On Campus

Law schools accused of 'bait and switch' on scholarships

American colleges enticing quality students to boost their rankings

American law students are accusing schools of “bait and switch” when it comes to merit-based scholarships. According to a Saturday report in the New York Times, more than ever, law schools ares enticing students with the promise that their tuition fees will be mostly, or even fully, covered.

The catch is that in most cases, a minimum grade point average is required to retain funding passed the first year, and students say law faculties are not always upfront with how difficult it is to keep their grades up, or what proportion of students keep their scholarships. At Golden Gate University of Law, in San Francisco, for instance, 57 per cent of current first-year students have merit scholarships, but only around a third can be certain to maintain the requisite 3.0 GPA to keep their funding going into second-year. First-year classes are more likely to be subjected to curve grading.

Jerry Organ, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas, in Minneapolis, has studied the rise of merit based scholarships since the 1980s. He pointed out to the Times that since U.S. News began ranking law schools in 1987, there has been fierce competition for quality students. The grades and LSAT scores of students account for 22 per cent of a school’s ranking, suggesting that if exceptional students can be swayed from attending a more elite college with the promise of large scholarships, it can help boost a school’s score. “What law schools are buying is higher G.P.A.’s and LSATs,” Organ said.

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