’t think you have a chance of winning a full scholarship since you might be pleasantly surprised.
Katherine Scannell, vice dean for institutional success at Washington University in St. Louis School of Law, where she controls admissions in addition to other job duties, says, “There is no downside to applying. We like for students to be ambitious.” “There’s only a downside to not applying.”
If you are qualified, ask for fee waivers.
Paying the application fees for several law schools can be expensive for some prospective J.D. candidates, particularly in light of the extra costs associated with tests and transcripts. According to Scannell, most law schools levy application fees for J.D.s, even though Washington University St. Louis did away with them a few years ago.
“Application fees can add up, so be sure to ask for fee waivers if application fees are an obstacle to applying to schools,” she advises.