Navigating Residency & Tuition in Law School
I'm pretty sure I have mentioned this before, but I wanted to talk more about residency and the struggle I had getting in state tuition because it was literally tens of thousands of dollars on the line. I decided to go to law school in my home state of Indiana. This is hilarious because I told myself, and everyone else who would listen, that there was no way I would go here because it is the rival of my undergraduate school.
Turns out I visited and fell completely in love with it. After my visit I committed the next Monday and all was great. Then, a week later I was totally blindsided to learn that I was no longer considered an instate resident and would be paying an extra $20,000 a year. After a minor (major) freak out I decided I would do what I could to get around the situation but that this school was still so worth to me so I would figure it out.
Here are the ways I navigated reducing tuition costs and getting instate tuition:
- Negotiate Your Scholarship - personally, I think you should be doing this even if you think you got a great offer. I learned that there is always a lot of room for negotiation, especially for students for have taken the time to visit and show they are truly interested in the school. I got an increase on my scholarship to offset the out-of-state tuition costs.
This is probably the most intimidating part of the law school application process, but if you aren’t willing to ask, no one will think to give. Reach out to your Office of Admission! I emailed the Ast. Dean of Admissions because that is who sent me my welcome email. Be honest with them about your offer and what you are looking for. Be direct – they know what you are asking for and they aren’t surprised so you don’t have to pretend you aren’t asking for more money. Remind the of what you bring to the table! They admitted you for a reason. You deserve your spot and they may be willing to give you a better scholarship to keep you. (PS – I’ll be posting a more in-depth advice on negotiating scholarships so look out for it soon!)
- Reach out to current students and professors - I got welcome emails from both students and professors when I was admitted. One of the professors who emailed actually was a huge advocate for me in this process and helped keep my sane. I was completely honest with him about my financial situation and he was really understanding. He reached out to the admissions office and vouched for me when they were discussing increasing my scholarship. He also researched the residency rules that got me in this situation.
Side Note: reach out to Alumni too if you have an contacts. Alumni send money and support to the law school and there concerns definitely get heard. There are often times alumni scholarship as well.
- Lastly, reach out the Office of the Registrar and question their decision. I emailed them and let them know that I had moved for work but would be moving back and will have spent less than a year living out of state. Turns out, all I need was the proof of this and bam I was considered an instate resident.
Moral of the story - law school is expensive AF and you will be blindsided with costs at some point. Take a moment to calm down and evaluate what your next move is. Reach out to your support network and figure out a game plan.
Let me know if you had any issues with residency or tuition costs when you decided on your law school! How did you manage these issues?
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