Financial Aid - Summary and Maximizing Scholarships

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Ken
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Financial Aid - Summary and Maximizing Scholarships

Postby Ken » Tue May 16, 2006 1:56 am

The following is an excellent summary of learning about and securing financial aid for law school. This summary was contributed by one of our very own readers, Piggylola. She managed to leverage her financial contributions from one top law school as bargaining chips to get other top law schools to match. An excellent article, thanks Piggylola.

Financial Aid

There are two kinds of financial aid available to law students.

1) Merit-based Aid

This aid is basically scholarship in another word. There is no separate application required for the aid; the school will pick you and notify you they awarded you of any aid. There are named scholarships, which are considered pretty prestigious (can put them on your resume), such as the Levy from Penn (2/3 tuition with a mentor), Darrow from Michigan (full with stipend), Hamilton (full tuition) from Columbia, and Dean’s Scholar (full tuition with a mentor) from Georgetown. And there are smaller scholarships (usually resulting in partial aid) that are usually called dean’s scholarships, or dean’s merit scholarships.

2) Need-based Aid

*I believe that this is largely limited to those with U.S. citizenships and residencies. I am not sure if they apply to international students. Nonetheless, I’ve heard that schools have different policies for their need-based aid regarding international students. You should contact the school’s financial aid office directly and ask about their policies regarding international students.


This form of aid does require separate form of application. You will have to fill out something called FAFSA (FREE Application for Federal Student Aid Web Site) first. It is available from January 1st of each year. Books I’ve consulted recommended of completing this ASAP after January 1st. I completed the form sometime in late January. You cannot fill FAFSA unless you have U.S. citizenship or residency (green card). http://www.fafsa.ed.gov


You will need the U.S. tax return & W2s of the previous year / if you have not filed your return yet, you should have approximate numbers for your income.For those individuals who has made something like (*I am not sure on exact dollar amount, only giving you the approximate, please conduct your own research for the exact amount, as I am not responsible for getting the exact numbers wrong) 7000 dollars or less if you are single or 10,000 or less if you are married, you are not required to file a tax return under current tax laws.


It’s a mundane process, but once you get a hang of it (I did this every year for my undergraduate financial aid) it’s not that bad. You will have to fill out some stuff regarding your income, and you will have to list the schools that will get your SAR (Student Aid Report in short I think), which is basically a summary of your financial data.


There is one annoying thing about FAFSA if you are applying to more than 5 schools. It only lets you pick up to 5 schools. So what you will have to do is list your first five, wait for your SAR to be generated (usually takes a few days), and re-submit your FAFSA with another list of 5. Basically, you will have 3 or 4 different SARs on your FAFSA page after you do this, depending on how many schools you put on your list.


Life would be pretty rosy if FAFSA was the only required document. But in most cases, schools require more. The only schools that require only FAFSA, and some kind of one-page institutional sheet are (in T15): Berkeley, Northwestern, and Virginia.All other schools require you to submit this thing called “need-access.” I personally found this REALLY COMPLICATED AND ANNOYING. It requires you to guesstimate all kinds of numbers and incomes and future incomes and expenses and all that. Like FAFSA, you can use your approximate figures to fill this out. However, I strongly recommend filling out need-access after you are done with your tax returns because it’s really complicated to go back and fix data, unlike FAFSA.


http://www.needaccess.org/


Normally, graduate students are considered independent, meaning that parental contributions won’t be considered in their expected contribution to their educational expenses. However, law schools use slightly different approaches (except Berkeley, Virginia, and Northwestern) and assume that parental contributions will be counted (weather your parents do pay for them or not). They require that parental income information is to be included in the needaccess. So you will need their tax returns as well.After receiving your FAFSA, NeedAccess forms, and/or institutional sheet – schools give you need-based grants. You can max out your Federal Loan up to $18,500 a year.

Depending on your need, the subsidized and the un-subsidized portion will be divided. $8,500 a year is the maximum amount for subsidized loan. And the remaining $10,000 will be un-subsidized. Subsidized Loan means that the Federal government will pay for your interest while you are in school (the current interest rate is something like 6.85% - once again, please don’t kill if I am wrong on exact numbers).


This subsidizing-act will continue until you finish school + 6 months out. On the other hand, un-subsidized portion will accrue interest while you are in school. Both portions of loans will not have to be paid back until you graduate + 6 month out.


$18,500 probably won’t even cover half the tuition at most schools. You will have to get more loans out through commercial sources for the remaining budget.


