After Spring Break — PLAS Financial Aid Week!

As you head out for Spring Break, don’t forget that PLAS Financial Aid Week begins March 31, with a very informative workshop on how to navigate the law school financial aid process.  In addition, PLAS will be offering appointment slots for those of you still trying to understand and decide among your various law school offers.  We have designated Tuesday, April 1, for those meetings.  Call 333-9669 to schedule your appointment!
Financing Law School Workshop, Featuring Julie Griffin, Assistant Director of Financial Aid at the College of Law and Donna Davis, 3L and PLAS Grad Assistant
Monday, March 31, 5-6pm,
UIUC College of Law, Room F, 504 East Pennsylvania Avenue
Financial aid at the law school level is quite different than for undergraduates. Join us for this in-depth workshop to learn: What forms of financial aid exist for law school? What should you be looking for in an aid offer? How can you budget for law school expenses in advance? What are common pitfalls for students who don’t understand the aid process? Julie Griffin, Assistant Director of Financial Aid at the College of Law, and Donna Davis, current 3L and Pre-Law Advising Services Graduate Assistant, will share their experience and expertise with financial aid from both the expert and the law student’s perspective. This is a must-see for anyone considering law school! No registration necessary. This event is part of Financial Aid Week.

What to do if you are waiting, wait listed, or seeking more aid

We’re hearing from a lot of students who have submitted their applications and now find themselves either waiting to hear back or trying to negotiate financial aid packages. Here are some helpful tips and pointers from the Pre-Law Advisors and from Dean Burns at DePaul Law to help you position yourself in the best manner for admission and aid!

If you’re still waiting for an admission decision…
You are NOT alone! Many students tell us they have been waiting weeks or months. What is going on? It could mean:

  • The school is essentially “wait listing” you, but not calling it that, by waiting to respond to you until they see the rest of the applicant pool.
  • The admissions office is understaffed or inundated with applications.
  • You applied so late in the cycle that a backlog of applications must be reviewed before yours.

What can you do?

  • IF it has been at least 4-6 weeks or whatever time frame the school has indicated, reach out and gently inquire about anticipated time frames for a decision.
  • Follow the law school on Twitter; many deans have taken to updating applicants about expected decisions there.
  • Don’t: Complain about their slowness or criticize the school’s process, tell them you’ve already heard back from everyone else or from “better” schools, give the school a deadline. Sometimes patience is key.

If you’ve been waitlisted…Understand what this means: that you are an admissible candidate but the school needs to hit its institutional goals before they can admit you. Institutional goals could be LSAT/GPA related but could also be related to balancing the class with regard to gender, diversity, in state/out of state, age, etc. Very few schools can accurately predict how many applicants–and with what qualities–they will be pulling from a wait list. When the school tells you they don’t know, it is very likely true.

What can you do?

  • Follow the school’s directions carefully. Some law schools will ask you to confirm that you want to be on their wait list–if you don’t do so, you will not be considered.
  • Update your application by sending an updated resume, a new recommendation, or a letter or email expressing continued interest in that school.
  • Stay in touch–no more than once every week or two–to demonstrate your interest in the school. IF the school is your top choice, then say so.
  • Continue to make other plans. No one should proceed by “expecting” to be pulled from a wait list…even if this does happen, it can be anytime up to the day classes begin. You need to start making other plans if you haven’t heard by April or so.

If you are seeking more financial aid…
Understand that a law school must offer many more admissions and scholarships than they can actually sustain to achieve the class they want. (For example, they may need to admit 3-4 people to fill every one seat in the class.) This means that at this point in the cycle, a law school is waiting to see how many people accept the offers that have been extended.

What can you do if you want to seek more aid?

  • Start by closely examining your aid offers. Are they for one year or multiple years? Are they contingent on maintaining a certain GPA? How much is the admission and cost of living at each school? Does the school “freeze” its tuition, or should you expect it to rise every year? Make sure you understand your out of pocket expenditures for each offer before you start making comparisons.
  • Call or email the school and politely inquire whether additional aid opportunities exist. Consider including relevant information about your financial status that is not apparent from your application. Examples: Indicate if you are servicing a large debt from undergrad, or if you are supporting family members.
  • It is fine to share your other offers with a school, but know that schools may not consider your other offers to be from comparable institutions.
  • Don’t: Give ultimatums or threats, and don’t expect a law school to “match” another institution outright. Sometimes a law school truly does not have aid left to give, even if they think you are a great candidate.

Financial aid at the law school level is complex, and we’ve developed a special workshop to help! Please join us for Financing Law School on Mar. 31 at 5:00 in the Law Building. Click here for more info.

And, as always, feel free to make an appointment to discuss your offers and next steps with a Pre-Law Advisor! Call 333-9669 to set up an appointment.