Law School Application Reductions, Last Minute Scholarships

By William Peacock, Esq. on June 17, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Yep, it certainly is a good time to apply to law school.

We’ve pontificated a bit about the decrease in applications, applicants, and demand for law school seats. We’ve also speculated on what that means for wannabe-lawyers. Now, we’re getting concrete examples of the fallout from the law school bubble-burst.

Schools are dumping scholarship offers on those who chose to go elsewhere. Though most schools’ application numbers are in line with the national decrease, a few lower-ranked schools actually had more applicants. It’s a mixed bag of data, but it furthers the notion that now, more than ever, your decision on which school to attend is more complicated than picking the higher rank.

Washington University in St. Louis' 24-Hour Scholarship Offers

We're going to disagree with Elie Mystal's rant here. Above the Law reports that Wash U offered full tuition scholarships to a number of students that previously chose to attend elsewhere, with one big caveat: a 24-hour expiration date. We pity the fools who were on vacation last Wednesday.

ATL is right in one regard -- the 24-hour expiration date is a bit ridiculous and "high pressure." And it's probably true that if one of the offerees tried to take the school up on the offer on Friday, the scholarship would still happen. On the other hand, it's a matter of limiting exposure and preventing a situation where they over-promise scholarship funds.

As someone who received a few of these last-minute offers during boom times, I can promise you that not too many of the offerees are suffering from hurt feelings. If you declined the school because of financial reasons only, there isn't much of a decision to be made. It's tuition-free law school. Why are we complaining again?

As long as there isn't a massive contraction in the supply of incoming-1L seats, we'd expect these sorts of offers to become more common as schools try to maintain high admissions numbers while cushioning the blow of decreased demand. In other words, we hope you rocked last week's LSAT.

Application Numbers in Flux

Bloomberg did the hard work here, and trudged through a lot of data to find some interesting trends:

Our favorite? City University of New York's application increase. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg once called the school, "an institution of incomparable value." She wasn't referring to the relatively-cheap tuition ($7k per semester for in-state, $11k for out-of-state) either. She was talking about the school's public interest focus and highly-regarded clinical programs. If you're headed for a legal career now, it better be motivated by either public interest leanings or family connections -- the days of quick post-grad paychecks are over.

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