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Law School Scholarships Flow To The Rich

CAMBRIDGE, MA - MAY 26, 2011: Students of Harvard University gather for their graduation ceremonies on Commencement Day on May 26, 2011 in Cambridge, MA.

February 13, 2017

An increase in merit scholarships has mostly benefitted privileged students whose parents are college-educated, according to, “Law School Scholarship Policies: Engines of Inequity,” a new report from the Law School Survey of Student Engagement. Individuals whose parents had no college experience were the least likely to receive merit scholarships, the study showed. Of scholarships awarded to more than 17,000 respondents, the study found that 79 percent were merit-based. Among the respondents with merit scholarships, 65 percent had at least one parent with a bachelor’s degree or higher. “[S]o called merit scholarships are less about students’ merit than they are about our own sense of elitism,” wrote Frank H. Wu, a University of California Hastings College of Law professor who wrote the survey’s foreword. He argued that the merit scholarships placed disproportionate weight on LSAT scores, when a better determination of merit would be based on law school work. “Instead of identifying talented individuals who lack resources – the ‘strivers’ we claim to admire – we are reinforcing economic hierarchy. We are sending the message that those who already have so much deserve so much more,” Wu wrote.

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