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Applying To Law School? 7 Ways To Save Money

Written by Brett McKay

This is a guest post from Ann K. Levine. Ann is a law school admission consultant and proprietor of www.LawSchoolExpert.net and http://lawschoolexpert@blogspot.com. Since starting LawSchoolExpert in 2004, Ms. Levine has helped more than 500 applicants gain acceptance to law school. Ms. Levine works one-on-one with law school applicants nationwide, calling upon her expertise as the former director of admission for two ABA law schools. She reviewed thousands of applications each year and was primarily responsible for making all admission decisions at Loyola Law School and California Western School of Law. She now uses this expertise to the benefit of applicants, helping them create applications that maximize their chances for admission.

1. Ask each law school on your list for a fee waiver. (But be wary of law schools that voluntarily offer you an application fee waiver)

2. Don’t buy the worst law school admission book I’ve ever read.

3. Don’t take the LSAT without preparing adequately for it, otherwise you’ll waste the cost of taking the exam, the opportunity cost of having missed out on the benefit of rolling admissions, and the potentially increased cost of having to sign up late in the game for LSAT prep courses. While some people are good standardized test takers and/or skilled at self-study, I’ve found that most law school applicants benefit from an LSAT prep course. Sometimes you have to spend money to save money.

4. Choose your schools wisely. Don’t waste application fees on schools that aren’t right for your qualifications and/or goals. Analyze location , apply to the appropriate number of schools, and choose some schools where your LSAT and GPA are at or above the 75th percentile for that school so you can (hopefully) receive some great scholarships and save some major money down the line.

5. Put 100% effort into the quality of your applications. Avoid having to re-apply to law school. Every year, I work with people who tried to apply the previous year and were disappointed with the results. Don’t let this happen to you – apply wisely so you don’t have to spend money to re-apply the following year, and you don’t want to delay the year of post-law-school income either.

6. Participate in one of my Free 1-hour Webinars. The next one, entitled “I’ve taken the LSAT; Now What?”, will be offered twice in October – October 1st at 8 p.m. EST/5 p.m. PST and October 6th at Noon EST/9 a.m. PST. Each webinar is limited to the first 15 registrants to assure that everyone has a chance to ask questions. To sign up, e-mail me at alevine@lawschoolexpert.net

7.Hire a Law School Admission Consultant. Seriously. Good advice is worth a lot. And that advice could save you from wasting money applying to the wrong schools, buying the wrong law school admission related books, taking the wrong prep course, using a letter of rec that kills you, submitting an inappropriate resume, and writing a trite or cliched personal statement. Hiring a law school admission consultant means doing it right the first time and saving money by increasing your chances for admission at more of the schools on your list, and increasing your chances for scholarships at more of the schools that admit you. Here are some tips for choosing a law school admission counselor.

Thanks, for that great post! If you’re interested in guest posting on The Frugal Law Student, please feel free to contact me.

Law School Debt Round Up

Written by Mrs. FLS

Graffiti for Scholarships

Written by Brett McKay

There’s a site called Graffitipad that’s hoping to raise money to provide 60 $1,000 scholarships to college students for the next five years. They’re doing it by selling pixels for $.49 each in which a company or person can put their mark. It’s like The Million Dollar Homepage (why didn’t I think of that?!) but going to the fight against student debt. Bravo!

Be careful with tuition waivers.

Written by Brett McKay

Be careful? What do you mean be careful? It’s free money! True, but there are few things you should be aware of when accepting money from certain law schools, particularly lowered tiered schools.

Law school, like all of American higher education, is a business. Competition among schools can be fierce. Flaming the fire of law school competition is U.S. News’s annual rankings. Each year, schools attempt to go up in the rankings, so they can attract more students. These students bring prestige and money to the school.

The schools that are battling the hardest to go up in the rankings are usually the third and fourth tier schools. One of their best tools is tuition waivers. Here’s how it works.

Two of the criteria that U.S. News and World report uses to rank schools are students’ LSAT scores and undergrad GPA. Third and fourth tier schools often have low averages in both criteria. So, in order to attract high scorers, these schools offer very lucrative scholarships. An applicant who may have had a high enough score to get into a first or second tier school without any scholarship offers can often get full rides from tier three and four schools. Thus, many financially savvy law students pick the school that, while ranked low, offer them the most money.

Remember, if something is too good to be true, then it probably is. In order to maintain your scholarship, you usually have to maintain a 3.0 gpa while in law school. This doesn’t seem too bad. The problem is that most lower tiered schools have wicked 1st year grading curves. At most, the average grade is a 2.75. That means most students won’t even get a 3.0 average. For example, at my school, only 30% of students will have a 3.0 at the end of their first year. Yikes.

What does this mean to your scholarship? Well, think about it. The law school can afford to offer several well funded scholarships, knowing that only a few of the students will actually keep them because of the curve. So, if you don’t maintain a 3.0 you’re stuck with several problems. First, you can’t transfer to a better school because of your GPA isn’t good enough. Second, you’re stuck picking up the entire bill for tuition. And third, you’re going to have a tough time finding an internship during the summer. How do you explain a bad GPA at a low ranked school?

Does it suck? Well, yes, but it’s an incredibly smart business move. You might be thinking, “Aw, third and Fourth tier students are a bunch of dummies, I can handle it.” I wouldn’t be so sure. Sure, what third and fourth tier students lack in LSAT and GPA, they make up with it in hard work. Also, one thing a friend (who was also offered a huge scholarship from the school) and I have noticed is that almost everyone in our section has really good scholarships. We might be completely paranoid, but we think the school has put all the scholarship students in the same section, so they can weed each other out. It’s like Survivor!

Anyway, just remember if you get offered an awesome scholarship from a lower tiered school to make sure and check what their grading curve is. It might be better to go somewhere else.