Law Students

How Should You Negotiate a Law School Scholarship?
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Summary:  Many law schools and admitted students engage in scholarship discussions beyond the original award offered.

As many aspiring law students already know, negotiating law school scholarships is a reality of today’s admissions process. Every year more and more admitted students are negotiating the merit-based scholarship package.

According to a New York Times article, “students are increasingly in control as nearly all of the 204 accredited law schools battle for the students with the best academic credentials.’

  
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While some law schools are playing hardball and have a strict ‘no negotiation’ policy, many law schools are willing to engage in scholarship discussions, especially if you have an LSAT above last year’s median. 

Negotiating a law scholarship can indeed be a challenging and awkward process, especially if you are not cut out to negotiate.   

How Should You Negotiate a Law School Scholarship?

Analyze the cost of attending one school versus another

You are not going into this process haggling as if you are buying a used car. You are investing in your future. So, before contacting any law school to negotiate scholarship money, you should first have a full understanding of the costs. Review all of the funding awards received and create a comparison chart including the cost of education as provided by each law school, the overall cost of living and the actual scholarship/grant award.

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Look at the total cost of attendance over three years. Rather than focusing on which school gives the heftiest financial aid, you should subtract the scholarship from the cost of education to have a better understanding of the real costs.

When you consider all of these factors more comprehensively, it isn’t always the law school with the highest award that will be the most affordable.



Be engaged with the school

Scholarship negotiation is mostly about building relationships. So, if your first communication with the law school is to ask for more money, the answer will understandably be negative, since the Dean of Admission will most likely question your genuine interest in attending the school and assume you are looking for a scholarship increase merely for leverage at another law school. 

Be respectful, professional and humble

Whether you are visiting the school in person, or you are talking to the admissions office on the phone or via email correspondence, you need to be polite, undemanding, and professional. Applying to law school is the first step in your legal career, and this advice applies to all types of negotiations.

Regardless of who you are speaking to, whether it’s the dean of the law school, the receptionist of the admission office, or an undergraduate student, everyone is paying attention to how you interact and they will talk to each other. So you want to make sure that you reiterate how much and why you like their law school.

Remember, when you are asking for additional funding, it’s imperative to stay grateful and humble.

Be an effective self-advocate 

Whether you are negotiating in person or in writing, be persuasive, thoughtful, and articulate to the law school why they should invest in you. Rather than just presenting offers from other law schools, you should show them you will add value to their law school and will be a good ambassador as a future alum.

Only engage in negotiations with short-listed law schools 

Before engaging in negotiations, make sure you would realistically attend that given law school. That way, your communication with the law school can be based on a genuine desire to make your scholarship offer better so that you might be able to enroll. 

Consult with a pre-law advisor

For any specific concerns or questions on how to proceed with your scholarship negotiation, you should speak with a pre-law advisor.



 

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