Show me the $$$

At this point in the law school admissions cycle most people have been accepted to multiple places and are waiting on a few more. What financial steps should you be taking now?

  • Complete your FAFSA. Most people will be utilizing federal loans for some portion of their law school expenses, and completing the FAFSA is the first step in that process. Many law schools will also ask you to complete the FAFSA to consider you for need-based aid. Speaking of…
  • Read your admission offers/aid packages carefully. Many schools will invite admitted applicants to apply for specific school-based scholarships after admission, so make sure that you are paying attention to those applications and deadlines. Now is a good time to work on those “invited” scholarship applications. In addition…
  • Educate yourself about how law school financial aid works and what you should know about it. AccessLex, a nonprofit, offers excellent free online resources to help you calculate your student loan costs, understand the types of aid offered, and plan your law school budgets. Check out their excellent guide Financing Your Legal Education here. We also have paper versions of this guide in the office if you’d like to stop by and pick one up. They are also offering a free Financing Your Legal Education webinar; click the link to register .
  • Crunch the numbers.┬áDo not compare two scholarships and assume that the bigger scholarship is a better deal! When comparing scholarship offers, you must consider the following
    • Add up tuition over 3 years, and assume a 3-5% increase in tuition each year unless the law school guarantees or “freezes” tuition. (Is this included in your offer?)
    • Subtract the scholarship amount from this tuition estimate.
    • Now look at the living expenses budget provided by the school and add this in, assuming a 3-5% increase each year.
    • What is your actual OUT OF POCKET expense for attending each school to which you’ve been accepted? Add your final tuition costs together with your living expenses to estimate this.
    • These are the numbers you should be considering and presenting to law schools when asking for reconsideration of your scholarship package. Show that you’ve done your research.
  • Apply for other scholarships. In addition to scholarships from the law school, there are many other scholarship opportunities for which incoming law students are eligible. Check out our database of 286 scholarships (many for law students and some for continuing undergrads) over on our Compass page!
  • Learn how to effectively and respectfully negotiate your scholarship offers. Join us for a Negotiating Law School Scholarships workshop in which a panel of law school deans share their expertise on February 26 at 5:00 pm in 1090 Lincoln Hall. What should you ask? What should you avoid saying? What are effective reasons for increasing aid, and what is a nonstarter? Find out from the deans of the University of Illinois College of Law, DePaul University College of Law, and Chicago-Kent Illinois Institute of Technology College of Law. Click here for more details.
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