How to Negotiate Scholarship Offers (Part 2)

hurdlersSo many of you wrote in comments and questions in response to my post on how to negotiate scholarship offers, that I felt compelled to write a part two.

First, thanks to everyone who wrote in with their specific scholarship negotiation situation. By writing about your personal situation, and being willing to receive feedback and advice, you gave my current and future blog readers a chance to learn from your experiences.

Second, I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, you must advocate for yourself before you advocate for others. If you want to become a lawyer, start acting like one now. Starting with the first day that you begin your law school application process, carry yourself with respect, work hard, and do not settle for less than what you deserve. It’s not over after you get admitted. You need to think hard and work hard to make sure that you choose the right school with as many resources (aka. money, moula, mean green, etc.) as possible.

Third, always remember, you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.

On that note, I want to share with you the scholarship negotiation situation posted by Missy. Missy was the first person to comment on my scholarship post.

Here’s what she first posted.

What about negotiating with an unranked school? I’m a mom so I can’t take on debt and need to be part time. I work near a law school so I hoped to work part time and go to school part time. I’ve gotten a few full or close to full rides from ranked schools but the part time day time program at the Unranked school near me offered me barely anything!!! Are Unranked schools just stingy because they have less money? How would you go about negotiations?

Here’s my advice to her.

Thanks for writing in, Missy. That’s great that you’ve received full or close-to-full ride scholarships at several ranked law schools. Congratulations!

I don’t know why the unranked law school that admitted you did not give you a scholarship. That’s a shame. Still, you can do something about it. I would call them and let them know about the scholarships you’ve received at your other schools. See my article above for tips on this.

If the unranked school doesn’t offer you a good scholarship, I would consider the law school where you can attend and graduate with the LEAST amount of debt (for example, sometimes the biggest scholarship isn’t the best buy if it’s going to cost more to live in that city/area).

And Missy’s response back…

…Yes I don’t want to take on anymore debt. I am still paying off undergrad. I scheduled a meeting to meet with someone at the financial aid department of the school I am hoping to go to…would you suggest I bring proof of the other scholarships? Or wait until asked for it? Thanks for the quick response!

My response back…

I’m glad you’re set on not taking on more debt, Missy. I wish more people had your mindset. Debt makes things very difficult–especially when you’re trying to find a job during your 3rd year. When you’re saddled with debt, you don’t always make the best career choices.

That’s great you’re meeting with a financial aid officer at the law school you want to attend. Sure, bring proof of your other scholarships. You don’t need to show them to the officer, just mention them during your conversation. If he/she asks for them, then pull them out of your bag. Good luck with your meeting!

And here’s how things went with Missy’s meeting.

By the way thank you for all your tips. After meeting with the school I just got word that they are granting me a full ride! I can’t express how grateful I am to have found this post!

Yes, you read that right. Missy negotiated a full-ride scholarship to law school.

And here’s some great advice that Missy gave to another reader who wrote in.

And Yoya, I have a 2.5 undergrad and got into T14 schools with scholarships because of my LSAT so don’t worry, I’m sure you will get one and if you don’t, seriously consider the pointers in this post because you really can negotiate a scholarship! The law school I just negotiated with actually told me they appreciate seeing someone willing to negotiate and are more willing to offer extra scholarship money because it shows your commitment to the school.

Missy has a 2.5 undergrad GPA but a high LSAT score. She’s what we call a “splitter.” Think your GPA is going to keep you from getting scholarships? Take a lesson from Missy and make sure you get a high LSAT score.

If you’re afraid of negotiating your scholarship offers, don’t be. As Missy points out, schools appreciate seeing someone who is willing to negotiate.

Missy first wrote in on February 19th and by February 24th (five days later), she had a full-ride scholarship. Pretty amazing, isn’t it?

But no, the story doesn’t end there. Here’s what I heard from her on April 11, almost two months later…

I need to tell you thank you one more time for this awesome blog! I had one more school I was considering but that only offered me a small scholarship. I took your advice and tried to negotiate.

First I initiated an email explaining that I was extremely interested in their school but due to financial circumstances there was no way I could go there unless I reviewed a larger offer. I asked if there was anything they could do and they immediately added an extra scholarship of $5k. I decided to push it a little further and explained that would still leave me with a lot of loans and asked if I forwarded proof of larger scholarship offers if they could match it…this is where your awesome advice really came in…they told me to forward acceptance letters with scholarship offers.

Although I had some full ride offers I remembered what you said about peer institutions so rather than sending them the unranked schools full rides, I sent over the schools of equal or better ranking (I only chose 3 that I was SERIOUSLY considering)…this was 3 weeks ago…the lady who had been helping me told me she would forward it to the scholarship committee.

