Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Student Loan Series: The Law School Scholarship Scam

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Barrister on a Budget just wrapped its four-part series on applying to law school, and with most of your admission applications in, it’s now time to start filing your FASFA applications and figuring out how to finance your education.  However, there’s more to think about than just applying for loans.  Over the next three weeks, we’ll discuss false scholarships, how some loans can affect your credit score, and what happens to financial assistance if you drop a class.  Stay informed with this three-part series on student loans.
As interest in law school continues to dwindle across the country, schools are attempting to ignite more attention – or at least hook the best in the small pool – by offering substantial scholarships upon admittance to the program.  However, despite even your best efforts, you may lose these scholarships after the first year or even the first semester!
These scholarships – gaining notoriety as “exploding scholarships” or “bait-and-switch scholarships” – come with conditions.  Some may require you to maintain a certain GPA or achieve a specified rank in order to keep the scholarship and not just after one semester or year, but for every semester until you graduate.  Many students – as great as they may have been with their undergraduate education – cannot reach or maintain these harsh standards in law school and lose their scholarships.  Already invested in their education, students are trapped in deciding between paying for the rest of their law school education or dropping out.  Thus, the bait-and-switch.
Don’t assume that this can’t happen to you.  Sadly, there are many top LSAT-takers who end up in the bottom-half of their class, losing their precious scholarships in the process.  Be absolutely clear with the law school what the terms are for a merit scholarship; try to negotiate for an irrevocable scholarship—or go elsewhere.  After all, if they really want you because of your stellar LSAT score, chances are others do, too. No one will look out for your interest. You need to do that.

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Until Next Time,
Jenny L. Maxey
Author of Barrister on a Budget: Investing in Law School…without Breaking the Bank

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