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Unless you're lucky enough to be a trust fund beneficiary, you will most likely have to consider costs when applying to law schools. One perceived drawback for many students is that early decision applicants generally have fewer merit-based options.
A few schools, however, have decided to offer money to students who undergo the early decision process. They're looking to catch those who would otherwise join the regular applicant pool for fear of missing out on greener pastures.
They say the early bird gets the worm, and this may be the case for undergraduate admissions. But for law school, things get more complicated.
It is generally thought that the early admissions process gives those students who opt for it the competitive and tactical advantage of having their application materials reviewed sooner against a smaller pool of applicants (because not all applicants opt for early admissions). This means you get your decision faster.
Of course, like anything, there's a cost. For one, if you get accepted, you are bound to accept that school's seat, which may or may not be your optimal choice. What if you applied early to a "safety" school? Another cost is the general lack of funding available at the early admissions stage because many merit-based scholarship offers are made during the regular applicant pool stage. If money is on your mind, then applying under the early admissions paradigm could cost you.
To help sway a good number of students into applying early, several schools have offered merit-based scholarships for those would-be early decision applicants who are sitting on the fence. Pritzker School of Law (formerly Northwestern Law) is offering a $150,000 in merit scholarships divided up over three years. That's a pretty fantastic sum. University of Texas Law is also offering cash, though not as impressive a sum as Northwestern.
Boston Law also has an early-decision carrot to tempt students.
Keep in mind your place on the pecking order, however. If you have a particularly strong application, you may get offered a scholarship even if you apply with the regular applicants. You don't want to get unnecessarily stuck being bound to your second choice school.
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