Law school, like many other professional degrees, is known for being extremely expensive, but potentially lucrative. Lawyers are among the highest paid professionals. However, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics, the average law student will graduate with over $140,000 of debt. This is where law school scholarships can come into play and help you pay for your J.D.!
Keep on reading to learn about how you can start your career in the legal profession while cutting down on student debt!
School-specific law scholarships
- Santa Clara Law School Dean’s Fellow Scholarship – Provides up to full tuition for a student. Automatically considered upon submission of application
- University of Minnesota Law Scholarships – Awards up to full tuition for incoming students
- University of Chicago David M. Rubenstein Scholarship – Provides up to 60 full-tuition scholarships at U Chicago per year
- University of Virginia Karsh-Dillard Scholarship – Awards up to full tuition for University of Virginia law students
- Boston University School of Law Dean’s Scholarship – Awards full tuition scholarships for a select number of students
- Ohio State University Michael E. Moritz Merit Scholarship – Full tuition plus $2,500 annual stipend for select law students
- Scalia Law Scholars Early Decision Program – Students who commit to George Mason’s Scalia School of Law with Early Decision may be eligible for a full-tuition scholarship
- University of Arizona Techlaw Fellowship – Law students with a STEM background can receive full tuition plus a stipend at University of Arizona
- University of Colorado Boulder Law Scholarships – University of Colorado Boulder offers many scholarships for incoming students, and full-ride scholarships for continuing students who show promise
Other scholarships for J.D. candidates
The above scholarships are all specific for J.D. candidates, but there are other scholarships that are for graduate students in general. These graduate school scholarships are definitely worth checking out as you search for new scholarship opportunities. You can also check out our general guide to graduate school financial aid options.
As we mentioned, the majority of scholarships for law school students will be awarded by individual law schools. Here are some tips to ensure that you will be in the running for merit scholarship opportunities.
Focus on your essay
As with any type of scholarship, writing a strong essay will greatly increase your chances of winning a scholarship for law school. Keep in mind that scholarship committees often read thousands of applications, so it’s important to craft a compelling essay that makes an impression. Whether you are interested in focusing your legal studies on racial justice, public service, or corporate law, make a compelling case as to why you were drawn to this subject and why you will perform well.
Fortunately, we have a host of resources designed to help you write the best essay possible. These include guides on how to write a winning essay, how to write an essay about yourself, how to start and end your essay, and how to write a 250 or 500 word essay. The essay is one of the most important parts of the application, so be sure to give it the time and effort it deserves!
Prep for your LSAT
The LSAT is the entrance exam that law schools use in the United States. In both the law school admissions and scholarship process, the LSAT carries a lot of weight. For context, the top score possible on the LSAT is a 180.
As you are thinking about law school, you will absolutely want to spend time prepping for the LSAT and may even want to take a prep course to ensure that you are ready.
Pick the right law schools
Not all law schools award a large number of scholarships, Therefore, it is important for you to pick the right law schools that award a high percentage of students with aid. These law schools award strong financial aid packages ranging from partial scholarships to full tuition to awards that are above and beyond full tuition.
Our advice is to identify law schools where your LSAT score is about the published 75th percentile at the law school. This will give you a good idea of the schools where you are a strong candidate for merit scholarships.
You should also take a close look at the post-graduate earnings and job placement for alumni of the law school. This will help you assess how this particular JD program might pay off for you. Remember, salaries for lawyers are not alike. The average corporate lawyer is going to be taking home a much bigger paycheck than a public defender. Keep this in mind when assessing data points around starting salaries.
Don’t forget about need-based aid
Merit scholarships are only part of the equation of paying for law school. The other part of the equation is need based financial aid, which includes need based grants and student loans. This is why we recommend that every law school student applies for financial aid using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA.
Take advantage of in-state tuition
There are over 80 public law schools that are approved by the American Bar Association, so chances are that one of your state universities has a law school.