Well yesterday I got contacted from this same lady who had been helping me to let me know she just processed a scholarship increase…they increased it to a 90% scholarship! I can’t thank you enough! Your advice has earned me hundreds of thousands of dollars!

And here’s Missy’s last words of advice…

…with a high LSAT but a low GPA, I thought that getting any money was lucky and I had to take what I could get. I hope anyone applying to law school gets lucky enough to read your advice. So go right ahead and quote whatever you want and THANK YOU AGAIN.

There you have it, folks. Missy’s situation is what I call a “best practice.” A situation that was handled well and can be used as an important story to be passed along to anyone else facing a similar situation.

Even if you’re like Missy and think you’re lucky to get what you get, take her advice and DON’T STOP THERE. Follow the tips I give in my negotiating scholarship offers post.

Be brave. Be diplomatic. Be earnest. Take it to the end of the line.

Remember, you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.

THANKS SO MUCH to Missy in Southern California for allowing me to quote her and share her negotiation experiences in this post. Dang, girl, you do impress. If your scholarship negotiations are any indication of future success, you are going to be one kick-ass lawyer.

If you have a scholarship negotiation success story or best practice that you’d like to share, please post it below. I’d love to hear from you!

Female hurdlers photo from the Dutch National Archives.

25 thoughts on “How to Negotiate Scholarship Offers (Part 2)

  1. Hello! Your advice is truly impressive! I want to ask if it would be possible to negotiate a scholarship increase without having a second offer – I applied for only one school and got admitted with 25% scholarship. If so, how should I negotiate? In my case, I don’t have any other offer or scholarship for this school to match. I would great appreciate any advice and insights!

    • Thanks, Jenny. Glad you’ve been finding my tips helpful. Congrats on receiving a 25% scholarship from your one law school. You can always ask if your school has more aid they can give you. It doesn’t hurt to ask. But it will be more difficult to get more $$$ since you don’t have another scholarship offer on the table to show them.

  2. Hi Peg,
    First of all, i think your first post about negotiating scholarships has been the most clear, concise and encouraging guide i have received about how to go about this process so thank you so much for posting. I am not sure if this post is still in your view but if it is i would like to get your insight on the negotiation process with my schools.

    I applied for the fall 2016 school year and i have started hearing back from some of the schools i applied to, yay! As of right now there are two schools in the consideration because of my interest level and their scholarship package.

    William and Mary (29) with a 45% tuition scholarship
    University of Iowa (22) with a full ride and research assistant position for 2L and 3L.

    I am considering contacting William and Mary because this is a school i am more interested in but a caveat i am contemplating is that the scholarship offer from Iowa was more specifically granted because i am an african american student while W&M has a more even ratio of races so the school has less of a need to draw in minorites. I am really worried that they will not consider me for more as a result.
    What do you think, do you think this will place a significant factor in not increasing to a full ride (what i hope for) or do you think it would be enough to point out UIowa’s higher ranking and that i am more interested in W&M.

    • Thanks for writing in, Alake, and for your kind words about this article. I’m so glad you found it to be helpful and encouraging.

      Congrats on getting into William and Mary and Iowa with such substantial scholarships! That’s awesome! Yes, you should contact William and Mary and let them know about the scholarship at Iowa. Talk to the admissions person on the phone, if possible. You could write an email if you’re not comfortable with the phone. Let them know the details of Iowa and let them know WHY you would rather attend William and Mary–be specific. Ask them if there’s any chance your scholarship might increase. Be very diplomatic and polite and let them know that you are not asking for a match, but just want to know if there’s room for any movement with your scholarship. Some applicants demand a match. Don’t be one of those people.

      I think being African American is not going to hurt you in these negotiations. It is VERY hard to find a law school that has enough African American students. We need more! That’s my take on it.

      Good luck! I hope you’ll post how it goes for you. I’d love to know and I know future readers will too.