There seems to be a new governmental loan called GRADPLUS. This might substitute commercial loan from now on. I heard it’s a new change that was enacted by the congress for the first time in 15 years regarding governmental loans for grad students. It’s fairly new and will be used by some schools for the academic year of 06-07. (Georgetown will be using them, Northwestern and Berkeley weren’t sure about using them from 06-07 – after talking to financial aid people at each schools)I am fuzzy on exact details. But it’s a fixed rate of 8.5% or something. And you can cover the remaining portion of the budget with Gradplus. You can still go with the route of commercial loans. But the interest rate is variable and you might get higher interest rate if your credit is poor. So shop around and pick the best loan for your self.

Negotiating for Aid


I got the below information from Mr. Solana, a UCLA Law Alum, who's a practicing attorney in California. I've acquired his permission to use this. I will share my personal experiences of securing for aid below.



---------------------------------------------------------------------

(much gratitude to him for letting me post this information)



I. No Room for the Timid


In order to maximize your financial aid award, you first have to get over your fear of asking for extra money. Trust me, there is not one financial aid officer in the world that will call you randomly and ask you "are you satisfied with your award? Do you want more money?" Also, you will not upset the admissions and financial aid folks by asking for more money IF YOU DO IT IN A COURTEOUS, ALBIET STERN, AND PROFESSIONAL MANNER.


II. Multiple-Officers


If you have multiple officers of admittance, make sure to inform the school that has offered you less money about the other schools' offer. At the very least, ask them if they are willing to match or even exceed the award. This applies even if the school that is offering you less money has a lower "rank" than the other school. I have worked with tons of people who got a full scholarship from a "third tier" school and a "first tier" school matched the offer. Again - there is a very common saying in Spanish: "El que no habla, dios no lo oye" - "One who does not speak is not heard by God." Now, the law school administrators are not God, far from it - but they have the purse strings and you have to have the courage to ask for extra money.


III. One-Offer


Say you only get into one school and they don't give you any money, what should you do? Again, you don't have to confess or come clean that you don't have any competing offers. NOW, AT THE SAME TIME DO NOT LIE!!!Just simply state that you are excited about the opportunity of attending their school, but are hesitant of committing to them because of their financial aid offier. Then talk to them about your circumstances, etc. This will hopefully result in a bump in your award.Overall, just know that getting a full ride to law school if a very rare occurrence. What you want to do is maximize the free money so you reduce your loan debt.

IV. Locking In Grants for Three Years

Some law schools are notorious for offering very generous offers in order to entice students to attend their schools. You need to make sure, however, that these awards are locked in for the full three years you will be in school. Also, many awards have GPA requirements. Just make sure to ask what conditions, if any, the awards have.Okay folks, I hope this helps.

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My personal experience



My list of financial aid offers in t14 included:


Georgetown: full tuition scholarship

Upenn: 61,000

UVa: 63,000

Northwestern: 90,000


Out of these: UVa, Northwestern, and Georgetown's awards had no personal efforts of me pursuing for the aid. Northwestern notified me of the award (some named scholarship.. Vigil B Day? I don't remember) in Feb. UVa's offer came in March. Georgetown's offer(Dean's Scholar) was made to me personally when I went to visit them for admit day. I am still wondering if I made a stupid mistake of letting the full ride go last friday.. Anyway, I wonder if my full ride from gtown had anything to do with this admissions officer named Caryn. I met her during the Georgetown admitted students reception in Korea. I gave her a little instruction of "touring hot-spots in Seoul in one day" and kept in touch with her after she was back in DC(sent up a follow email asking if everything went okayand etc).


When I arrived in DC and went to Gtown for their admit event, I went to say Hello to the dean of Admissions. I introduced myself and he gave me the good news of the full scholarship, and said "Caryn mentioned that she met you in Korea."


Anyway, enough of my anecdotes and speculations.


I secured Penn's offer by using UVa's offer as the leverage. I found out that Northwestern's offer does not hold much leverage at schools because they are known for "throwing money and buying students." Boalt has a (very weird) matching program. It considers(meaning it's not automatic, and the selection process is pretty competetive or whatsoever..) all other offers from t14s except Northwestern's.


Penn kind of sneered at Northwestern's offer, but they took UVa's offer very seriously. They are considered peer schools and supposedly UVa steals a lot of Penn admittees, according to the admissions dean. I talked to him for a couple minutes, gave him the copy of the award letter from UVa, and a week later, I got a comparable financial aid package from Penn. If you were to do this, make sure that you mention that School XX is your favorite choice due to X and Y reasons, but financial barrier is the only thing that's keeping away from attending the XX school. And show the offers from other comparable schools. You will have to be convincing when you cite the reasons. For me, attending the admit day was a good back-up proof that I was immensely interested in coming. I gave the reasons of: After attending Penn's admitted student's event during those two days,I was definitely impressed. The class environment, impressive mock criminal law class offered by Professor Morse, and the strength of the APALSA community solidified my desire to attend.


Oh, and when you talk, SMILE. SMILE ALOT.


