Finding Scholarships for Law School
Law school is expensive. This is not news. In addition to the cost of tuition, law school case books and other materials can add up to thousands of dollars over a 3 year period. Plus, there are living expenses such as rent, utilities and food. Of course, student loans are available. However, the prospect of leaving law school with student loan debt topping $100k is not something that any law student looks forward to. And working during law school is difficult, considering the amount of work that is necessary to keep up and excel academically. Fortunately, there are thousands of sources of free money for law school in the form of scholarships. To tap into it, all you have to do is set aside a little time to research scholarship opportunities and apply.
Directories and Databases
There are many online databases for educational scholarships. For example, Peterson’s, a company that has a long history of compiling scholarship information, now has a website for online scholarship searches. Admissions Dean allows you to search for law school scholarship opportunities by criteria such as ethnic background, political or religious affiliation, or disability. While the internet has many resources, do not shun low tech resources such as traditional, old-school book form directories that are available in libraries and bookstores. Some directories have hundreds of scholarship listings and may list scholarship programs that are not in online databases.
Most law schools have lists of outside scholarships in the financial aid section of their websites. Do not just look for scholarship opportunities on the website of the law schools you plan to attend visit the websites of as many law schools as you can as most of the scholarships list will not be school specific.
Bar Associations/Law Organizations
Contact national bar associations such as the American Bar Association, as well as state, county, and city bar associations, as most offer scholarships to law students. There are also hundreds of specialty bar associations, such as those for various ethnic groups and those for women.
Many nonprofit organizations, large and small, offer scholarships. Some scholarships are very targeted in that you must be part of the organization’s target population to apply. In other cases anyone can apply. First consider organizations with which you or your family members are affiliated. For example, your church may have scholarship opportunities. Fraternities and sororities often offer scholarships to members. Organizations that support people with physical challenges and disabilities often offer scholarships.
If you are a veteran, or one of your parent’s is a veteran, there are many scholarship opportunities. Visit government websites as well as nonprofit organizations that benefit veterans and their families.
Your Alma Mater
Most colleges have resources for those who are applying to law school and other graduate programs. Contact your undergraduate institution’s graduate school counselor who will be able to direct you to resources.
Many employers offer scholarship competitions for employees and their children. The human resources department will have such information.
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As you research scholarships, keep an open mind. There are thousands of scholarship opportunities for law students. While many scholarships are awarded based on academic merit, many are not. Some are based on financial need. Other recipients are selected based on an essay. Still others are awarded to students based on other factors. While the most sought after scholarships will pay your entire tuition, plus expenses, most will pay a specific dollar amount. Do not shun small scholarships. A $500 scholarship will cover a couple of casebooks.
Finally, while larger, well-publicized scholarships are very competitive, there are many scholarships that receive only a small handful of applicants. There are even cases when a scholarship is not awarded because no one applied. It is worthwhile to set aside time to research scholarships and to apply to as many as possible. After all, why take out student loans if you do not have to?