  3. Hello Peg!

    First off I have to thank you for writing this post. I have been considering if it was proper to negotiate a scholarship offer and was so glad I found this advice. I am wondering how you negotiate between schools that are ranked with schools that are unranked. I applied to 11 schools, was accepted into all 11, and have narrowed the list down to 3 schools. I was accepted into Mitchell Hamline (St. Paul) and they offered me 50% tuition which is approximately$20,000 a year. I was accepted into Valparaiso University, which offered me $30,000 a year. Lastly, I was accepted into University of Akron with a $7,000 scholarship a year. I really like all of them, but am leaning strongly towards Akron at this point. Akron is the only school ranked right now so I was wondering what advice you had on negotiating with them. I would ideally like to negotiate up to the same amount that Valpo has offered me. What advice do you have for this? Side note I am so excited you wrote this second article so I could ask you for advice. I am coming from a very small university so I have no advisors to go to for questions like this.
    Thanks!
    Ashe

    • Peg,

      I would also like to add some other information to aid in your response. I have received scholarship offers from other, ranked, schools that I have just already eliminated as top contenders. Would it be a better strategic move to compare akron/hamline to those other schools due to them being “ranked”? The other schools that rank most closely and have given me decent scholarship offers are: Suffolk (20K), University of Baltimore (15K), and Chicago Kent (10K). I have also been accepted to Marquette but have yet to receive my scholarship offer (they didnt start offering awards until January), but I am contacting them currently to get a status update on that.

      Thanks again!
      Ashe

      • Yes, you should use peer institutions for negotiations. Follow the advice I gave in my last response, but name the schools that are ranked closest to Akron.

        Please know that while I believe everyone should negotiate offers when they receive more than one from peer institutions, schools are NOT obligated to grant you any more money. Be polite, be diplomatic, and be honest about why you really want to attend Akron. Good luck, Ashe, and let me know how it goes!

    • Congrats on getting into all 11 of your schools! That’s awesome! Great job!

      It’s much easier to negotiate scholarships when you are comparing peer institutions, but you can always try to negotiate with Akron. Email or call their admissions staff and let them know politely where you received scholarships and how much. Ask them if there’s any chance they can up their scholarship of $7K. It’s best to leave the amount up to them. Hopefully, they will up it; although, they probably will not increase it to match Valpo.

      Good luck and let me know how it goes!

  4. Hello!
    I am wondering if you have heard of students successfully negotiating their scholarship to the University of Miami Law. I received a 26k/year scholarship (covers 54% tuition over 3 years). I also received 38k/year from Seton Hall, 32k/year from Brooklyn Law, and full rides at Syracuse Law, St. John’s Law, and Albany Law. I am awaiting to hear of my merit aid from Maryland Carey Law and I am waiting for a few more decisions. I originally spoke to someone at Miami Law and they said they do not typically negotiate scholarships.

    • Hi MK, CONGRATS on all your schools and scholarships! Looks like a great set of schools to choose from. 🙂

      I don’t have any particular advice for negotiating with Miami Law. Depending on the Admissions Dean and Financial Aid Director (sometimes the same person), the policies for a school on negotiating scholarships can change. If they told you earlier that they do not typically negotiate scholarships, you could contact them and ask if there’s any leeway now that you know you’ve been admitted and are looking over offers from various schools. They might be willing to talk to you or they might not. But it doesn’t hurt to ask politely if they’d be willing to talk to you. Please only do this if U of Miami Law is your #1 choice. Good luck and let me know how it goes!

  5. Hi,
    I wanted to ask a question regarding peer institutions among the T14.
    My top choice school is the best ranked school I was admitted to (NYU), and upon reviewing my aid application they have awarded me $0. Zilch.
    However, I have offers of approximately $60K ($20k per year) both as merit and/or need based scholarships from what I consider to be peer institutions: Penn, UVA, and Duke.

    NYU is my top choice and 100% a better fit even than Penn, which is almost as great a choice, but I simply cannot afford to go with Zero scholarship money.

    Plot Twist: I’m also considering taking a gap year (for multiple reasons, though mostly because I may have an unexpected opportunity to work a campaign I really care about).

    What suggestions do you have regarding how to negotiate with NYU for just some money, and what benefits or risks are posed by deferral? I’ve heard both that a year of experience always makes for a better scholarship candidate, but that any money negotiated this time wouldn’t apply next year and I wouldn’t have the advantage of being considered by multiple top schools if I defer. Reapplying next year is not something I’m willing to do at the moment.

    Thanks for your helpful posts!

    • Hi Christine, first, congratulations on all your fantastic admissions to T14 schools and your scholarships offers! You go! Awesome work! Second, I think you have a difficult decision ahead of you.

      If NYU is your top choice, and you are willing to go this fall, you should email or call their admissions office and let them know about your scholarship offers from the other T14 schools. Let the know that you cannot afford to attend NYU with zero scholarship money. If you decide to do this, then you should NOT then ask for a deferral after they grant you a scholarship. Only talk to them if you are planning on going to law school THIS fall. If the school jockeys to find scholarship money for you, they expect you to use it and attend this fall. Don’t fish and then cut bait by asking for a scholarship and then saying you’re not going to attend in the fall.

