Prospective law students with merit-based scholarships at multiple schools are now showing the better offer to the school they really want to go to to get that school’s dean to “match” the first offer. Just that promise appliance stores make that if you find one of their products priced lower at a rival store, they’ll match the price!
One dean complains that the real victims of this gaming of the system are those students who actually need scholarships in order to afford law school (please…are you training lawyers, or what?)
WSJ Law Blog: UCLA Law Dean Michael Schill said that, when it comes to merit-based scholarships, students are benefiting from the information revolution, and are increasingly aware of their bargaining power.
For instance, if a sought-after applicant has merit-based scholarship offers from both Vanderbilt and UCLA — ranked 15th and 16th respectively in U.S. News — the student in question can, in essence, play the market by simply showing his or her best scholarship offer from one school to the dean of students at the other school. Voila. If the dean “matches” — an increasingly likely scenario — you’ve just shaved several thousand bucks off your tuition, and, perhaps, several years off your repayment plan.
“With the advent of social networks and the internet, students now know about each other’s awards,” said Schill. “Websites allow them to compare. So many bargain one school off against the other in a process that sometimes resembles ‘Let’s Make a Deal.'”
It sounded pretty good to us. With all the news of rising tuitions, an increasingly grim legal market, and, still, more law schools in the making, we think there’s some justice in the well-positioned law school candidate having some means of push-back.
What’s the flip-side? “There is a zero sum game aspect to this,” says Schill. “The students who are hurt. . . include those who would have gotten need-based aid under the early system.” (Dean Schill says that when he went to law schools, in the early 80’s, virtually all financial aid was need-based). He added: “They may be foreclosed from going to law school or have to take on huge loans.”
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