Law school, on average, can cost more than $130,000 in tuition and fees alone.
One of the ways students pay for that cost is through conditional scholarships, which often require the recipient to maintain a minimum grade point average or class standing. Gabriel Kuris, founder of Top Law Coach and contributor at US News, recently discussed how conditional scholarships work and why students should, at times, approach them with caution.
THE BASICS OF CONDITIONAL SCHOLARSHIPS
The most common requirement of conditional scholarships is that a law student holds a certain GPA in order to maintain financial assistance.
“If you accept a conditional scholarship that requires you to perform in the top half of your class and you fall below that mark, then the school may cut or revoke your scholarship,” Kuris writes. “You won’t be expelled as long as you remain in good academic standing, but you may face a steep jump in tuition.”
In recent years, however, conditional scholarships have become rarer at law schools. There are a few reasons for that.
“First, the ABA forced schools beginning in 2013 to disclose the number of first-year students who received and who lost some or all of the scholarship’s value after the first year,” according to Law School Transparency. “Second, prospective law students were increasingly advised that scholarship stipulations are negotiable. Third, conditional scholarships received negative publicity in the press, at academic conferences, and in legal scholarship.”
HOW TO APPROACH CONDITIONAL SCHOLARSHIPS
If you do happen to receive an offer from a law school with a conditional scholarship, there are a few steps that experts say you should take before accepting that offer.
“First, review a conditional scholarship offer carefully to ensure you understand its terms and the consequences of noncompliance,” Kuris writes. “Don’t be afraid to email follow-up questions or schedule a call with the office of admissions or financial aid to walk through the offer’s implications.”
It’s also important, Kuris says, for applicants to consider the law school that is offering the conditional scholarship.
“Conditional scholarships are most worrisome at unranked or low-ranked law schools with high dropout rates,” Kuris writes. “Some of those law schools may profit from pressuring law students who fail to meet the terms of conditional scholarships to either drop out or take on additional debt.”
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