The books I read recommended that I attend admit days, or visit the schools at least individually to exhibit "strong interest" in the school. They said that I should set up a personal meeting with the dean of admissions and try negotiating with them regarding financial aid offers. And that's what I did.


I don't think it quite worked well at Berkeley, as they denied the matching (due to the lack of funding issue or whatsoever).


Just a few speculations of why I got so much $$(especially compared to my numbers, which are not all that great) from Virginia: Seeing on LSN, 170/3.75+ people got much less money offer than I did. I am thinking maybe they offered a lot of money because Asians are really rare in UVa law and they want to increase racial diversity. Or maybe because the admissions dean is Asian? (some kinda bias maybe)


In turn, Berkeley denied the match because there is already a plethora of Asians, especially Asian Women, at Berkeley, I think.


But hell. I don't know. =) Just a bunch of speculations.


I personally went all the way to the states to see the schools, but for the sake of negotiaitng for financial aid deals, I think it could've been done over the phone. Nonetheless, all the admissions people LOVED it whenever I introduced myself as "coming from all the way from Korea." It probably showed a little stronger interest for the school I believe.


One thing: Admissions offices at law schools are extremeley small. There are only few people working there(checked them out when I visited each schools). Don't be rude to any admissions staff. The word passes pretty quick.


Oh and I thought this was rather interesting: the admissions dean at Virginia personally carries the letters to be mailed out to the mailroom. He walked me out while he was on his way there. He had this box that had hundreds of mails, ready to be sent out.

Another advice: attend these "receptions, events, dinners, admit events" if you can. If the holdings conducted in smaller sizes, you have the chance for personal interactions with admissions staff(for financial aid purposes) or deans. The personal interactions(in much casual setting) really do matter because they remember you. And you build a sort of personal relationship with them.

Or as an alternative choice, you can score something like 175 and secure money more easily, as schools really are numbers whores. =) I personally could not do that and had to do everything else to get more $.

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gypsy
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Beginning Negotiations

Postby gypsy » Tue Feb 27, 2007 12:02 am

In your opinion, what is the best way to begin negotiations? I received $20k / year scholarships from 2 different schools, but I'd prefer to go to a higher ranked school where no money has been offered simply because it's a better school. Should I start with an email or a phone call? An in-person meetig isn't going to work for me since I live in California and the school I want to negotiate with is in Colorado. What do you recommend? Also, who would be the best person to contact? Thanks for your help!

hobbla
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Postby hobbla » Tue Feb 27, 2007 1:29 am

for my first two years of law school I could be considered a dependent of my parents as I will be under 23 and probably won't be making any money.

If they don't label me as a dependent, would I stand a better chance (or any chance?) of getting any need based aid.

Unfortunately as long as I am a dependent I stand no chance of getting need-based aid because although my parents are by no means rich, they make too much for fafsa to even consider us.

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Slash2049
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Postby Slash2049 » Tue Feb 27, 2007 1:37 am

Now I hear people always saying that though they're not rich they make enough where FASFA won't consider them.

While I know that just because people make money doesn't mean they can spend it or give it to their kids.

But if your parents make enough that you won't get any need based love, what do you call yourself?

I would say I'm from a middle class family, and FASFA gives me all kinds of love

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FloridaGirl
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Postby FloridaGirl » Tue Feb 27, 2007 2:54 am

But if your parents make enough that you won't get any need based love, what do you call yourself?



Middle class, although being the eldest in a family of seven may have something to do with it. Well, that and thinking my parents should have something left for their retirement. :wink:

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JazzeeT
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Postby JazzeeT » Tue Feb 27, 2007 3:21 am

so its completely kosher to ask schools that have not yet given me financial aid packages to consider other schools packages when making their decision on me?

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Corsair
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Postby Corsair » Tue Feb 27, 2007 3:25 am

..

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JazzeeT
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Postby JazzeeT » Tue Feb 27, 2007 4:19 am

great!

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katespade
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Postby katespade » Tue Feb 27, 2007 9:15 pm

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Last edited by katespade on Wed May 09, 2007 1:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

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katespade
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Postby katespade » Wed Feb 28, 2007 2:31 pm

...
Last edited by katespade on Wed May 09, 2007 1:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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katespade
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Postby katespade » Wed Feb 28, 2007 2:35 pm

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Last edited by katespade on Wed May 09, 2007 1:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

purespeed
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Postby purespeed » Wed Mar 07, 2007 2:21 am

Quick question: it is OK to begin negotiations by sending them a (typed) letter, right? I think e-mail is too informal and impersonal, and there's no way I would be comfortable negotiating over the phone :P

Also, would I address the letter to the Dean of Admissions, or is there a separate financial aid head I would address it to? What is the latter called? (Dean of Financial Aid?)

