It is no secret that law school is a costly endeavor. In addition to the cost of tuition, attending law school means paying for the cost of the LSAT, potentially LSAT prep, room and board if attending school away from home, books, and a plethora of miscellaneous costs. While law school students can save money by attending a public law school, it still bears a heavy financial burden. One of the ways students can reduce the financial burden of law school is by applying to scholarships.
There are such a wide range of law school scholarships. Scholarships can mean anything from money awarded directly from the school, to public sector scholarships, to private sector scholarships. Scholarships can be awarded for everything from financial need based, to diversity, to academic performance. The more scholarships a student applies to, the more likely chance that student has of receiving money. However, between studying for the LSAT, studying for law school, and attending classes, most students will not have unlimited time to apply to every scholarship they can find. It is important for students to identify the various types of law school scholarships, see for which scholarships they are the closest match, and apply to those scholarships. While big, flashy scholarships are often the ones that draw the most attention, smaller $500 and $1,000 scholarships should not be ignored. Oftentimes these scholarships are less time intensive and have a smaller applicant pool, which gives students a higher chance of winning the scholarship. Small scholarships can accumulate and add up to larger sums.
School Specific Merit Based Scholarship
The most obvious type of scholarship is a merit based scholarship awarded directly from the school a student is attending. These scholarships can range anywhere from partial tuition to full tuition. Oftentimes, these merit based scholarships are awarded to students with impeccably high undergraduate GPAs and LSAT scores. These scholarships are solely based on academic performance and do not take financial need into account. Many merit based scholarships do not require an additional application to the school. They typically require the applicant apply by an earlier deadline, and can sometimes call for an additional interview. All schools have a different policy for their merit based scholarships. Therefore, students should be sure to review these policies prior to applying.
School specific merit based scholarships are best for students who have a strong academic background, although all students should apply. There is typically no additional cost to applying for these scholarships, they are normally scholarships of larger amounts, and they are often renewable year after year as long as certain academic standards are met.
University scholarships are similar to merit based scholarships in the sense they both come from the school the student is attending. However, university scholarships typically require an additional application, come in smaller amounts, and are offered in a more limited number than merit based scholarships. These scholarships are typically endowed by a certain donor and are awarded based off certain criteria (ie year, legal field, GPA, ethnicity, etc). Many of these scholarships require a separate application, transcripts, and a personal statement.
Private/Public Organization Scholarships
Scholarships do not always have to come directly from the school a student is attending. Many public and private organizations offer scholarships to law students as well. These scholarships vary widely in the amount awarded, and the qualifications to earn the scholarships. Students can apply to as many private and public organization scholarships as they have time for. These scholarships are typically sponsored by a large company or non-profit organization. These scholarships will all have different application deadlines and will all require an additional application. While students should apply to as many of these scholarships as possible, they should first be sure they meet the minimum qualifications of each scholarship. Applying to these scholarships without ensuring all qualifications are met could potentially result in a lot of wasted time for the student. Easy law school scholarships are available, like the one we offer. You can enter just by reviewing the LSAT test prep company you used.
Federal Grants and Loans
Federal grants and loans are another form of financial aid available to help students pay for law school. Federal grants and loans both come from the government. However, they do differ in various ways. Federal aid requires students to apply for FAFSA prior to receiving any aid. Students should start this process as early as possible to allow ample time for aid to be awarded. The FAFSA can be a confusing application to fill out, so there are many online guides to help students file appropriately.
Federal grants are “gifts” from the government that do not need to be repaid as long as all requirements are fulfilled. Students who receive grants are those who the government deems unable to cover the cost of their education with their current income. Grant amount is typically awarded based on the amount of money a student makes. Oftentimes, grant money alone is not enough to cover full tuition for the entirety of law school or even a full year of tuition. However, grants are great for students who see law school as a heavy financial burden, because they are typically not responsible for paying back the grant amount. There are varying types of federal grants and students should be sure to fully understand the terms of the grant is they are awarded one.
Federal loans are different from grants in that they are aid money that will eventually need to be paid back, and typically with interest. Federal loans are awarded based on financial need, which is determined from the FAFSA. Some of these loans include the ability to defer payment until after graduation, which is an advantage over a normal loan. Some federal loans also offer lower interest rates than normal loans along with income-based repayment schedules.
While there typically tends to be less scholarship and aid opportunity for graduate school than undergraduate school, there is still ample aid available. The easiest way for students to receive aid is by having strong academics, such as a high GPA and high LSAT scores, having ample amounts of community service and internships, and being an overall strong candidate. These attributes will make a student eligible for the largest amount of scholarships. The most time efficient way for students to apply for aid is through merit based scholarships. Students should always plan on applying to law school as early as possible and ensure they meet merit scholarship deadlines. Many law schools operate on a rolling admission basis. Therefore, to ensure scholarship offers are still available, it is best for students to apply as early as possible.
Unfortunately, not all students will be recipients of merit based scholarships as they are typically reserved for the strongest academic students. Students who have decent academic records will often still be eligible for a wide variety of university and private/public organization scholarships. These scholarships are oftentimes looking for a more specific type of student as opposed to strictly a good student. Students who are pursuing a certain type of law should look for scholarships tailored to their specialty or even tailored to their year in school. Oftentimes, these scholarships will have a smaller applicant pool, giving students a better chance of earning the scholarship. Students who are not considered need based students must rely solely on university specific, school merit based, or private/public sector scholarships to support their tuition needs. However, it is important to remember that law school students are considered “independent” from their parents and thus, may be eligible for financial aid, even if they were not eligible during their undergraduate career. For this reason, it is important for all law school students to fill out the FAFSA, even if they do not think they are a candidate for financial aid.
Those students who are candidates for financial aid will have access to the above scholarships in addition to federal grants and loans. For students planning on applying for federal aid, it is important that they complete their FAFSA as early as possible, and at least, by the noted FAFSA deadline. Federal grants and aids are excellent supplements to other scholarships but should not be relied on to completely cover the cost of attending law school. For one, federal aid is awarded based on a student’s ability to pay. This means it will likely not be as large a chunk of money as a scholarship. In addition, while grants are “gifts” or “free money” loans are not. Federal loans do offer favorable rates and terms to students compared with normal loans. However, it is still money that must be repaid to the government at some point.
Law school is a very heavy financial burden for most students to bear. Fortunately, there are ways to lessen the burden. Students should apply to as many forms of financial aid and scholarships as possible to help lessen the financial burden. Even if students feel they may not qualify for a scholarship or certain forms of aid, it may be worth applying. Law school students should make a list of scholarship and aid opportunities and determine which they have the best chance of obtaining. Applying and receiving scholarships is in part a numbers game, but also requires a level of strategic thinking as well.