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Putting NYU's RTK scholarship on your radar

Posted: Sun Oct 16, 2011 11:41 pm
by NewYorker86
Dear TLS community,

If you are interested in a public interest career and are trying to figure out how to make the financing work for law school, I'd like to point your attention to NYU's Root-Tilden-Kern scholarship. In case you are not familiar with the program, the language from the program description is below. If you have any specific questions, I am a current scholar and would be happy to answer as best I can. I think it's a wonderful program and would strongly encourage everyone who fits the bill to apply.

The Root-Tilden-Kern (RTK) Program is the nation’s premier public service scholarship. The program pays full tuition, without regard to financial need, for three years of law school to outstanding students who promise to pursue public service.

Each year twenty scholars are selected based on three criteria: commitment to public service, academic excellence, and potential for leadership. In addition to full tuition, the RTK program provides special orientation, mentoring, and networking opportunities.

The program defines public service broadly: government policy and legal positions (including judicial clerkships), electoral politics, non-profit organizations, academia, social entrepreneurship, community development, international law, and public interest law firms.

NYU strives to ensure that RTK scholars are diverse in terms of race, sex, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, geographic origins, and ideology. The program believes that diversity is critical to fostering a strong public interest profession. We strongly encourage applications from individuals who share the backgrounds of the disadvantaged communities we reach.

Re: Putting NYU's RTK scholarship on your radar

Posted: Tue Dec 06, 2011 8:29 pm
by blazinswordofjustice
what were your numbers? URM? public service experience?

I'd be interested in how hard it is to get...

Re: Putting NYU's RTK scholarship on your radar

Posted: Tue Dec 06, 2011 8:30 pm
by blazinswordofjustice
on second thought all of your 6 posts are about RTK...are you from admissions or something??

Re: Putting NYU's RTK scholarship on your radar

Posted: Tue Dec 06, 2011 8:56 pm
by Bildungsroman
Do you ever have people with the RTK try and do biglaw? What would be the repercussions for that?

Re: Putting NYU's RTK scholarship on your radar

Posted: Tue Dec 06, 2011 9:02 pm
by soj
Wouldn't students going into PI qualify for LRAP anyway? Can you elaborate on the non-financial benefits of the program?

Re: Putting NYU's RTK scholarship on your radar

Posted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 2:02 am
by NewYorker86
Yeah, I see how it would be easy to think I'm with admissions given the relatively formulaic message. But no, I'm a 1L. We have a committee within the RTK program to work on expanding the program's diversity and I've volunteered to try spreading the word on the TLS forum.

As for my numbers, I'd rather not share those on a public chain. The truth is that I don't think it would be particularly helpful for you to know my numbers or those of any of the other scholars because they vary pretty widely. The 3-pronged selection criteria (commitment to public service, academic excellence, and potential for leadership) are not treated as a mantra. The panels that award the scholarships are very serious about evaluating candidates on all three fronts. However, if you think it would be helpful to know my numbers, you can message me privately and I will respond.

To your question, Bildungsroman, there is an occasional scholar who goes for a firm after school. It's strongly frowned upon both by the administrators at NYU and by the scholarship funders, but there is no contractual obligation not to. It is expected, however, that the scholarship will be repaid.

In terms of the relative financial benefits of LRAP vs. RTK, soj, your intuition is basically correct. Both LRAP recipients and RTK scholars can complete law school without having to pay back any loans. The main difference is probably psychological. People with scholarships come out of school debt-free (or at least with far lower debts) and often feel much freer to take lower-paying PI jobs than people with debt hanging over them - even if the debt will ultimately be paid off (it typically takes 10 years for debt to be fully paid off under LRAP). The other main financial difference is that LRAP will only operate if a graduate has a job that earns them below a certain cap (I'm not not sure what the cap is at this point - no doubt the NYU admissions office website has that stat). Many government jobs a few years out of law school quickly rise above that cap, meaning that LRAP recipients would begin having to pay back their loans after a few years on a salary that is above other PI salaries, but below firm salaries. Scholarship recipients on the other hand have no such constraints.

There are other benefits of the program beyond the financial as well and I would be happy to go into those if you're interested, but I figure I'd leave this post as it is because I've procrastinated from my reading long enough.

Re: Putting NYU's RTK scholarship on your radar

Posted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 8:52 am
by RonnyDworkin
Since you're on the RTK scholarship committee, can you shed light on how ED applicants are viewed. I have just gotten in and applied for a number of the full tuition scholarship. It's refreshing to see that in addition to numbers, there are a host of other factors (which might be given more weight) that come into play. Can you speak to how ED applicants are viewed vis a vis RD applicants? Esp., concerning the conventional wisdom that schools will not give ED admits scholarships? Does the same apply for NYU and its many full tuition scholarships (Furman, Anbryce, RTK)?

Re: Putting NYU's RTK scholarship on your radar

Posted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 2:31 pm
by NewYorker86
Sorry if my last comment was misleading. I'm on a committee specifically created to expand the diversity of the program - not the selection committee. To your question though, my understanding is that all successful applications to NYU that checked the box for RTK are handed off to the Public Interest Law Center as a group some time in January. It is certainly not the case that people who applied earlier and were accepted earlier are not eligible for the scholarship.

