Law School Scholarships, Tuition Waivers, and Grants
Like it or not, the #1 factor in obtaining a
scholarship from a law school is often your LSAT score. Law schools
compete for top candidates, and use free money in the form of
scholarships and tuition waivers to attract them. This approach is
true even of lesser-ranked schools: a school with a median LSAT of
154, for example, might not be able to compete for the very best
students, so it instead offers money to students who will contribute
to raising that median score—meaning that students who score, say, a
156 or 157 may be targeted for scholarship aid.
After the LSAT, scholarships are generally
given on the basis of financial need. There are also targeted
scholarships to help underrepresented groups, children of alumni,
etc. These scholarships are particular to the school and are awarded
by each school’s financial aid office. You may qualify for a
scholarship at one school and be completely shut out at another.
Awarding free money is a very school-specific undertaking, and it is
often impossible to predict what a law school will do for you.
Consequently, your best course of action is to submit your completed
law school and financial aid applications as early as possible.
There’s more money available at the beginning of the admissions
cycle than at the end. It is not unusual for a law school to award
all of its scholarship aid by mid-February; applications that arrive
later are eligible only for the “leftovers.”
There are a number of federal scholarship and
grant programs for needy individuals, plus a number of private
programs. You need to do your homework to see which ones you might
be eligible for. Sometimes these programs can be very
idiosyncratic—“awarded to the children of union laborers,” for
example—so research extensively to see if there are any that match
your background. The Internet is an indispensable tool for searching
for graduate and professional school scholarships—use it, as they
say, early and often.