Tuesday, September 4, 2012
From the NLJ:
. . . .
African-Americans who are considering law as a career should not ignore [the] data on law school tuition, student debt load and job placement. Because African-Americans as a group have less wealth than whites to finance law school, the cost of attending law school and the ability to repay that cost while earning a living should be a serious consideration for this group of prospective students.
However, African-Americans should not be dissuaded from attending law school by published law school tuition rates. What prospective students should know is that many students with solid academic credentials or financial need actually do not pay full freight to attend law school. Many law schools award financial aid to students based on their LSAT score and undergraduate grade-point average. This type of aid is called "merit"-based aid, and black applicants with solid academic credentials should seek it once they are admitted to a law school.
Some law schools also award need-based financial aid. This financial assistance is awarded to students whose financial profile indicates that they have few (if any) economic resources to draw on to finance law study. Need-based awards are especially appropriate when a student lacks a credit history or credit-worthy co-signer that would enable the student to obtain many of the private loans that are used to finance legal education. Accordingly, African-Americans with little or no economic resources of their own should seek out law schools that provide need-based aid rather than opt out of legal education altogether. Moreover, law schools that have shifted scholarship dollars away from need-based aid in order to fund "merit" scholarships to aid recruitment of highly credentialed students should understand that this practice has a negative impact on their ability to recruit students with financial need, a disproportionate number of whom are African-American.
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