3 Top Law School Scholarships to Help Pay Your Degree

The average law school costs about $43,000 per year. At schools like Columbia, it can go as high as $60,000. That’s a lot of money, which most students can’t afford. So, what’s going to happen? Students at the law school graduate, on average, with over $117,000 in loans. You might wonder why there is so much money on the line. Do law schools offer a scholarship? The answer is yes; there is a law school scholarship for students in each law school. While some are need-based, some are merit-based, and you’ll want to invest in a quality LSAT prep course to improve your chances of securing funding.

Most of the students go to law school and graduate with thousands of dollars in big debt. However, some students manage to get their degree in Juris Doctor (JD) without paying any money. Both small grants and full-ride scholarships are available. But, the truth is, any money helps to bring down the high cost of going to law school. Let’s look at which universities offer you law school scholarships and what scholarships they offer to help you pay for your degree.

law school scholarships

Columbia Law School Scholarships

To support LL.M. candidates, Columbia Law School offers a robust, primarily need-based financial aid program. To give as many students as possible some form of assistance, they expect applicants to share in the cost of the LL.M. program and actively seek other funding sources throughout the application process for their studies. This philosophy of cost-sharing leads to a greater diversity of students in the LL.M. class from a geographical, practical, and socio-economic perspective, greatly enhancing the professional network of colleagues among students and their learning experience while at Columbia.

Columbia Law School scholarships do not require a disbursement. They also generally don’t require you to undertake a specific research area while at Columbia, except for specifically named fellowships.

There are two types of grants: institutional (need-based scholarships) and fellowships and scholarships at Columbia Law School.

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Institutional (need-based scholarships)

These are awarded based on your application for financial aid. The scholarships named below don’t even require additional applications. Applicants who have both completed the LL.M. application for the program and its financial assistance application will be considered automatically for all the fellowships described below.

  • 3 Crowns
  • Baker McKenzie Scholarship
  • Burton Memorial Fellowship
  • Catherine N. Niarchos Human Rights LL.M. Scholarship
  • Chamberlain Fellowship in Legislation
  • Charles B. Bretzfelder Constitutional Law Scholarship Fund
  • Charles B. Bretzfelder International Law Scholarship Fund
  • Fubon Fellowship Fund
  • José Francisco Gouvêa Vieira Scholarship
  • Joseph V. Heffernan Fellowship
  • Julius Silver Fellowship in Law, Science, and Technology
  • Lawrence A. Wien Prize and Fellowship in Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Morris Fellowship
  • Raymond J. Baer Scholarship
  • The Appel Research Scholarship
  • The Jack J.T. Huang Scholarship
  • The Judith R. and Michael E. Thoyer Scholarship
  • The Lucius N. Littauer Foundation Grant to the Center for Israeli Legal Studies
  • The Norman E. Alexander Scholarship
  • The Smith Family Opportunity Scholarship
  • Bayard Cutting Jr. Fellowship
  • Wolfgang G. Friedmann Memorial Fellowship

Fellowships and scholarships

Other Columbia law school scholarships that need a separate application include:

  • Appel Fellowship
  • CPRL Lemann Scholar Award
  • Human Rights Fellowship
  • Jagdish Bhagwati Fellowship

Stanford Law School Scholarships

Stanford Law School offers financial assistance to help students who otherwise would not be able to attain a law degree at SLS. Roughly 75–80 percent of the student body obtains a tuition fellowship or loan assistance, with an average of $25,000 to $28,000 per recipient per year. Aid is granted on the basis of proven need and is issued through a combination of tuition fellowships, government-guaranteed loans, and private loans.

In general, the Stanford Law School Scholarships System operates as follows:

  • The school establishes a standard budget each year to cover the basic costs (tuition plus living expenses).
  • The needs of each student are calculated by deducting reported resources from the standard budget. These resources include one-third of reported assets; 57 percent of summer gross earnings over $6,000; assumed spousal earnings (if married); and an imputed parental contribution (based on the CSS Profile analysis) when dependent on the student.
  • Each student is then expected to borrow or otherwise raise a portion of this requirement, with the rest being an outright grant, subject to a full tuition limit.
  • Financial aid is assessed annually. Thus, over three years of attendance, one can not be guaranteed the same level of aid.
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Some of the financial aid of Stanford Law School that you can apply for include:

  • Graduate Family Grant
  • Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP)
  • Yellow Ribbon Program
  • Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program
  • Paid Assistantships

Yale Law School Scholarships

The policies and programs of Yale Law School Scholarships are designed to allow students to pursue their legal education at Yale, regardless of their financial circumstances.

Its academic year financial aid consists of need-based grants and loans. The primary goal of its financial aid program is to ensure that all admitted students can afford to attend Yale Law School, regardless of their financial resources. Yale Law School determines the financial aid awards based on a budget of tuition and fees plus allowances for living expenses, books, etc.

The process of applying for financial aid differs for both newly admitted students and continuing students, as well as for those students only seeking loan support versus those seeking a full financial aid package of both loans and scholarships.

Using a combination of loans and scholarship grants, Yale Law School makes every attempt to make the difference between its resources—such as family resources, summer earnings, and student savings—and the cost of attending Yale available to its students.

In the 2021–2022 academic year, 76% of the student body received some form of financial aid. This includes both loans and scholarships. 64% of the student body qualified for Law School institutional scholarships. These scholarships are awarded solely based on financial need. The median amount of scholarship awarded to J.D. students was ~$30,000. Students graduated with an average loan amount of ~$130K. In total, Yale Law School disbursed $12 million in institutional support to its J.D. students in the 2021–2022 academic year.

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Yale Law School makes every effort to provide students with the difference between their resources (such as family resources, summer earnings, and student savings) and the cost of attending Yale Law School using a combination of loans and grants/scholarships.

Grants provided by the institutional resources of Yale Law School and by the generosity of our endowed scholarship funds are only awarded on the basis of the institution’s need.

Yale Law School does not give scholarships based on merit or criteria. The maximum possible subsidy is the tuition amount. The same need-based calculation applies to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and international students, who are examined in the same way for institutional scholarship eligibility.

Special or imbued scholarships, such as those listed in the Law School Bulletin, are only awarded to students with proven financial need and do not increase the awards to the recipient. Questions are included on FAAST to assess a student’s eligibility for specific endowed scholarship criteria, and, as such, no separate application is required. If the student is notified of supporting their institutional need-based scholarship through one of the Yale Law School’s endowed funds, they will be asked to submit a resume and may be asked to write an acknowledgment of gratitude to the fund donor for stewardship purposes. Students may also have opportunities to directly meet with or otherwise thank donors. Grants are distributed to the student’s term bill account by crediting 50% of each term.


Law school is a significant financial investment, with many students graduating with substantial debt. However, there are numerous scholarship opportunities available to help offset the cost. While the high cost of law school remains a challenge, the availability of generous scholarships can help make legal education more accessible to a wider range of students. By researching and applying for scholarships offered by Columbia, Stanford, and Yale Law Schools, students can significantly reduce their financial burden and pursue their legal careers with less debt.

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