Need-Based Aid: Want Some?

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ela7117
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Need-Based Aid: Want Some?

Postby ela7117 » Wed Aug 18, 2010 1:02 pm

I’ve started a few applications, and have come across questions that ask about intention for seeking need-based aid. Like most law students, I need external support (loans, grants) to fund 95% of my education. However, I don’t think I qualify as very ‘needy’. I have a good amount of savings and upper-middle class parents (no intention to contribute to law school). I know my parent’s income is taken into account when applying for need. I’ve been working for two years, and my current salary is decent. Of course, that salary wont help when I'm in school full time.

Is there any harm in selecting ‘Yes’ to these questions? If there is free money to be had, I need/want it. I don’t want to take myself out of the running for funding; however, I don’t want to hurt my chances at admission or seem greedy. I know top tier schools boast need-blind admissions, but who really knows. It has been questioned before, at least at undergrad level. Maybe my financial situation is better than most, but I’m still looking at $$$ debt over mid term.

What are your thoughts? What’s your approach?

Btw, I’m blanketing T14.


Samples from Columbia/Chicago below.

Do you intend to apply for a need-based financial aid grant? – Columbia

If you are admitted, do you want the scholarship committee to consider financial need when evaluating your file for a scholarship award? – Univ. Chicago


Article on Realistic Need-Blind & Need-Aware Admission Practices http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/31/educa ... llege.html

Aggiegrad2011
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Re: Need-Based Aid: Want Some?

Postby Aggiegrad2011 » Wed Aug 18, 2010 1:09 pm

I also struggled with this, starting with the LSAC fee waiver. I was denied their fee waiver because we had too much money in our checking account (Was I a fool to disclose that accurately? Something told me no...) at a WHOPPING $900. So, I e-mailed LSAC with specific questions. The basic response to me was that if you NEED it (i.e., you have $30 to your name), then you get it. If you don't N E E D it, you don't get it.

It seems as though in both of our cases, given our background and having "enough" but will still incur debt, we're basically out of luck. I was told that even if I were to appeal, and run my checking account down to nothing beforehand, LSAC will require 3 months of bank statements prior to actually funding the fee waivers for me. I understand that this a fairly new occurrence, as no one else has really mentioned that about the fee waiver appeal in the past.

So, while you may incur debt OP, you do not NEED the waivers (probably). For a really great look at their attitude about the whole thing, you need not look further than the quip: Since applications are only a TINY percentage of a law school education, we don't give out too many waivers.

As far as being greedy about individual schools, I don't think that's a big deal, and I will be applying for those waivers as well. They're there for the applying!

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ela7117
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Re: Need-Based Aid: Want Some?

Postby ela7117 » Wed Aug 18, 2010 1:14 pm

appreciate the feedback. just to clarify, I'm not applying for any application or LSAC fee waivers.

what I refer to is specifically noted in the admission applications as my intention to apply for a school-provided need-based scholarship (not merit) which are grants or loans (distributed directly by the school at what I assume are competitive rates).

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vanwinkle
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Re: Need-Based Aid: Want Some?

Postby vanwinkle » Wed Aug 18, 2010 1:21 pm

At the law school level, almost all need-based aid will be in the form of loans. You might get some school-backed loans with very low interest rates, but for the most part schools just hand out Stafford and GradPLUS loans and consider that need-based aid for law students. The system works like this because it's assumed that you'll either 1) make bank when you graduate and use that money to pay off your loans or 2) go into PI and use IBR or their LRAP to manage your debt.

Schools don't have endowments large enough to let them give money to everyone, and rankings are highly competitive, so these days they tend to focus grant money on merit, since merit aid convinces people with good numbers to attend and helps the school boost their medians. HYS are really the only schools that give significant amounts of need-based grants, and they're really only free to do so because they can maintain their medians just off of people willing to pay full price to go there.

It's a supply and demand thing. HYS have a steady supply of highly qualified applicants and doesn't need to give merit grants to attract them, so they can save that money and use it for need-based aid. The lower-ranked schools want to convince that same supply of applicants to attend their schools instead, and those students demand merit aid to forego HYS, so those schools have to use more merit aid. And it just gets worse the further down the rankings you go, as the endowments get smaller and the focus on improving rankings gets stronger.

To put this in perspective, I'm getting more grant money from Harvard than I did from the T14 I transferred to. I had legitimate financial need, but the T14 considered that need to be satisfied with loans and denied my appeal for more grant money. I presume they wanted to save their scholarship money to attract new students with strong numbers. I don't fault them for that at all, that's just how the game is played.

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ela7117
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Re: Need-Based Aid: Want Some?

Postby ela7117 » Wed Aug 18, 2010 1:42 pm

Vanwinkle, thanks so much for the detailed reply. You definietly helped clarify what to expect from need-based aid. I was under the impression it was primarily grants, but it appears I was mistaken.

Can you offer some advice as to the consequences of my asking for need-based consideration? If its loans anyway, I would prefer the more attractive rates.

I assume of course, if I don't select 'Yes', I can still submit FAFSA and get Stafford. I will need loans regardless of whether they think I'm officially 'needy'.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Need-Based Aid: Want Some?

Postby vanwinkle » Wed Aug 18, 2010 2:25 pm

Yeah, you should still qualify for federal loans either way; the main difference is how much paperwork you have to fill out. To qualify you for need-based aid, most top schools will require things like your parents' financial information (if you're 28 or younger), for example.

And don't get me wrong, there are still advantages to applying. If they're already considering you for merit aid they may be influenced by your need (since they love to at least claim that most aid is given on a "combined merit and need basis"), so it's still worth your while. It's just important to understand that merit has overtaken need as the main factor at most schools, especially with the assumption you can cover it all with loans anyway.




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