Looking for scholarships for law school? Nicole Bonito, Assistant Director of Financial Aid at New England Law | Boston, is here to help! Keep reading for her expert tips for finding and winning law school scholarships.
Law school is expensive. Scholarships help—a lot.
While most law schools will dole out institutional scholarships, there are plenty of outside third-party scholarships to be had too.
Here’s how to find and win those precious and often quite generous awards.
Search for scholarships. Period.
Contrary to what some might think, there really are outside scholarships for law students. True, there aren’t quite as many as for undergrads. But they’re out there; you just have to look for them!
“Search for scholarships. Search for scholarships everywhere,” says Nicole Bonito, Assistant Director of Financial Aid at New England Law | Boston. Some of her top spots to look for outside scholarships for law students include:
- ABA Law Student Division Events and Competitions directory (“There's a zillion of them,” Bonito says. “I feel like it's an untapped resource.”)
- MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) Scholarship Resource Guide
- Scholarship search engines, like Scholarships.com, Finaid.org, Fastweb, Student Scholarship Search, and Peterson’s*
- Legal entities, like law firms and professional organizations, which may offer their own scholarships for law students
- Local organizations, like your town’s VFW, Lion’s Club, or synagogue, mosque, or church
* When it comes to using those popular scholarship search engines, Bonito reminds law students that many of the awards are open to all graduate students, making them more competitive. Which brings us to our next point…
Narrow your search
While you should certainly apply to any scholarships you’re eligible for, including the big-name national awards open to all grad students, it’s important to look for scholarships specifically for law students—and your area of law in particular.
There are scholarships out there for every legal interest: intellectual property, public interest law, compliance, etc. There are also law school scholarships for students from particular backgrounds, like scholarships for multicultural law students or alumni of a certain undergraduate institution.
It may help to start your scholarship search by making a brainstormed list of all the characteristics, accomplishments, hobbies, and other things that make you, well, you. Then use this as a hitlist when searching for outside scholarships for law school.
Pay attention to the application requirements
Really dig into the application requirements to make sure you qualify for a scholarship. You don’t want to waste time applying for an award you can’t win—but you also don’t want to miss an opportunity that might apply to you.
If you’re not sure if you qualify for a given scholarship, simply contact the awarding organization directly to ask.
Reuse your scholarship essays when you can
While you should tailor your essay to each individual scholarship you’re applying to, and application requirements will vary, you can often save time and brain power by reusing your scholarship essay.
“Most of the time [scholarship providers] just want a statement from you and your transcript,” Bonito says. Making a few light edits to your scholarship application essay will often do the trick.
Don’t fall for scholarship scams
You’re smart—you’re going to law school, after all. But even savvy searchers can get taken in by scholarship scams. So it’s important to be wary of red flags.
First things first: you should never have to pay money to apply for a scholarship. “Guaranteed” third-party scholarships aren’t really a thing either.
If something just feels fishy about an outside scholarship—for example, they’re asking for an excessive amount of personal information—do your due diligence. This might include researching the scholarship provider, looking up past winners, and seeing if any law schools advertise the scholarship on their website.
At the end of the day, if a scholarship provider just doesn't seem reputable, trust your gut and look elsewhere.
Focus on the big picture
After all the time and effort it takes to find and apply to law schools, diving into the scholarship search and application process can feel overwhelming. But it’s worth it.
“There's so many little opportunities to just make $1,000 here or there,” Bonito says. Those awards might seem paltry compared to the cost of a law degree, but they really do add up.
Yes, scholarship applications take time and effort, but the return on investment can be big. “If it’s a 500-word essay and it’ll get you a $1,000 scholarship, that's pretty minimal effort to get something,” Bonito says. (And remember, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel with your scholarship essays!)
Go after scholarships with the same tenacity as your law school education, and you’re sure to succeed.
Ready for find (and win!) outside scholarships for your law school education? You might also be interested in these scholarships available to New England Law | Boston incoming students.