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jcfcporto
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Re: Financial Aid - Summary and Maximizing Scholarships

Postby jcfcporto » Mon Jan 26, 2009 2:08 pm

bump

udlordly
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Re: Financial Aid - Summary and Maximizing Scholarships

Postby udlordly » Mon Jan 26, 2009 2:13 pm

interesting, thanks.

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YCrevolution
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Re: Financial Aid - Summary and Maximizing Scholarships

Postby YCrevolution » Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:31 pm

..

google
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Re: Financial Aid - Summary and Maximizing Scholarships

Postby google » Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:35 pm

Good article, but I feel like the other articles you posted recently are better written with more information.

:)

dlindqui
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Re: Financial Aid - Summary and Maximizing Scholarships

Postby dlindqui » Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:51 pm

...
Last edited by dlindqui on Fri Feb 05, 2010 12:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

green
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Re:

Postby green » Wed Feb 11, 2009 7:13 pm

purespeed wrote:Quick question: it is OK to begin negotiations by sending them a (typed) letter, right? I think e-mail is too informal and impersonal, and there's no way I would be comfortable negotiating over the phone :P

Also, would I address the letter to the Dean of Admissions, or is there a separate financial aid head I would address it to? What is the latter called? (Dean of Financial Aid?)


I'm interested in this too.

huckabees
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Re: Financial Aid - Summary and Maximizing Scholarships

Postby huckabees » Wed Feb 11, 2009 8:52 pm

Great thread! I'm interested in those questions as well...

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rytagg
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Re: Financial Aid - Summary and Maximizing Scholarships

Postby rytagg » Fri Feb 13, 2009 4:50 pm

Well I got a full ride from Wake Forest and I was wondering if Wake is notable enough (I think its ranked 40ish) to help me get money from schools like UVA, Duke, Georgetown, etc.

Your thoughts?

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MidwestJosh
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Re: Financial Aid - Summary and Maximizing Scholarships

Postby MidwestJosh » Fri Feb 13, 2009 4:50 pm

rytagg wrote:Well I got a full ride from Wake Forest and I was wondering if Wake is notable enough (I think its ranked 40ish) to help me get money from schools like UVA, Duke, Georgetown, etc.

Your thoughts?


nope

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rytagg
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Re: Financial Aid - Summary and Maximizing Scholarships

Postby rytagg » Fri Feb 13, 2009 4:58 pm

ouch. Well here's a second question: I got 18k a year from Duke and 12k from Chicago but haven't heard back yet from UVA. Do you think that these two grant awards will be useful for UVA? Which, if either, should I emphasize more?

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MidwestJosh
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Re: Financial Aid - Summary and Maximizing Scholarships

Postby MidwestJosh » Fri Feb 13, 2009 4:59 pm

rytagg wrote:ouch. Well here's a second question: I got 18k a year from Duke and 12k from Chicago but haven't heard back yet from UVA. Do you think that these two grant awards will be useful for UVA? Which, if either, should I emphasize more?


Both, but Chicago would prob. def. help.

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FunkyJD
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Re: Financial Aid - Summary and Maximizing Scholarships

Postby FunkyJD » Tue Feb 02, 2010 12:17 am

Ken wrote:The following is an excellent summary of learning about and securing financial aid for law school. This summary was contributed by one of our very own readers, Piggylola. She managed to leverage her financial contributions from one top law school as bargaining chips to get other top law schools to match. An excellent article, thanks Piggylola. ....

There is one annoying thing about FAFSA if you are applying to more than 5 schools. It only lets you pick up to 5 schools. So what you will have to do is list your first five, wait for your SAR to be generated (usually takes a few days), and re-submit your FAFSA with another list of 5. Basically, you will have 3 or 4 different SARs on your FAFSA page after you do this, depending on how many schools you put on your list.


Actually, you can list up to 10 schools at a time on a FAFSA -- at least has been my experience. I've applied to more than 10 schools.

yeff
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Re: Financial Aid - Summary and Maximizing Scholarships

Postby yeff » Tue Feb 02, 2010 12:36 am

FunkyJD wrote:
Ken wrote:The following is an excellent summary of learning about and securing financial aid for law school. This summary was contributed by one of our very own readers, Piggylola. She managed to leverage her financial contributions from one top law school as bargaining chips to get other top law schools to match. An excellent article, thanks Piggylola. ....

There is one annoying thing about FAFSA if you are applying to more than 5 schools. It only lets you pick up to 5 schools. So what you will have to do is list your first five, wait for your SAR to be generated (usually takes a few days), and re-submit your FAFSA with another list of 5. Basically, you will have 3 or 4 different SARs on your FAFSA page after you do this, depending on how many schools you put on your list.


Actually, you can list up to 10 schools at a time on a FAFSA -- at least has been my experience. I've applied to more than 10 schools.


Yep. This is a ~3.5 year old thread.




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