One of the great things about public universities is that they offer discounted tuition for residents of their state! Take a look at some of these examples to see how residents save money:
|Law School||In-state Tuition||Out-of-State Tuition|
|U of Alabama||$23,610||$43,060|
|U of Connecticut||$30,354||$61,396|
|U of Kansas||$22,769||$28,804|
|U of North Carolina||$24,480||$41,626|
|U of Texas||$36,429||$54,096|
Tuition rates are for the 2020-2021 academic year
In-state tuition for residents represents a large tuition discount at many colleges and universities, so this is something that you should absolutely consider.
Some states will also have tuition reciprocity agreements, so you may be able to qualify for in-state tuition as an out-of-state student.
Law school can be tough, but there are a lot of folks out there who want to help you succeed! Check out the following organizations dedicated to supporting law students:
This non-profit organization is best known for administering the LSAT, but LSAC also provides services to support aspiring law school students. For example, the organization offers free LSAT test prep in partnership with Khan Academy. LSAC provides other free resources such as helpful checklists for applying to law school, guides on how to choose the right program, and webinar series on navigating the law school admissions process.
The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers and law students in the world. On their website, the organization has a helpful page dedicated to free resources for law students and law schools. These include articles on how to make it through law school and succeed as a lawyer, podcasts hosted by professional lawyers, and more!
This website is loaded with useful tools to help students navigate their law school journey. These include everything from podcasts and written guides to workshops, tutoring, and personalized career help. The best part is that a lot of these resources are free!
Frequently asked questions about law school scholarships
How hard is it to get a law school scholarship?
It is not uncommon for law schools to offer scholarships; as of 2019, 73.3% of law students were receiving some form of financial aid. However, this doesn’t mean it’s easy to earn financial aid for law school. You’ll have to seek out opportunities and apply for them.
Oftentimes, law schools offer scholarships in the form of fellowships. Many law students work for a law firm, NGO, or land a graduate assistantship during their education. This makes law school more affordable while providing students with valuable work experience.
You can also apply for private scholarships such as the ones on this list. Another great resource is our scholarship search tool. You can use this tool to receive custom-matched scholarship opportunities that automatically update as deadlines pass and open. This way, you’ll never miss out on a potential scholarship!
When should you apply for law school scholarships?
It’s never too early or too late to apply for law school scholarships! If you are considering going straight into law school from undergrad, you can start looking at opportunities during summer before your senior year. This way, you can scope out opportunities to apply to throughout the year and start working on your essays.
But once the year starts, don’t stop applying! New opportunities open all the time, so to maximize your scholarship funds, you should check back periodically for new ones.
Does FAFSA pay for law school?
If you are applying for financial aid in law school, you will have to fill out the FAFSA. Law school students are eligible through federal student loans through the FAFSA. However, they are not eligible for Pell Grants. So, while the FAFSA is useful for applying for law school, it will not earn you direct federal funds. Your FAFSA will qualify you for institutional aid and for student loans.
How common is it to get a full ride for law school?
In general, full rides are highly uncommon in education. However, there are a few ways that students can get a full ride law school scholarship if they play their cards right. One of the best ways is to get an employer to pay for you. You can look into tuition reimbursement as an option, for example. Other law schools offer students many opportunities to earn money, whether it is through graduate assistantships or other paid opportunities.
Some law firms also partner with universities to pay for students’ education. For example, at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law, two law firms offer diversity fellowships.
Can you get a Pell Grant to pay for law school?
You cannot use a Pell Grant to pay for law school. Only undergraduate students are eligible for Pell Grants. However, many institutions offer grants for potential students. You should reach out to any law school you are interested in to see whether they offer specific grants.
Related: How to become a paralegal
What LSAT score gets scholarships?
The best way to get a scholarship with your LSAT score is to apply to schools where your score falls in the top 25th percentile of admitted students. This will make the school more likely to offer you a scholarship to attract you there.
But remember, law schools offer scholarships for many reasons besides the LSAT. They also offer many diversity scholarships and base some awards on financial need. Some set aside scholarships for students planning to get into civil rights or public interest law.
Explore these other scholarship categories:
- Top graduate school scholarships
- Top scholarships for college students
- Easy scholarships to apply to
- Top scholarships for women
- Top scholarships for college seniors
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