Law Schools

At four law schools, fewer than 40 percent of students retain their merit scholarships

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Which law schools have the worst rates for scholarship retention? There is no complete answer to the question, because 90 law schools have missed an Oct. 15 deadline to post such information.

University of St. Thomas law school professor Jerry Organ hopes to analyze the data for trends, the National Jurist (reg. req.) reports in a story noted by TaxProf Blog. But Organ says he’s hampered because 90 accredited schools missed the deadline set by the ABA.

Organ studied 79 law schools that posted online statistics. The average scholarship retention rate at those schools is 69 percent, the story says. Fifteen of the schools have a rate above 90 percent, and four have a rate below 40 percent.

Excluded from Organ’s analysis are 24 other schools that don’t offer merit scholarships or that require students only to maintain a 2.0 grade point average to retain the money.

Organ wouldn’t say which schools have high or low retention rates because so many schools have yet to post information. National Jurist checked a few websites and found a good record at the University of Texas School of Law, where 215 students received merit-based scholarships in 2011 and only three saw the money reduced or eliminated.

National Jurist found two schools where about half the students had their scholarships reduced or eliminated. They are Drake University Law School and Golden Gate University School of Law. Golden Gate was highlighted in a New York Times story on bait-and-switch scholarships. On the positive side, the school was given a perfect score for full transparency by Law School Transparency.

Drake defended its numbers when contacted by National Jurist, saying its scholarships are based on need, GPAs and LSATs. Students must be in the top third of their class to retain full scholarships and in the top half to retain partial scholarships, according to Kara Blanchard, director of the school’s admission and financial aid department. Those who lose the money can win reinstatement if they rebound to required levels. Blanchard also points out that the retention rate for full-tuition scholarships, given to students with the best academic credentials, is 80 percent.

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