In a historic first, the prestigious law school will provide three years of full-tuition scholarships for 50 students in its JD program whose family income falls below the federal poverty line.
Yale Law School Dean Heather Gerken announced in an interview on Tuesday that the prestigious college plans to cover tuition for its highest-need students starting this fall. She expressed hope that the decision would spark a larger movement to provide need-based financial aid in legal education. Starting in the upcoming fall semester, the college will provide three years of full-tuition scholarships for approximately 45 to 50 students enrolled in its Juris Doctor (JD) program whose family income falls below the federal poverty line, which is currently $27,750 in annual income, and whose assets are below $150,000, Reuters reports.
"I want to provide as much support as we can to our highest-need students," Dean Gerken shared in the interview. "For students who come from below the poverty line, I want to be able to free them from the need to pay any tuition at all." The endowed program will apply to present first and second-year students as well as the new class that starts in the fall this year. As a result of the move, an estimated nine percent of the class will automatically qualify for yearly scholarships worth more than $70,000. The program may also create a more diverse class, one of the school's focus areas in the recent past.
Since the year 2016, Yale Law says it has admitted six of its most diverse law classes on record. Furthermore, approximately one in six of its current first-year students are first-generation learners. This means they are the first in their families to graduate from college. According to the institution, it is one of two law schools to award tuition aid based solely on financial need. Harvard is the only other college to do so. At present, most law schools are focused on "merit" scholarships, which they utilize to bring in applicants with high Law School Admission Test scores and undergraduate grade-point averages. Those high scores help boost a school’s US News & World Report law school rankings (Yale Law is currently in first place).
Yale Law School will begin covering full tuition for its lowest-income students next fall, as the elite graduate program aims to diversify its ranks and make obtaining a law degree more affordable https://t.co/64CnlK0mNQ— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) February 21, 2022
Already, Yale offers financial aid to about 75 percent of its students. However, the newly-introduced scholarship will be the first to cover all tuition. This does not include living expenses, which the school calculates to cost approximately $21,000 per year. The endowed program has been made possible through a combination of private donations. Yale Law alumna Soledad Hurst and her husband, Robert, a former vice chairman at Goldman Sachs, made a founding donation of $20 million. In addition to this, David and Patricia Nierenberg and Gene and Carol Ludwig have provided similar funding.
BREAKING: In a historic first, Yale University announces that its elite law school will now be tuition-free for all of its low-income students — so that they don’t have to take on massive student debt or even pass on the opportunity after being accepted. RT IF YOU SUPPORT THIS!— Occupy Democrats (@OccupyDemocrats) February 21, 2022
Dean Gerken hopes the scholarship will encourage more law schools to introduce similar financial aid programs, prompting them to move away from "merit" scholarships and offer financial need-based funding in their place. She reiterated, "I’m really hoping everyone follows us on this."