The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) offers an excellent website on financing law school, including a video tutorial, determining eligibility, financial aid options, and items to consider as you apply.
Scholarships and Grants
- A scholarship or grant is an award that does not have to be repaid. It may be given on the basis of need, or merit, or both. Most scholarships are conferred by individual law schools.
- Some organizations may also have scholarships to offer. Among them are local bar associations; fraternities, sororities, and other social clubs; religious or business organizations; and the US Department of Veterans Affairs. The availability of scholarships and grants is limited, but worth researching. Law school admission and financial aid offices can provide information about the resources available.
- Be aware that many scholarships and grants are merit-based and may require recipients to maintain a certain level of academic performance. A number of companies offer tuition reimbursement benefits to their employees and to their employees’ dependents as well.
Federal Direct Loan Program
- (Subsidized) William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan. Up to $8,500 a year is available to students who meet the need criteria. Interest is paid by the federal government while you are enrolled in school at least half time. You must begin repaying the loan six months after you graduate, withdraw, or drop below half time. The interest rate for the subsidized William D. Ford Federal Direct loan is 6.8 percent. You can obtain an application from any lender that participates in the federal loan program, or from any law school.
- (Unsubsidized) William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan. In combination with the subsidized loan, a student may borrow up to a combined total of $20,500 in subsidized and unsubsidized loans. The amount the student receives in the subsidized loan is deducted from the $20,500 in order to determine eligibility for the unsubsidized loan, (for example, if the student is only eligible for $3,000 in subsidized loans, he or she could receive $17,500 in unsubsidized loans). The interest rate for the unsubsidized William D. Ford Federal Direct loan is 6.8 percent. Interest starts accruing as soon as you receive the funds.
- Graduate PLUS Loans for Law Students. Students with an absence of bad credit may be eligible to secure a Graduate PLUS loan. The Graduate PLUS is federally guaranteed and the interest rate is subsidized. Interest accrues while the student is in school, and repayment begins immediately. The interest rate is 7.9 percent. The interest rate is fixed for the life of the loan. Forbearance is available while the student is in school. Many students who have good credit are choosing Graduate PLUS instead of private loans.
- Federal Perkins Loan. This loan is available to students at some schools. Each student’s award is determined by the school based on information obtained from the FAFSA. The maximum annual loan is $8,000.
- Private Loans. There are a number of private loan programs available to creditworthy borrowers. Some lenders make available postgraduate loans for bar-review study. Eligibility for these bar loans is based on the borrower’s credit history and the lending institution’s willingness to lend. The terms and conditions of these programs vary greatly. Pay careful attention to the explanations found in loan application brochures and consumer information. You can also contact the individual programs or visit their websites for further details.
Winning Law School Scholarships
LSAT, GPA, a persuasive Personal Statement which shows personal accomplishments, and diversity factors are the focus of admissions committees in making scholarship decisions.
LSAT / GPA
Law schools get excited by an applicant with an LSAT score above the 75th percentile of its currently enrolled students. Achieving excellence on the LSAT is enormously important to earning an admission offer with a proposed tuition discount (a scholarship or grant). If you can combine a 75th percentile LSAT with an undergraduate GPA above the 75th percentile of their currently enrolled students, then your target law schools will become extremely interested.
The Subjective Application Components:
- A compelling story in your personal statement
- Well structured, complete, interesting resume
- Recommendations from individuals who will be respected by law school admissions officials, who know you well, and whose letter do not sound like all the others
- Early submission in the application cycle
Diversity factors such as race, first-generation college graduate status, immigrant status, military service, a background of heroically overcoming challenges, or conquering of a challenge related to a disability play a role in making scholarship decisions. Law schools do genuinely want to provide opportunities to a wide group of applicants. Show them that you can add something exceptional to the mix of students they are seeking. Position yourself so that they think they can win you away from a higher-ranked competitor if their financial offer is attractive enough. Law school admission officials love to beat their competition.
Who wins top law school scholarship offers?
- An applicant with 3.8 GPA from a respected public university - known to have low grade inflation - and a 168 LSAT earned a $90,000 scholarship offer (a $30,000 tuition reduction each year for three years) from a Top-15 private law school.
- An applicant with a 3.8 GPA from a respected New England private college and a 162 LSAT earned a full-scholarship offer, plus a monthly stipend, free housing, and a tuition-free LL.M (a post-JD graduate law degree) from a private southern law school ranked in the 80s by US News & World Report.
- A minority applicant with a 3.6 GPA from a respected New York City-area university and a 167 LSAT earned a full-scholarship offer from a private New York City law school ranked in the 50s by US News & World Report.
- A minority applicant with a 16, an undergraduate degree from a Top-25 private university, and a 3.5 GPA, received offers and generous financial aid from two Top-5 law schools.