Which law schools were most likely to yank merit-based scholarships?
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Jul 8, 2013, 10:45 am CDT
Updated: Back in May of 2011, several law students at Golden Gate law school used the word “bait and switch” to describe the school’s scholarship offers that are conditioned on maintaining B averages.
The New York Times highlighted their plight in a story pointing out that many law schools lure students with merit scholarships that are withdrawn when their grades fall below a minimum standard. Since then, the ABA has collected information about these scholarship programs. It turns out that 22 law schools had worse records for scholarship retention than Golden Gate.
University of St. Thomas law professor Jerry Organ analyzed website statistics for 140 ABA-accredited schools that offered conditional scholarships for entering students in 2011. He published his findings in a paper he cited at the Legal Whiteboard.
The average retention rate for scholarships across these 140 schools was 69 percent, Organ found. Twenty-six law schools had retention rates of 90 percent or better, while eight law schools had retention rates of less than 40 percent.
Among all the accredited law schools with merit-based scholarships, these 25 schools had the worst retention rates for entering students in 2011:
St. Mary’s (21%)
St. Thomas in Florida (24%)
Texas Wesleyan (28%)
George Mason (32%)
Florida A&M (40%)
Santa Clara (40%)
Arkansas Fayetteville (44%)
Western State University (45%)
Golden Gate (50%)
John Marshall in Chicago (50%)
Texas Southern (50%)
These schools, on the other hand, had 100 percent retention rates: UCLA, University of Minnesota, Emory, University of Arizona, University of Colorado, Connecticut, Oklahoma, Oregon, Stetson, Vermont, Liberty and South Dakota.
These schools had retention rates at or above 90 percent and below 100 percent: University of Texas, George Washington, Washington and Lee, Georgia, William & Mary, University of Maryland, Ohio State, Baylor, Cardozo, Syracuse, CUNY, William Mitchell, Appalachian and Elon.
University of Akron interim law dean Elizabeth Reilly issued a statement saying that, since at least 2007, the school “has been fully transparent about the likelihood and difficulty of maintaining our merit scholarships in all our letters to students and on our website.” An online statement outlines the school’s strategy of keeping tuition low and basing scholarships on law school performance rather than entering credentials.
ABAJournal.com: “At four law schools, fewer than 40 percent of students retain their merit scholarships”
ABAJournal.com: “Bait and Switch? Law Schools Gain in US News with Merit Scholarships Conditioned on High Grades”
Updated on July 15 at 8 a.m. to include statement by Akron’s interim law dean and to clarify that reference is to John Marshall in Chicago.