Top 3 Tips for Negotiating a Law School Scholarship

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When I was a Director of Admissions at a law school in California twelve years ago, one of my peers from another school told me he hated when students tried to negotiate scholarships. Let me tell you, times have changed.

Negotiating Scholarships is No Longer Taboo

In the last few years, I’ve seen a change – applicants are asking and law schools are responding, some even with official policies that let you send them a copy of one scholarship offer from a competing school for their review. And now, the Wall Street Journal (notoriously anti-law school and anti-lawyers, but at least they make sure people are seriously considering their decision to attend law school) has published an article all about how law schools are negotiating with admitted students.

The University of Illinois offered EVERY member of their entering class a scholarship (that’s certainly a smart way to make sure they get good people after the bad press their admission office has been getting in the last year or two).

You Should Negotiate

For those of you starting law school this fall, you can expect that every one of your peers is calling the school they hope to attend and asking for more $$$$. Phones at admission offices are going to be ringing off the hook today. Those poor, poor unsuspecting souls. Especially since they like to pretend so much of the admission process is a secret. There will be some Advil popping today.

How To Ask For More Scholarship Money

To effectively negotiate a scholarship with a law school:

  1. Show them an offer from another comparable law school that exceeds your current offer.
  2. Explain why an increased scholarship offer would make all the difference.
  3. Be sure to understand the terms of renewing your scholarship and keep this in mind when determining a scholarship’s value.

If you want to share your story of how you negotiated a scholarship (and I know my clients have been very successful at this in the last couple of months) I’m sure my readers would be very interested!

For more about the nitty-gritty details of why law schools award scholarships and the methods behind these decisions, read this article by Jim Chen.

20 thoughts on “Top 3 Tips for Negotiating a Law School Scholarship

  1. Hey Ann,

    This is really helpful–thank you so much!

    I have a question: so I had University of Arizona (42nd) offer me a full-tuition scholarship, and I think there are a couple of better-ranked schools (Iowa & Indiana) who will offer me a full ride as well. However, I would rather live long-term in Tucson than in Indiana or Iowa. Should I try to negotiate for more than the full scholarship from Arizona? If so, what could I ask for? And what would be the best way to go about it?

    Thank you!

  2. Hi Ann,

    I got accepted at UIUC but would like to negotiate the scholarship. Would you recommend sending a negotiation email soon or wait a bit more?

    Thanks

  3. I got offered 32,000 dollars from Loyola Law (ranked 135). And 10,000 from Ole Miss (ranked 94). Ole Miss’s tuition for 2016-2017 is estimated at 15,336. Loyola’s tuition is 36,938. How should I go about trying to get Ole Miss to increase there scholarship offer?

  4. Anonymous on said:

    Hi Ann, I have been admitted to UCLA (ranked #16) but no scholarship offer yet. However, I have been offered a full ride at Northeastern (#87) and $117,000 at Emory (#19). How can I best leverage those offers for a merit-based scholarship at UCLA (even though they are not geographical peers)? Should I wait until UCLA offers me something first? Thank you!

  5. Hopefull on said:

    Hi Ann,

    First I would like to thank you for taking your time to address our questions. I have been accepted into Geroge Washington law with $75,000 merit scholarship. Given that I sent my application to GW bery recently and that it is still very early in the application process, is it possible to leverage my 100% dedication to attend GW as a method of attaining a full scholarship? Inform GW that I am willing to commit fully to attending GW and that I am willing withdraw all other lawschool application for a full tuition scholarship?

    Thank you

  6. Maxwell Ginsberg on said:

    Hi Ann,

    I was accepted into GW law School with a $90,000 merit scholarship. GW is my first choice, but I was hoping to get more money even potentially a full scholarship. I have a multiple full scholarships from lesser ranked schools and an equally sized scholarship from Fordham law. I am still waiting to hear back from multiple schools, most of which are ranked higher then GW. Do you think its best to wait on negotiating until I’ve heard back to potentially use those offers as leverage? On the other hand, would it be better to contact them sooner using the offers I already have? I appreciate any help you could potentially provide here.

    • I would wait until you have all of the information available to you and then tell GW that if they give you a certain amount, you’ll send a deposit and withdraw all other applications – but you have to mean it!

  7. Patricia on said:

    Hi Anne! I would like to try to negotiate some scholarship, but my schools are all spread out regionally and tier-wise. Is there an email where I could send you specific school names and numbers for advice on how to negotiate?
    All the best,
    Patricia

    • Hi Patricia, unfortunately I can’t jump in and help at this stage. Try telling your top 2 schools what the other is offering and that you would send a deposit to one if they hit a certain amount. Make your case, and include cost of living factors if they apply.

  8. neurotic0L on said:

    Hi Ann,

    I am currently trying to figure out the best way to negotiate some (see also: any) scholarship money from a top 10 school who did not offer me any money. My current predicament is that I don’t have any comparable acceptances (it’s the only T10 that accepted me; I’m waitlisted at a handful of others). I am currently waiting on scholarship information from GULC, but have also been accepted to various schools with the T15-T25 range with scholarships (some that cover over 75% tuition), as well as received a 100% tuition scholarship from the University of Florida. Obviously, I know that GULC is going to be my best bet for leverage, but can I utilize these other offers as well when negotiating? Pending that I don’t absolutely hate the campus/location when I visit in March, I would definitely attend if they were willing to offer me some money. I just don’t know if I can swallow the amount of debt paying for sticker carries, especially since I am single so, as of right now, I would be the only one financing my education and paying down my loans.

    Thanks!

  9. dave on said:

    Hi Ann
    I got 30 K year from Northeastern, 30 K form Suffolk and Full tuition wavier at New England school of Law in to their Honor’s program. N.E.Law require 3.0 GPA at the end of every year and rest do not have GPA requirement. How can I go about with Northeaster for increasing my merit aid? I prefer to stay in Boston area

  10. Ashley on said:

    Hello Ann,

    So far I have received scholarships from a lot of schools I have gotten into except the one that I want to go to the most. So far I have received $10,000 a year (30,000 overall) from UC Hastings, $10,000 from ASU, $114,500 from Utah, and $21,750 ($65,250 overall) from U of Arizona. I think I want to go to BC the most, but I have yet to hear anything from them about a scholarship yet. Should I email them and ask for a scholarship offer or does the lack of offer mean that they are not planning on giving me a scholarship in the first place? Also if I am trying to raise an offer, should I include all of these offers or only the schools that are higher ranked?

    Thanks.

  11. excited0L on said:

    Hi Ann,

    I’m offered a 105k scholarship from Penn and 75k from NYU. I’m leaning towards NYU’s program because I’m interested in international law. But given the much higher cost of living in NYC, I would need much more $$ from NYU to justify going there. Any advice on how should I negotiate?

    Thanks a lot in advance!

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