Top 5 Tips for Law School Scholarship Negotiation

Top 5 Tips for Law School Scholarship Negotiation

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Hi everyone, you’re watching Spivey
Consulting Law School Admissions YouTube Channel, and I’m Derek Meeker, a partner
at Spivey Consulting and former Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid for the
University of Pennsylvania Law School. Today we’re going to talk about the
basics of scholarship negotiation. The first thing I will say about scholarship
negotiation is it is about building relationships. If you take nothing else
away from this video today, I want you to remember that scholarship negotiation is
about building relationships. You’re not in an adversarial relationship with the
law school or with the admissions and financial aid office — you’re not going
into this process haggling as if you’re buying a used car or trying to get
funding for a border wall. You are making an investment in your future. You’re
looking at all of the offers you have on the table, doing your research of the law
schools, and considering based on your individual needs, your priorities,
personal, professional, and of course financial, what is going to be the best
law school for you. And if, after doing that thoughtful research, you’ve come to
the conclusion that a particular school is not offering you a financial package
that you think is fair or enough for you to commit to enrolling, then you reach
out to have a conversation with them. You reach out and ask what the protocol is
at their school for scholarship consideration or reconsideration as the
case may be, and you follow that protocol. Here’s the thing. If you’ve done your
research and you’ve shown the school that you are seriously interested in
attending, they’re going to be willing to sit down and talk with you about how
they can make your financial package better for you. So how do you go about
this? How do you go about building a relationship? Well the first thing is,
engage with the school. Go to their admitted student events, talk to students
at the school, talk to faculty, talk to alumni, go and visit,
sit down and meet with the admissions office. Spend time getting to know the
school and talking to the people who are part of the school. That shows them that
you are genuinely interested and that you are doing your research because you
want to make the best decision for you. This has to be more than just about the
bottom line amount that you are paying, it’s got to be about, what do you want
from your education? What’s important to you? What are your
professional goals, and how does that school fit into them? So by spending time
there and talking to the people that work there, that teach there, that attend
there, talking to them and asking them questions that are important to you, is
going to give you the information that you need to make the best financial
decision, the best investment for your future. So that’s the first thing: engage
with the school. The second thing is, in all of these engagements, in all of your
communications, whether you’re visiting in person or whether you’re talking to
them on the phone or whether you’re writing an email, you need to be gracious
and professional and humble, always. It doesn’t matter who you’re speaking to,
whether it’s the dean of the law school, or the receptionist at the admissions
office, or an undergraduate student intern, everyone is paying attention to
how you interact and how you communicate, and they will talk to each other, so you
want to make sure that you are being professional, mature, gracious, always
courteous in all of your communications. Tip number three, when it comes time to
actually make the ask, either for scholarship consideration or a
reconsideration of the amount that you’ve been awarded, you want to do so in
a thoughtful way. You want to be an effective self-advocate. It’s not just
about presenting offers from other schools — you want to show them how you
will add value to the community, why they should make an investment in
you. Talk about what your goals are and how the law school fits into that
picture. Show what you would be like as a student there. How will you get involved?
How will you contribute to student organizations or to clinics or to pro
bono projects? Your communications should essentially be, “here is what I’m asking
for, and here’s why I think I should get it, because based on these experiences
that I’ve had, based on my X years of work experience
or the leadership position I’ve held at a certain organization in my
undergraduate school, these things show the type of student that I’m going to be
at your law school. I’m gonna make that same commitment to you, I’m going to be
the same ambassador for your school that I’ve been for my company, or that I’ve
been for the student government at my college.”
Show them how you’re going to add value. And again, by doing that they’re going to
want to invest in you. They’re going to be more willing to to sit down and talk
to you about how they can make their financial package more attractive to you.
And as you’re approaching this process and engaging in these communications,
keep in mind that just because you received a scholarship of a certain
amount at one school that is similarly ranked to the one that you’re more
interested in, doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily going to offer you the same
amount. You also shouldn’t assume that because you’ve been admitted to a higher
ranked school that you should get a scholarship automatically from the lower
ranked school. Scholarship budgets, goals, priorities differ vastly across schools.
Some are obviously going to have a lot more money and flexibility than others
when it comes to awarding merit scholarships, some are going to be
looking at certain criteria in terms of soft factors that matter more to them.
Perhaps they’re going to be offering higher scholarship amounts to people
that come from a certain demographics. That may be the case at one school but
not necessarily so at another school. Schools also might think of
who their competitors and peer schools are differently than what you think they
are. So when you’re making the ask, focus not so much on arbitrary things such as
small differences in rankings or small differences in dollar amounts, but think
more in terms of what matters most to you and how that school fits into your
goals. Tip number four, when comparing law school offers, it’s not about the
scholarship amount, it’s about the total cost of attendance over the entire
three-year period. You want to be looking at what is the cost of tuition,
university fees, parking, transportation, health insurance, estimated cost of room
and board for that particular city. You want to be looking at what is the
average tuition increase from year to year at that school. There are all of
these other fees and factors involved that you have to consider because even
though you may be getting a higher scholarship at one school, when you look
at what the cost of living is there and look at all of these other fees that
that school may be charging, it could be considerably more expensive even with
the higher scholarship than another school. So you don’t want to just look at
the scholarship amount, and you don’t want that to be the only thing that you
rely on or present as part of the case that you’re making. When you’re asking
for reconsideration, you want to show them that you’ve done your homework, that
you are detail-oriented like a good future lawyer should be, and
that you are thoroughly comparing all of the complete costs. There are really
great resources out there — Law School Transparency is one that has great data
on what the total cost of attendance is at each law school and allows you to
compare law school costs. Also the law schools themselves should be providing
you the total cost of their student budget for the academic year. You can
often find that information on the school’s website, but if for some reason
it’s not there, then by all means ask them to
provide it to you. The earlier you have that information, of course, the more
informed you will be and the sooner that you can start making your decisions and
having these conversations. Tip number five, when comparing law school offers,
you want to look at placement statistics. That is essentially your return on
investment. Where are they placing their students, in
what type of jobs, what are the median starting salaries? Do they mirror what
your career goals are? Again there’s much more to this equation than just an
arbitrary rank, it’s much more important to look at what the outcomes are of that
school’s students, and for you to exercise some judgment in terms of what
constitutes a reasonable cost difference. Again, given what your individual goals
are, the places that you want to work, the types of the jobs that you are hoping to
get, you want to look at placement statistics over the last few years,
certainly the most recent ones but also look at the last couple of years to see
what the trends have been. And there are excellent resources out there for this.
The ABA has an employment placement report for every school on its website,
and I would actually use that as opposed to the school’s website because the ABA
is the official data and it’s all there, and again Law School Transparency has
excellent detailed data on career placement, starting salaries, bar passage
rate, geographic placement for each school so these are all great resources
that you can use in terms of looking at how schools compared to one another when
it comes to outcomes, again your return on investment. Alright, so let’s review
the basics of scholarship negotiation. By far the most important thing is
relationship building. Engage with the school, show them that you are interested,
be courteous and professional in all of your communications with them and
gracious and humble. Be an effective self-advocate. Show them why they should
invest in you how you will contribute and add value to the law school
community. Consider the total cost of attendance, not
just the scholarship amount. And, consider placement data carefully when comparing
offers. Thanks for watching! If you found this helpful, please like the video below
and subscribe to our law school admissions YouTube channel for future
advice on things like interviews and waitlists from former admissions
officers at schools such as Harvard, Columbia, Yale, and Vanderbilt. And as
always, if you’re interested in more personalized guidance, please reach out
to us for a free initial consultation at [email protected] Thank you.

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