I love that this was posted. It's awesome information for applicants. But it needs dissecting, especially for those of us who are not T14 bound.
First, let's highlight what Dean Lee did NOT say. He did not say that if you try to negotiate your scholarship that he would laugh at you and take away your acceptance. From the tone of so many posts here I feel like it's important to keep reiterating this. Unless you lie to the school
, attempting to negotiate your financial aid package will never, ever, ever result in your offer being rescinded.
The scholarship process as of right now and re-opening the award process.
The bulk of our scholarship offers were released this past week. We are also continuing to fully consider all admits (regular/hold/waitlist) for aid, providing all the deadlines are met.
The release of offers also brings another rite of the admissions process, "scholarship negotiations."
A big problem with these "negotiations" is that they are usually approached from the wrong perspective. Last year, we received about 255 aid appeals. A majority of these appeals were written identically, as if there was a template out on the Internet. If you do decide to walk down this road, here are my tips so that your request will be reviewed in the best possible light.
On the one hand, it's hard to make a 5-7 sentence email really stand out. On the other hand, this comment shows that it's certainly worth your time to try. Mention specific attributes of the school you're interested in. And do not copy-and-paste the sample letters from the content competition thread. Srsly.
YMMV- these tips are my opinion for NU only:
What this means for us is that these tips are from a Dean who can make a reasonable case for the sticker price of his school while keeping a straight face.
1. Don't call it a "scholarship negotiation"?
We are not a dealership and I'm not going to comp mudflaps. If you wish for us to "re-examine your financial aid package" or you wish to "appeal your financial aid package," we are open to taking that request. It may just be semantics, but it goes a long way.
This is very true. We can call it negotiating but in all of your conversations with schools it should be strictly "availability of additional merit aid," "re-examining your financial aid package," or something involving your personal ability to attend the school in question. Silly? Maybe. But Deans control the negotiation and they do not want to be treated like car salesmen. Legit at the NU level, dubious laTTTer down the list.
2. Chicago can be expensive
3. Your tuition is expensive
4. Your cost of living is so high
I know how much it costs to live in Chicago. I know what our tuition will be next year. I also know how much it costs to live in a "college town" versus a city. Understood, I get it. This is low hanging fruit with very minimal persuasive value. No need to write about it.
We'll ignore 2 and 4. But 3 is the single biggest factor for the negotiating student.
Tuition at almost every school is so high that it will result in student loan debt that is not serviceable at the employment outcomes probable for the average student. I consider it quite polite that incoming students haven't taken to explicitly mentioning the 50/50 shot at a JD required job or the non-existent possibility of big law offered by most schools. I think "I've seen your NALP report and your tuition is a scam, let's talk about how we can adjust this aid package so I don't ruin my life" might not be the best opener, but it is true for most schools.
Ability to service law school debt is the only thing you should be thinking about in negotiations. And that means paying as little as possible. Period. If you're here on TLS you already know all of this so I'll restate briefly. If you have decided that you want to be a lawyer (in order to practice law, no boomer versatility shit here) you need to do everything in your power to leverage your numbers to pay as little as possible for law school. Until law schools stop thinking that they are special academic snowflakes rather than trade schools (and lower tuition accordingly), cost should be the most important factor in your application cycle.
Unless you get a full-ride offer right out of the gate, you will need to negotiate with the schools that admit you.
5. All offers not created equal
It is very tempting to send us all your awards. If you decide to send an award, it should be the "best" award. The one you are most likely to accept. At max, send 2 awards for our consideration.
This is fair and I think all of the advice in this thread reflects this position. Only try to leverage awards from peer schools. You can, however, use the seat deposit dates of lower-ranked schools to which you have applied to ask for more time to make your decision. I'd like to see LSAC demand that schools standardize seat deposit dates and scholarship award notification timelines for on-time applicants. But, as it stands, schools have different dates and you should not be expected to make a decision with incomplete information.
6. Is there is a personal reason for attending NU
Significant other, specific education opportunity, special relatives, something I can't even conceive?
I'm having a hard time imagining a cycle where this hasn't been brought up earlier in the process but feel free to reiterate your reasons during the negotiation process.
7. Only engage us if you are very serious about attending.
I can't stress this enough. No appeal will be dismissed pro forma. However, I want people who want to be at Northwestern. Please don't use this as a phishing expedition.
This is where Dean Lee and I have differing opinions. He's wrong and I'm right. Ignore number 7. You've paid an application fee (or not) and jumped through some serious hoops to get to the point of negotiating scholarships. Email everyone. Email them twice! How clogged up a Dean's inbox looks in the morning is NOT YOUR PROBLEM. Phish away my friends. I don't recommend lying about your intentions (don't use the phrases 'first choice' or 'will attend if' unless you mean them), but you are absolutely entitled to ask for anything you want. And Deans are entitled to shoot you a standard response of 'no' back. Number 7 is pure snark that Dean Lee can get away with because NU is a T14 school.
There's always a chance that a school you're less than enthused about attending will answer your email and give you a solid scholarship increase. This is now great leverage to go and ask a school you want to attend for more money. You're negotiating and this is how it works. You're not stealing money from anyone or doing anything unscrupulous (but seriously, don't lie to schools).
8. Chances of success
Earlier, I mentioned the 255 recorded appeals last year. Of those appeals, only 15% were successful. Those who were not initially receiving an award were successful 17% of the time. Those already receiving an award were successful 8% of the time.
Using the ABA data on LSAC
Northwestern offered admission to 864 people. It's mind-boggling that only around 30% of them tried to negotiate. Clearly TLS has work to do.