With law students in such high demand, it’s a better time than ever to be thinking about scholarships. Everyone knows that law school is expensive, so I’ll go out on a limb and guess that aspiring students would like to spend less on their legal education. But how does one obtain mythical scholarship dollars?
There are two rather obvious options: obtaining financial aid directly from your school, and obtaining it through outside organizations.
1. Scholarships From Your School
You’re probably already aware that schools might offer you financial aid when they accept you. However, many prospective law students don’t know that you can attempt to negotiate additional financial aid, or even ask for aid in circumstances where you weren’t offered any.
Prelaw Guru has a great blog post outlining some strategies for negotiating better law school scholarships. Essentially, the process of negotiating for additional financial aid works best if you can point to the amount of aid given to you by a comparable law school. If you’re trying to get financial aid from Georgetown by saying, “But Southwestern Guam Technical College gave me a full scholarship!” you’re not likely to have much luck.
Even if you can’t negotiate using financial aid offers from other law schools, it doesn’t hurt to ask (as long as you ask nicely!). Explain that you’d really like to go to Top Choice Law, but you’re worried that the cost might be prohibitive, and ask if there’s anything they can do for you. The worst they can do is say no – they’re certainly not going to rescind your acceptance, as long as you ask in a reasonable manner.
You should definitely try your luck at squeezing a higher scholarship offer out of your top-choice school. Keep in mind that the school really wants you to attend, especially in light of dwindling 1L classes. That said, as in most cases, the financial aid officer(s) you’re talking to will be most likely to help if they don’t dislike you. Don’t be afraid to be persistent, but make sure you’re doing so politely.
One final note on scholarships from law schools – the best and most desirable scholarships are the ones that aren’t contingent on maintaining a certain GPA or class rank in law school. Grades in law school are a whole different animal, so don’t count on being able to maintain a certain GPA – even if you’re really smart, even if you’re going to work super hard, even if your LSAT score is higher than most other peoples’ at the school. Just don’t make that gamble unless you’re fully prepared for all potential outcomes.
2. Scholarship Organizations
Just as when you applied to undergrad, you can also find law school scholarships through outside sources. These scholarships are usually smaller, but they can certainly add up.
Google is your best friend for finding these opportunities – search for “law school scholarships,” “[state] law school scholarships,” “law school scholarships for [quality you have],” and whatever else you can think of. To get you started, here’s a sampling of scholarships via Yale Law and here are some more options via U.S. News & World Report. Finding these scholarships takes a little more work, but think of the thousands of dollars you could save – suddenly, that work seems more worthwhile.
Many students make the mistake of not trying to negotiate more financial aid or find additional help, sometimes because they don’t even know it’s an option. Or they’re lazy. Or they think it won’t matter once they get that sweet, sweet biglaw moolah. DON’T BE ONE OF THOSE STUDENTS! You’ll have enough stress in law school without worrying about how many days per week you can afford a sandwich. To loosely paraphrase Geico, 15 minutes could save you thousands of dollars on law school, so it’s almost always worth a shot.