It is no secret that law schools are expensive, both in terms of time and money. As admirable as the profession is, joining a law school requires considerable investment. The earlier you understand the costs, the better you can prepare for your college years.
As such, it is imperative that you know what resources are available at your disposal in order to decide how you are going to finance your legal education. Here are some options available for students to start building their law school careers.
1. Scholarships and Grants
The primary funding option available for law students is Scholarships and grants. These are accessible from the stage of the LSAT application. For instance, students who qualify for an LSAC waiver can benefit from the LSATMax Fee Waiver Scholarship and get free access to LSAT prep.
Law schools that offer scholarships provide them with terms that vary depending on the individual policies. The type of such grants would also determine the amount of aid as well as the duration.
That said, law school scholarships are highly coveted and require students to showcase impressive skills in academic or athletic areas. Most scholarships are need-based or merit-based. You can start by targeting schools that offer high0value scholarships.
2. Apply for Federal Student Aid
Federal Student Aid is a part of the U.S. Department of Education that serves as the largest student financial aid provider in the country.
Students can submit a free application in order to find out if they are eligible for federal grants or loans. This will give you access to Federal Direct Loans, Direct Graduate PLUS Loans, School-based aid, and State Aids.
However, bear in mind that the federal aid you could receive might not cover the entire COA of your prospective law school. Also, the Federal office determines your eligibility, and ultimately it is the school that determines whether you qualify for specific aid.
3. Private Student Loans
Yes, private student loans have acquired a bad reputation among students. But if you are unable to secure any other kind of financial aid, these loans can be your lifesaver. Such loans are available from most commercial banks and are offered on the basis of credit. A good credit score gives you better chances of getting a loan.
While choosing a private loan, you should also carefully consider the terms of repayment. For instance, if the current interest rates are low, it is best to lock it with a fixed-rate loan rather than a variable loan.
4. Opt for a Budget-Friendly School
Unquestionably, everyone wants to study in a top law school. However, that also means the costliest cost of attendance. If you want to avoid student debts, you might have to look for good schools that are friendlier for your budget. Colleges such as the University of California, University of Texas, Boston University, George State University are all excellent choices with moderate fees.
If you are looking for financial aid, make sure to review your application thoroughly with this regard in mind. Moreover, before you accept any scholarship, check that the terms and conditions of your support are favorable.
5. Build a Strong Resume for Law School
Your resume for law school is most likely going to the first contact with the admission council. It has to showcase not only your previous education but also your accomplishments as an individual. But most importantly, you have to tune it to your target audience – in this case, the admission officers.
Law School applicants tend to tick off every single extracurricular to boost their chances of obtaining a seat in law school. However, in this competitive world, it does not make you stand apart,
What would work is to be specific about what you have done. Instead of merely saying volunteer at an NGO, you can say, “helped ten students achieve better scores in their Science exam.
Legal Education and CoronaVirus: What are the Implications?
When the pandemic hit at the beginning of 2020, the schools and universities in the US had very little time to prepare. Fast forward to now, when we are nearing the end of the year, the landscape of legal education in the country is still very dubious.
With the COVID-19 cases rising exponentially in numbers, colleges continue to be hesitant to open their campuses to students.
If law schools were reluctant to embrace digital learning before, the pandemic left them with no choice. LSAT came up with their online versions, LSAT-FLEX, to administer tests remotely. Beginning the endeavor in May, until now, nearly 79,000 students have already completed their LSAT-FLEX assignments online. The tests will continue to be delivered online until April 2021, as of now.
When the pandemic started, colleges moved to completely e-learning technologies. Harvard moved all its 260 courses and clinical offerings within a window of 12 days. The school also announced that the fall semester would continue online, alongside focusing on providing a fully immersive learning environment.
Harvard faculty is evening considering virtual field trips to count earnings and other legal institutions. Virginia has some good law schools following Harvard’s path, such as the University of Virginia, in making a complete shift to the on-campus fall semester.
On the other hand, after the confusing spring semester, a majority of colleges went for a hybrid model for their fall semesters. There would be a mix of online and in-person classes. Yale is one of the prominent law schools that are welcoming only a portion of students for lectures on the campus. However, while colleges continue to reassure that they have everything under control, the students have a different version of the story.
While there have been reports of positive learning experiences through online lessons, a large percent of law students are ungratified with the situation. With the expenses involved in a law degree, students feel that they are not getting their money’s worth from online lessons. In the gist, the enrichment of learning from the classroom is missing.
Some students have even gone as far as planning to withhold tuition payments and demanding partial refunds. The pass/fail grading system did not receive applause either. Though schools recommended it to reduce stress, 63 percent of students opposed the idea to continue post-pandemic. What the fall semester brings to the table is yet to find out.
The Dilemma of Graduating
However, the predicament of the aspiring and enrolled students seems better compared to the class of 2020. Coronavirus has upended the career plans of law graduates.
Several states postponed their Bar exams, leaving students unemployed without a license. It took the Bar Association a considerable time to decide their stand on the exam this year. Amidst upheaval, a few states successfully conducted online bar exams, while others granted a license without tests.
A significant number of law graduates have also had their job offers withdrawn or delayed, that is, if they could find a job in the first place. The summer associates have also had difficulty getting through to their jobs or gaining sufficient experience working from homes.
For the time being, law schools and firms nationwide are encouraging students to put their health first. The degree of unpredictability concerning the future is still relatively high, the economic slowdown only weakening the possibilities. However, it might also make way for more innovative approaches to practicing law and imparting legal education.
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