Congrats, you’ve been accepted to law school! However, that great feeling can be followed by one of dread when you see the financial aid offers and scholarships you’ve been awarded. Your financial aid package can make the difference between which schools are feasible and which are not. Most aspiring law school students do not realize that many law schools are open to a dialogue surrounding scholarship offers beyond what they originally offered. It is important to note that while the majority of schools will engage in this conversation with prospective students, it is not universal.
So how do you get started with scholarship negotiation?
The first step is to narrow down your choices. The point of scholarship negotiations is not to pit schools against each other, but rather to achieve the best offer possible for a school that you want to attend. By creating a short list of schools, you can put a lot more detail in your argument for why you both want and need the scholarship.
Following this, create an in-depth cost and compensation chart including: cost of education, living, scholarships offered, whether the tuition is “frozen” or not, and renewal stipulations. Renewal stipulations are when schools attach a requirement that must be achieved in order for the scholarship to be renewed. An example of this would be a GPA renewal stipulation in which a student must achieve “X” GPA in their first year in order to receive the scholarship a second year. Create a cost and compensation chart for every school you wish to negotiate with.
Once you have compiled all the information, write emails to each school. Make sure to include your cost and compensation chart and what other schools are offering you. When writing the email, discuss any extenuating circumstances that may affect your finances and ability to afford their school. Be genuine in your ask and tell them that you want to attend their school but due to x, y, and z it does not work financially for you. Essentially, the idea is to let them know that their school is a top choice of yours and would be the top choice if they extended a larger scholarship, and that other schools do find that value in you through their offers.
If the school responds with an increase in your scholarship, reply with a thank you and give them an anticipated timeline on your final decision as to not leave them hanging. If the school declines to increase your scholarship, still respond with a thank you as they took the time to consider your request.
Additionally, some general notes throughout the process are:
- Do Not: Be unprofessional or casual in your communications, and check your spelling and grammar before submission.
- Do: Keep the schools that you compare within a relatively close financial distance if possible. If one school offers a $10,000 scholarship and the other offers a $15,000 scholarship they are a lot more likely to match than a $10,000 scholarship and a $70,000 scholarship.
- Do Not: Be arrogant in your request or “threaten” them by saying that you will not attend their school if they do not comply.
- Do: Approach your negotiation with grace, caution, and care. Let them know that you appreciate their consideration!