I don't know anything about the processes for the other scholarships, which are handled by different offices.

Good luck!

Re: Putting NYU's RTK scholarship on your radar

Posted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 2:20 pm
by Perdevise
Thanks for making this thread. I was accepted to NYU last week, and applied for RTK. Getting one would be a dream come true.

I understand you are more on the diversity side, but I was wondering if you could answer a few of my questions anyway:

NYU's LSAT 75th percentile is insane. Am I sunk with a 170, destined to lose out to people with really high scores?

What kind of merit aid is possible if you don't make the RTK?

Are applicants who use their personal statement as the RTK at a disadvantage to those who write a separate essay? I used my PS, and I understand it might look lazy, but the truth is my PS was dedicated to how my life has set me on the path of public interest, and I thought that writing another essay would be forced and repetitive.

Finally, what kind of positions do RTK graduates have after leaving NYU?

Thanks again.

Re: Putting NYU's RTK scholarship on your radar

Posted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 3:37 pm
by NewYorker86
Congrats on your acceptance! I hope you'll come check it out, speak with some students and faculty, and see how the place feels.

Like I posted above, it's really a fact that applicants' grades are considered holistically together with their commitment to PI and leadership potential. There are certainly RTK scholars with 170 LSAT scores.

In terms of other merit scholarships, I know that there is a Dean's scholarship that I believe is worth full tuition, but I don't know the details or whether or not there are other merit awards.

I wouldn't worry about having used your PS as your RTK essay. I did that too.

Regarding positions RTKs get after graduation, the range is enormous given the breadth of the PI field and the breadth of interests among the scholars. People work for non-profits ranging from the boutique to the national and international; academia; local, regional, and national government; international multilateral organizations; etc. NYU uses a very broad definition of what constitutes PI. One of the best things about being a PI student at NYU is that the resources at the Public Interest Law Center are fantastic. There are alumni working all over and the staff are really connected with them.

Best of luck!

Re: Putting NYU's RTK scholarship on your radar

Posted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 3:54 pm
by Perdevise
Thanks much. I fully intend to come up for ASW, and the prospect of living in NYC/attending NYU is thrilling. In regards to other merit aid, I was just wondering if you out of luck if you don't make RTK. I have a few more questions if you don't mind!

I am reading that the RTK
is renewed annually based on maintaining a “B” average and full participation in program activities and internships.

Is it hard to keep a B average at NYU? Is that equal to a 3.0?

Also, what kind of diversity are you seeking to increase for RTK scholars?

Finally, what kind of cirricular bonuses have you had as a RTK in your 1L year?

Sorry if this is too much, but I am hyper interested in the program.

Re: Putting NYU's RTK scholarship on your radar

Posted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 5:24 pm
by NewYorker86
I don't blame you for being excited - it's an exciting time!

I'm not the best person to ask about how hard it is to maintain a B average since I'm in the middle of my first round of finals and haven't gotten any grades yet. But from what I hear, it's eminently doable. You can probably look up the curve structure somewhere on the NYU website to see what percentage of each class gets a B.

I'd point you to the categories of diversity in the first post on this thread to get an idea for the areas in which the RTK program is looking to bolster its ranks, but we're really looking to broaden our reaches to include more of any category of individual that tends to be underrepresented in the legal community.

The side perks to the program (what you call curricular bonuses, but which I'm opting to define more broadly) include monthly dinner programs with faculty and alums, devoted attention from faculty and administrators, and a tailored mentoring support network. I think the two best things about the program are the community it creates and the doors it opens. NYU, like most law schools, is a big place and most of the students are pursuing the firm track. Even in smaller law schools, people with public interest focuses can feel a little swallowed up by the machine that is specifically designed to turn students into law firm associates. I've found it amazing to have a community of people all committed to a "different" kind of law school and post-law school experience. Scholars tend to have widely varying interests (though typically within the realm of what you might call "do-gooder") and it's really refreshing and sustaining to be a part of a group of people who, like you, all have their eyes on an alternative prize.

With respect to the door-opening effect of the scholarship, I have found that faculty and administrators are very interested in speaking with the scholars about research opportunities, internships, life, etc. I can't say if that's because of the RTK imprimatur, because the scholars are a self-selecting group of people who tend to be assertive about their interests, or some other reason, but it's out there. And then there's also the perk of the RTK name, which is highly respected in the public interest field, and gives you a boost in the job market.

Please don't take any of this to mean, however, that only RTK scholars get to enjoy these benefits. There are A LOT of students not in the program doing PI work, and they also have access to the Public Interest Law Center's considerable resources. The NYU faculty is broadly very open and friendly to everyone. Friends of mine not on the scholarship who are also doing PI have been able to do great things. So while RTK is difficult to get, I would not be discouraged if it doesn't work out. That said, good luck!

Re: Putting NYU's RTK scholarship on your radar

Posted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 5:28 pm
by Perdevise
Thank you again for the useful information. I like the idea of not being isolated in the school because I won't be on the firm track. I hope your exams went well.

Re: Putting NYU's RTK scholarship on your radar

Posted: Mon Dec 19, 2011 6:17 pm
by addy11