      If you decide to NOT attend this fall, and you have the campaign job in the bag, then you have to think hard about whether you want to ask NYU or any other school for a deferment. If you ask for a deferment and the law school grants it, then they expect you to attend in the following year, with a scholarship or without one.

      I hope this all makes sense. Please write back if it doesn’t or if you have more questions.

  6. Hello!

    I was accepted to Washington University in St. Louis with a $30k scholarship a year and to the University of Washington with a $10k scholarship a year. This makes them virtually the same price (outside of the cost of living) since I am a WA state resident. I am very torn about making this decision because I do eventually want to live in the Pacific Northwest, but Wash U is ranked 18 while UW is ranked around 26/28. Should I email the respective admission offices to negotiate since cost is a big factor for me? How would a JD from WashU fair in the Pacific Northwest?

    • Congrats, JC, on being admitted to both UW and Wash U with scholarships! Yes, you can definitely email the admissions office of UW and let them know about the scholarship you received from Wash U and see if there’s any possibility for movement. Don’t use the word “match,” just ask if there’s any possibility of more scholarship money being offered. If UW is your #1 choice, you should let them know that.

      If you want to practice law in the NW, I highly recommend that you attend UW over Wash U. UW is very well known in the NW. Remember the old saying, “Law is local.” Unless you’re attending a top, nationally known school (Stanford, Harvard, etc.), go to the law school in the state or general region where you want to practice. Good luck, JC!

  7. Hi there,

    I am a California resident and was accepted to Boston University(BU) and Northeastern University(NU) engineering. I am also on UC San Diego waiting list. NU offers me $20k/year scholarship for 4 years. I am also writing the letter to San Diego for their re-consideration. At this moment, I haven’t made up my mind yet.
    BU and NU are pretty similar on ranking. These are my questions.
    1. If I ask BU to match NU’s scholarship and decide not to go afterwards, is it appropriate?
    2. Is it appropriate to ask NU for more scholarship?

    Thank you so much in advance.

    • Hi RL, I’m not familiar with engineering programs but I’ll give you my opinion on your situation.

      1. It’s not appropriate to ask BU to match NU’s scholarship and then after getting it, to NOT go to BU. I highly recommend that you DO NOT do that. Only negotiate with BU if you would much rather go there than NU.

      2. You can ask NU for more of a scholarship but your request may not go anywhere if you don’t have a peer institution offering you more than $20K/year that you can show to NU as a comparison.

      Good luck!

      • Thank you so much Peg for your prompt response and I really appreciate it. Let’s say UC San Diego is my first choice, but I won’t know if I will be selected from waiting list until after May 1. Meanwhile, I negotiate with BU in case I didn’t get in San Diego. It’s a little bit complicated in my case because it involves 3 schools.

        • You’re very welcome, RL. When do you have to let BU know that you want to go there? Can you wait to negotiate your scholarship until after you hear from UCSD on May 1?

          • Thank you again Peg for the advice. I will try to do that. Hope you have a great rest of week.

  8. Peg, thank you for these articles and your comments. I already negotiated an increase in my scholarship at a top 20 school (comes out to be 45%) with a peer school’s offer. I heard back from a T-10 school late in the game, however, and ended up depositing both places. They are on opposite coasts. I doubt I will receive any money from the T-10, but could I leverage the acceptance at the T-10 school with the T-20 school to get more toward my scholarship and should I note that I deposited both places? Trying not to come off in poor taste. Thanks!

    • Just to add, I really want to go to the T-20. It’s difficult justifying the difference in employment stats and I’m trying to find every excuse to swallow my ego and go where I want, so more money would help.

      • I hear you, dc, but you should watch this Malcolm Gladwell video and then feel better about going to the T20 school. Be the bigger fish in the smaller pond. Could really lead to better employment results when you graduate.

    • Sure thing, dc. Great job on negotiating an increased scholarship at a T20 school! Bravo! If you don’t get a money offer from the T10 school, then no, you don’t have anything to negotiate with. Sorry.

  9. Hi,
    Thank you for this post, it have been tremendously helpful. A dilemma on my own, my top choice for law school was boston college, and received 60,000 in scholarship. I was content on making my final decision however, just received word from george mason that they are going to give me a full ride. Do you think the two schools are close enough for me to negotiate? I didn’t really have george mason on my mind but a full ride is hard to ignore…

    • You’re welcome, Jee Hoon. Glad you found this post helpful. Congrats on getting into Boston College and George Mason with substantial schoalarships! Yes, I think the schools are close enough for you to try to negotiate. I don’t know if BC will go for it but it’s worth a try. Good luck!

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