- New program to provide full-tuition scholarships to as many as 50 law students
- Effort funded in part by a $20 million donation
Yale Law School is planning to suspend low-income children's tuition starting in the fall, according to the dean. It hopes to initiate a greater push toward need-based financial help in legal education.
In the course of the J.D., the school will provide full-tuition scholarships for 45 to 50 students with income that has lowered the federal poverty level (currently $27,750 in annual income) and a debt that has remained below $150,000.
According to a survey, about 9% of students will automatically qualify for over $70,000 in annual scholarships.
The ambitious program, which the school hopes to expand over time, will include current first- and second-year students as well as the new class that starts in the fall.
In a Tuesday interview, Yale Law Dean Heather Gerken said: "I want to be able to provide as much as possible to our highest-bed students." "For students who come from below the poverty line, I want to be able to relieve them of the need to pay any tuition at all."
The Yale Law, which is no. 1 in the closely watched US News & World Report law school rankings, has focused on diversifying its student body.
Yale has announced that it has admitted six of its most diverse law classes on record, and approximately one in six of its current first-year students is the first in their families to graduate.
According to Yale, it and Harvard are the only law schools that award financial assistance based only on financial need.
Most schools use "merit" scholarships to draw in applicants with high Law School Admission Test scores and undergraduate grade-point scores. These high scores aid in boosting the United States News ranking.
Yale offers financial assistance to around three-quarters of its pupils, but the new scholarship will be the first to cover all tuition. It does not include living expenses, which the school forecasts to be $21,000 per year.
The program is funded in part through a combination of private donations. Yale Law alumna Soledad Hurst and her husband, Robert, a former vice chairman at Goldman Sachs, made a founding donation of $20 million. Additional funding comes from David and Patricia Nierenberg, and Gene and Carol Ludwig.
Gerken said she hopes the new program will help other law schools allocate more money to need-based scholarships and avoid merit-based financial help.
"I'm really hoping that everyone will follow us on this," she said.
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Karen Sloan discusses law firms, law schools, and the practice of law. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.