Negotiating scholarships can be quite an intimidating process. I had no idea that this was even an option until well into my application cycle. Not only is it possible, but it’s actually pretty common! As we all know law school is insanely expensive, and I don’t know about most of you, but my parents do not have $100,000 to shell out on my tuition.
So far I have been accepted into 9 law schools (I went a little crazy applying to basically everywhere) and of the 9 schools, 8 of them have offered me a scholarship. Some more than others, but that is normal. Although ranking & employment numbers are important, cost is just as important to me. I am very happy and blessed to have been accepted to so many law schools, but I do have to make the best decision for my future. So here are some basic steps to negotiating scholarships:
Step 1: Humble yourself
Don’t forget that you should be thankful that these schools even accepted you to begin with. Remember that your application was one of thousands & they chose to pick you!
Step 2: Conduct Research
Find out what the schools’ tuition cost is, how many scholarships they give out per year, and the typical amount of debt a student has when they graduate from the school. This information can be found on every ABA accredited law schools’ website on their “Standard ABA 509” report.
Step 3: Evaluate Acceptances & Offered Scholarships
Make a list of every school in order by ranking with the amount of money you have been offered. This will help determine “peer schools,” or schools that are comparable to each other and therefore will have a likelihood of being negotiated. For example, Ohio State & Fordham, both are ranked mid-thirties and have comparable job prospects.
Step 4: Contact Schools From The Bottom-Up
If a higher ranked school offers you more money than a lower ranked school that you really want to attend, contact the lower ranked school first. Let them know that you are thrilled to have been accepted but have received other appealing offers. Law schools understand that this generation of applicants are more fiscally responsible and make decisions that are heavily influenced by money. Try to write your email in a “I really want to attend your school, but…” format. This shows the schools that you are interested in attending but would be swayed by more money.
Step 5: Evaluate Final offers
Once you have worked your way through your list of schools, make your final decision. Be sure to take into account not only the scholarship, but employment numbers, bar passage rates, clinics and externships, and law school culture.
Negotiating scholarships may sound scary, but if you focus on the goal and do your research you will be fine! Here are some helpful websites I found on negotiating scholarships: