- Aspiring Law Students – Scholarships that can be used to pay for degrees prior to a J.D., such as a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
- Incoming Law Students – Scholarships for students currently applying to law school or for those who have been admitted to a law school (0Ls). Some can also be used by students in their first year of law school (1Ls).
- Returning Law Students – These scholarships are for students who have already begun their legal studies, such as those in their second year (2L), third year (3L), or fourth year (4L). Some can also be used by current first-year students (1Ls).
- Bar Study – Funds awarded to assist with costs associated with studying for and sitting for a bar exam.
- Writing Competitions – These contests evaluate a written product, which may be topic-specific and of publishable quality, and provide cash awards, often to multiple winners.
While there are some similarities between a scholarship and a writing competition, the main evaluation for a writing competition is the written product. These competitions normally have written guidelines for page length, citation form, and are tied to journals or professional organizations. Also, writing competitions typically have cash awards and may have tax consequences.
If a scholarship requires written work, it is usually shorter and broader. Many scholarships will only have minimal writing outside of a personal statement. Scholarship awards may be funneled through your school’s financial aid office and reduce your tuition bill.
Scholarships with a merit component will consider academic performance (current or past) and may have specific cutoffs such as a GPA requirement.
Need-based scholarships take financial need into consideration and may require financial documentation from student applicants—and possibly their parents as well. Check the scholarship provider website for details on what documentation will be required.
Many scholarships may require an academic transcript, which is a record of your enrollment history, grades, and degrees at a specific institution. Some scholarships will accept an unofficial transcript, but others may require an official transcript. Please note: Official transcripts often have a cost associated with them and will entail wait times.
Interest area refers to an activity or legal topic in which a student applicant has participated, studied, or otherwise demonstrated an interest. Some scholarships and many writing competitions are intended for students interested in specific legal areas. Review the scholarship or the scholarship provider’s website for more details.
General Scholarship Questions
Your likelihood of winning depends on the scholarships you choose, the quality of your application materials, the competition for the scholarship you apply for, and how closely your strengths, accomplishments, and attributes align with the scholarship criteria. Improve your chances by selecting scholarships carefully and assembling excellent application materials (including well-written essays and statements).
If a scholarship lists a specific requirement, and you meet that requirement, that will certainly strengthen your application. Some interests, attributes, or experiences may make for a distinctive essay topic, be appealing to the scholarship provider, or help set you apart from other students applying for the same scholarship.
Yes, but be sure to check each scholarship for its requirements. Some scholarships in the AccessLex Law School Scholarship Databank are open to a broader audience, including pre-law studies. Still, others are restricted to specific years in law school or have other limitations.
Ask a professor, workplace mentor, coach, someone in a community organization, or employer who can speak to your strengths and your successes – particularly those you wish to highlight in your scholarship application. Ideally, allow prospective recommenders at least one month to write a letter for you. Ask your recommender if you can provide any supplemental information (such as a list of your strengths and achievements, or details about the scholarship), and how and whether the recommender would like you to remind them of the deadline for submission.
Pay attention to details! Be sure to include high-quality materials in your application and comply with all dates and requirements. Leave yourself plenty of time before the deadline, especially if there are application components out of your direct control, such as transcripts or letters of recommendation. Proofread multiple times, and if possible, have a trusted friend or colleague proofread it for you.
Awarding and Funding Process
Communication timelines depend on the scholarship provider. Some only notify winners, and others will notify all applicants. Commonly, winners will be notified within a month of the deadline (or less).
Reach out to your law school financial aid office to confirm their policies on outside scholarships (defined as scholarships not awarded by the law school themselves). Frequently, these scholarships will be paid directly to your school, and your school will adjust your Financial Aid package accordingly. At the law school level, this often means reducing the amount of student loans you borrow for a given year, but your school will be able to confirm based on your personal financial aid package. Even if the scholarship is awarded to you directly, your law school’s policies may require you to notify the Financial Aid Office. Contact them to verify.
Check with the scholarship provider to confirm. Be sure to read your law school's financial aid policies to learn about how the scholarship will affect your financial aid package and whether you are required to notify your law school.
The scholarships in the AccessLex Law School Scholarship Databank can be used to pay for law school, and some apply to other higher education degrees. Certain scholarships are limited to paying for tuition expenses, while others may be used to cover living expenses, books, or bar study expenses, as specified in the scholarship description.
Scholarship funds used for tuition, fees, books, and supplies are usually tax-free, but scholarships used for living expenses are typically taxed as income (see IRS Topic No. 421). Writing competitions are usually cash awards made payable to the winner directly, without stipulation as to how they must be used. As a result, writing competition awards are typically considered income and are therefore taxable. Please consult a tax professional for more information.
Scholarship Specific Questions
This may vary by scholarship provider; please review the provider's scholarship website and application details, or contact the provider directly.
Each scholarship will have different terms; click through to the scholarship provider's website for details.
It is rare for a scholarship provider to offer a deadline extension. Check scholarship provider websites carefully and pay close attention to application requirements and deadlines.
We research and vet scholarships carefully. Some scholarship websites may not have had updated deadline information available. Due to the pandemic, some scholarships haven't been updated but may still be awarded, while some have taken a year off. We encourage you to click through to the scholarship provider's website to confirm deadlines.
Student Technical Questions about the AccessLex Law School Scholarship Databank
A year-long research project was undertaken to identify scholarships that aspiring or current law students can use to pay for law school. Each scholarship has been verified and vetted before inclusion, and each scholarship can be used to pay for law school.
Not yet, but check back regularly! We hope to offer this functionality in the future.
Provider Technical Questions about the AccessLex Law School Scholarship Databank
About AccessLex Institute®
We provide tools to help students maximize the affordability of a law degree and to assist them in making wise financial decisions. We wanted to make it easier for students to find money to help pay for law school and lower their student loan burdens by providing a list of vetted scholarships.
We offer many free tools and resources for current and aspiring law students. Our goal is to helps student make strategic financial decisions at every step of their law school journey.
- MAX Pre-Law by AccessLex® provides interactive lessons, webinars, worksheets, checklists, and one-on-one financial strategy coaching. Whether you're just beginning to explore the idea of law school, or you're already planning your application, let MAX Pre-Law help answer your most pressing questions.
- AccessConnex by AccessLexSM gives you free access to our team of Accredited Financial Counselors, who can answer your financial questions about scholarships, grants, loan terms, repayment options, credit, and more. Schedule a call with one of our counselors at a time that works for you!
- Use our Student Loan Calculator to help understand the financial realities of a law degree and make informed financial decisions.
- MAX by AccessLex® is the free personal finance program designed exclusively for law students. Learn top financial strategies with in-person and online learning options, one-on-one financial coaching from Accredited Financial Counselors, and over $300,000 in scholarship incentives each year to keep you motivated! From paying for law school to investing for your retirement – and every step in between – let MAX be your guide!
- Our upcoming schedule of free webinars offers topics related to the pre-law experience, repaying student loans, student loan forgiveness, and more. (MAX students have access to an even wider range of personal finance topics via webinars and in-person sessions.)