Harvard Law School is prohibitively expensive for most students, so searching out scholarship opportunities is the best bet for avoiding massive student loan debt. The law school itself offers generous financial aid opportunities for economically disadvantaged students, but they offer no merit or “full ride” scholarships. This means there is more money for need-based aid, but not enough for the majority of students who come from families that make more than need-based scholarships require, but quite a bit less than is needed to pay for school. While loans are always an option, there are many outside scholarship opportunities for Harvard Law students.
Some awards are not enough to cover the nearly $73,000 a year for tuition, fees, and expenses. But if you string enough together, you can make a big dent in that amount and minimize or eliminate mounting interest on student loans. The USA Funds Access to Education offers $1500 scholarships to law students who demonstrate financial need. While that may not sound like a substantial amount, consider that you would have made $1500 in short time it would take to prepare the application. There will be more work to cover the rest of the cost, but it’s a start.
There are more substantial scholarship opportunities, especially for minority students. The National Asian Pacific Bar Association awards scholarships between $2500 and $7500 for law students who have a proven record of leadership and commitment to the Asian American community. The McDermott Minority Scholarship awards a $15,000 scholarship and a position in a McDermott Summer Program to a second-year minority law student. An even more substantial award comes from the Soros Fellowship for New Americans. They offer a living stipend of $25,000 and a tuition credit up to $20,000 for green card holders, new immigrants, or children of naturalized citizens.
There are many other scholarship opportunities based on considerations other than minority status. For law students interested in pursuing a career in entertainment law, the Daniel H. Kossow Scholarship awards $2500 to a Harvard Law School student. The Donald Banner Diversity Scholarship makes money available for law students who are interested in intellectual property law.
Other scholarship opportunities are tied to the region from which the student comes. The Las Vegas Chapter of the National Bar Association provides a scholarship to law students who come from or who have a connection to the Las Vegas area. Or the Black Lawyers Association of Cincinnati awards a scholarship every year to African American law students from that city.
Most of these options are very specific so finding the right scholarship for you will depend on a little research. However, the potential financial benefits of doing your homework and applying far outweigh the time you will devote to it. The Student Financial Services webpage of the Harvard Law School details many of these scholarship opportunities, plus many more. If, after looking at their information, you are still unable to craft a workable plan to pay for school, contact them directly. They will be happy to talk about your situation and point you in the right direction.