Negotiating Scholarship Offers

For many people, the cost of law school is an important factor when considering if and where to go to law school. Scholarships undoubtedly help cover the cost of tuition, but what if your top school isn't offering you as much scholarship money as another school? Negotiating scholarship offers is something that future law students can do to potentially sweeten the deal from their choice law school. For this post, I asked my friend from undergrad, who is currently a 1L at a different law school, for some advice on how to negotiate scholarships.

He first told me that he would always ask for more money. The worst that could happen is that the school would say no. (They would not rescind your admission or previous scholarship offer.) He suggests emailing admissions or, if you’ve toured the school and met with a particular admissions officer, email that person directly and explain your situation.

He would usually emailed the admissions representative after he met with them. A sample email he sent was: "It was a pleasure meeting you, I appreciated your time and advice. As we discussed, money is an important aspect in my decision. I was wondering if there was any opportunity to receive additional scholarships?” (Sometimes they won't be able to offer additional scholarship, but schools may send a list of outside scholarships they recommend you apply for.)

I asked him specifically about whether he would share his scholarship offers from other schools. He said he would. He said that once you ask for additional scholarships, a school may ask if you have offers from other schools. Then you can disclose that info. (However, I did have some schools request that I not share my scholarship offers with other schools. If a school requests that you keep your scholarship offer from them private, you should honor that request.)

Something to keep in mind, he says, is that it helps to have schools from the same rank and geographical area to compare. For example, a law school in the Midwest is more likely to give you more money if another law school in their tier and area is also giving you more money. A high ranking school from the East Coast is not likely to be persuaded by a full ride from a lower ranking school on the West Coast. Make sure you are comparing apples with apples and not apples with oranges.

Sometimes, if a school cannot offer you additional scholarship money, they may offer you something else. For example, one school offered my friend a research assistant position because they couldn't offer him more scholarship money.

Finally, law schools may not be able to offer you more money for a variety of reasons. That does not mean the school does not want you. If they extended an offer of acceptance in the first place, they want you to attend their school. Don't take a school's inability to offer you more scholarship money as a rejection.


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