Top 3 Tips for Negotiating a Law School Scholarship

Law School Expert Blog

(This post was originally from 2012. I’m updating it on June 18, 2019 with changes marked in bold because times have changed yet again).

When I was a Director of Admissions at a law school in California twelve (19) 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. (ACTUALLY, they have changed again: schools are getting fed up with the requests and many schools are flat out telling people they won’t negotiate scholarships. However, some are still doing it

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 or writing 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. Analyze the cost of attending one school versus another.
  3. Explain why an increased scholarship offer would make all the difference in choosing where to attend, and agree to withdraw other applications if they give you what you’re asking for.
  4. Be sure to understand the terms of renewing your scholarship and keep this in mind when determining a scholarship’s value.
  5. You can continue this after submitting your first deposit to a school if you get more information that changes your circumstances.
  6. If you apply binding to a law school, they have little incentive to give you a scholarship or increase your award, so keep that in mind.
  7. Some schools are notoriously flexible (Georgetown, for example) and some are notoriously not (George Washington, for example).

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.

28 Responses

  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?


      1. Dear Ann, love your site! Is a scholarship offer Loyola Chicago good enough to negotiate with UIUC? Their rankings are a little far apart – 41 vs 70 but both schools have a strong presence in Chicago legal market. Thanks for your advice.

  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. 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. 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

    1. Hello,

      Did GW law send scholarship information in their email to you informing you that you are admitted?

      Please let me know.

      Thank you

  6. 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.

    1. 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. 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,

    1. 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. 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.


  9. 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. 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?


  11. 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!

  12. Hi Anne! I applied to some part time programs and some full time programs; all in the same part of the country. Do you think it’s possible to leverage a scholarship from a full time program to get more of a scholarship from a part time program? Thanks!!

  13. Hi Ann,

    Thanks so much for this post! I have your hard copy of the 2017 edition of the Law School Admissions Game, and will certainly be engulfing myself in the scholarship negotiation chapters of it! I wanted to ask: are Wash U in St. Louis and Duke closely enough ranked to warrant negotiation? I’m looking at a very significant differential in aid amounts between the two, but don’t want to risk Duke thinking that I’m wasting their time with trying to negotiate with Wash U’s numbers. Thank you in advance!!!

  14. If I’ve already accepted the seat deposit and then another school offered a scholarship, can I still negotiate?

    The school that I accepted has a lower ranking and lower scholarship than the other university.

  15. URM. LSAT 163. GPA 3+ – Political Science – Stony Brook University. No decision yet from Columbia and Boston College. Accepted from UConn/North Eastern/Hofstra. Full academic scholarship from Hofstra. Will have to borrow 100% for tuition. Parents assisting heavily with living expenses. Strategy recommendations for obtaining scholarships from either UConn or North Eastern.

  16. Hey ann,

    so I have a full ride offer from Penn State(64), and 1/2 off Temple(63), but I’d much rather live in Philly than UP transition to Carlisle, so how do I negotiate the PSU offer? Do I literally screenshot the Penn State email where they say all tuition is covered or?

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