(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
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I think this post by Jay Shively at Wake Forest may give you some insight.
WakeLawAdmDean wrote:Greetings TLSers~
As promised some thoughts on Scholarship Negotiation...
In regard to adjusting scholarship awards there are some truths you should know and some very straightforward policies I adhere to in my consideration. As a general rule we don't increase awards. We spend a great deal of time establishing an effective and appropriate scholarship strategy to meet our institutional goals and while I understand each applicant views this through their own lens and for their own individual benefit, I am focused on the big picture. Keep this in mind as you communicate with schools about scholarships, especially if you are asking for an increase.
It's important for applicants to know that at any given time we have many multiples of our scholarship budget out in offers. So, if your roommate withdraws it doesn't mean his $20,000 scholarship is up for grabs and available to be awarded. Part of the analysis we do in determining yields is to determine what we can award and still stay in budget. We might at any given time have ten times our budget out in offers. So even though we know we're the perfect school for many of you, we're counting on the fact that some of you are going to decide your educational goals will be better met at another institution.
In terms of our policies applicants should know that we won't engage in hypothetical negotiation of scholarship packages. If you are going to ask a school to increase your award, get ready to be specific. Be prepared to provide copies of letters of admission and scholarship offers from whatever other schools you think might be impactful in the consideration process. Schools generally are not willing to adjust their awards for schools they don't consider to be peer institutions. If an otherwise great school with a reputation we consider to be less than ours offers you a full ride, it's unlikely that we'll adjust our award in response to that offer. It's possible, but unlikely. I won't be offended if you make the case, but I hope you won't be offended if I respond in the negative to your request.
Despite our policy regarding lesser regarded schools at the end of the day it's impossible to put a value on something like rank or location. There are too many factors which impact whether a particular school, regardless of rank, will increase your chances of long term success that we leave that valuation to you. Our scholarship process can't account for your getting into a school 10 or 12 or 6 or 20 spots higher than us on the US News ranking. We also can't account for whether living in LA or Boston will improve your chances of landing the job you want. The fact is lawyers from Wake are successful at all levels in all kinds of jobs in legal markets all across the country. We think our community is right for many students and our history supports that belief.
Do your homework. As you make the case for a scholarship increase, make sure you do some basic analysis of your own and prepare a convincing case. Be sure to compare total cost of attendance at the schools you present as alternatives. If you tell me you got $60,000 more in scholarship money to go to a school in NYC or DC, make sure you've accounted for the increased cost of living in those cities. Among the many benefits of being in a smaller legal market Wake Law and Winston Salem offer a very reasonable cost of living which positively impacts your overall budget for law school and may seriously offset a somewhat higher scholarship award at another school. But you should also know that it’s difficult for us to justify making scholarship increases because of personal situations like living with relatives (which never works out for all three years of law school by the way).
We avoid engaging in negotiation of scholarships with students who haven't taken the time to consider where they want to be based on factors other than rank or location. If you haven't visited my school or at least spent time talking with my office, our students, faculty, or alumni, I can't take your interest for scholarship purposes seriously. What's your connection to Wake if you've never been here? I've found it historically unproductive to engage in the discussion of scholarship adjustment with students who haven't narrowed down their options to include Wake Law in at worst their top two or three schools. Thus, to discuss in January adjusting scholarships when candidates haven't even received the bulk of their decisions doesn't seem wise.
Be prepared to commit. More often than not if I decide to offer an adjustment to a scholarship award it will be conditioned on the candidate accepting the offer by withdrawing other offers of admission. (Beginning in June most schools have lists of students by name who have seat deposits at multiple schools. So, we'll know whether candidates honor their commitment to withdraw in these cases.)
Be nice. No applicant is entitled to a scholarship. If a school, no matter how they rank, is offering you money, be grateful and gracious. Schools aren’t trying to patronize or offend anyone with a scholarship offer. Many of you have a range of options. An offer of admission in this volatile and competitive market should be viewed as an honor. Any adjustments I have made in the past were for folks who handled the topic appropriately. Still sometimes schools do make mistakes and if you receive a scholarship significantly lower than you expected, I encourage you to go through the trouble of providing all the information we might need to make an adjustment. Please do so in the right spirit and only if the offer is going to make a difference.
The ideal candidate for a scholarship adjustment has taken the time to get to know Wake by visiting campus and engaging in the opportunities we provide to understand what makes us unique. That candidate has narrowed us down to their top choices and can convincingly show that but for financial considerations they would choose Wake Law. They've done so by providing copies of their other offer letters, including scholarship offers and terms for renewal. We'll have already communicated to discuss their interest in Wake Law. The ideal candidate for a scholarship adjustment and the one with the best chance of receiving a positive outcome will also have shown serious contemplation of their choice and a readiness to withdraw other applications if Wake is able to adjust their scholarship to a financially acceptable level. For these reasons it would be rare for any adjustment to occur before a campus visit or open house dates have passed.
Our goal based on the information we have and our institutional directives, is to make a financially reasonable, even an attractive offer from the outset to avoid a need for further negotiation. We’re not hiding the ball or trying to get off cheap. Our offers are well considered and based on years of analysis.
I hope this has been helpful I realize it is somewhat rambling. I’ve been very focused on reading files but I wanted to at least provide some thoughts on the process so that you could ask questions. These thoughts while not reflective of scholarship policies at all schools are relevant to the question at most schools. Please feel free to send follow up questions to me via email or PM and I’ll post a follow up response to clarify anything glaring, if necessary.
Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid
Wake Forest University | School of Law
(336) 758-5705 direct
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