Law school can be a heavy investment. Just applying to one law school can cost, on average, $400 after testing and application fees.
Michelle Kim Hall, a contributor at U.S. News & World Report and consultant at Stratus Admissions Consulting, recently wrote a piece discussing various fee waivers that applicants can use to cut down on application costs.
The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) established the fee waiver program in 1968 to “assure that no person is denied access to law school because of the absolute inability to pay for the LSAT and other essential applicant services,” according to LSAC.
LSAC lists the following eligibility requirements for its fee waiver program:
- U.S., Canadian, or Australian citizen;
- U.S. national;
- Permanent resident alien of the United States with an Alien Registration Receipt Card (I–151 or I–551);
- Been granteddeferred action under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA); or
- Appliedfor deferred action under DACA.
Kim Hall also outlines three types of ways applicants can take part in the application fee waiver: unsolicited, solicited, and automatic.
The unsolicited fee waiver is an invite-only type of waiver that, according to Kim Hall, is generally given to applicants with competitive test scores or undergraduate GPAs. Essentially, it’s a school-issued fee waiver that allows individual law schools to waive a candidate’s fee. To be eligible, students must submit their information to LSAC’s Candidate Referral Service (CRS) and meet the school’s scholastic merit requirements.
According to Top Law Schools, some law schools also grant a “hidden” fee waiver, where certain schools will grant fee waivers without notifying an applicant.
“Under these circumstances, an applicant will remain oblivious to the fee waiver until the final stage of submission of an electronic application,” Top Law Schools reports. “When it comes time to add an application to the LSAC.org ‘shopping cart,’ a hidden waiver recipient will see that a CRS fee waiver has been issued and that only the $16 report fee must be paid.”
Applicants can also request a fee waiver from a school if they haven’t been invited for an unsolicited fee waiver. The solicited fee waiver isn’t given out by every school, so applicants should exercise caution when reaching out to a school to request one.
“When making a request, be respectful,” Kim Hall writes. “You do not want to hurt your chances of admission by approaching an admissions committee with an entitled attitude. Include your name, relevant test scores and GPAs, and your LSAC account number. It doesn’t hurt to briefly mention why you are excited by that particular school.”
A number of programs also have automatic fee waivers. Generally, applicants will need to apply to a program early or directly rather than through LSAC to qualify for an automatic fee waiver.
At USC’s Gould School of Law, applicants can have their application fee waived if they apply by the February 1st deadline. In addition, Kim Hall reports, applicants who participate in certain organizations, such as the U.S. military, Teach for America, or Peace Corps, may also be eligible for an automatic fee waiver.
Law school is an expensive investment, but with these fee waiver resources, applicants can save on some costs in the long run.