How to Go to Law School for FREE
Law school is expensive. Just look at 2016 graduates, who have incurred an average debt of $112,776, according to recently published data by U.S. News & World Report.
A recent article by U.S. News reporter Ilana Kowarski offers five tips law students should keep in mind to lower their costs.
1.) Don’t skimp on test prep
Experts tell U.S. News that scholarship money is usually rewarded to students with high LSAT scores.
“I always recommend that students treat LSAT prep as a part-time job, because the payoff from it can literally mean hundreds of dollars for every hour that they spent preparing,” says Aaron N. Taylor, executive director of the nonprofit AccessLex Center for Legal Education Excellence.
2.) Polish your application materials
On top of high LSAT scores, applicants looking to gain scholarships should ensure their application to law school is strong. Taylor tells U.S. News that the key to winning full scholarships is submitting an outstanding application. Few outside scholarships cover the full cost of tuition, so applicants must be able to prove to admission officers that they are worthy of a full ride. According to Taylor, an estimated “95% of the scholarship and grant funding that law students receive is from law schools themselves.”
3.) Research the conditions of full scholarships
Often times, scholarships come with strings attached. For instance, some scholarships require students to study a specific field of law. The Toll Public Interest Scholars Program, offered by the University of Pennsylvania Law School, awards full-tuition scholarships to students committed to pursuing a public-sector law career.
“For the student who applies for it, they should be aware of the service requirement after graduation and really do a values check and say, ‘If I get the scholarship, this is what I want to do, and this is the commitment I’m willing to fulfill,'” says Renee Post, associate dean for admissions and financial aid at Penn Law School.
4.) Consider early decision scholarship programs
Some law schools such as Boston University and Washington University in St. Louis offer early-decision full-scholarship programs. Applicants who sign early-decision pledges to these schools can often win full rides to law school.
“It’s not a program for everybody, because students often want to look at a variety of options, and this program precludes them from doing that,” says Alissa Leonard, assistant dean for admissions and financial aid with Boston University.
Regardless of whether you are applying for an early or later decision, experts say applying to law school as early as possible is a smart decision since many scholarship decisions are made on a rolling basis.
5.) Don’t Rule Yourself Out
Winning a full ride to law school is difficult, and only a certain number of applicants will get that full scholarship. Yet, experts say, applying won’t hurt.
“We like for students to be ambitious, so there is no downside to applying,” says Kati Scannell, associate dean for admissions and placement with the law school at Washington University in St. Louis. “There’s only a downside to not applying.”
Sources: U.S. News, U.S. News
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