Scholarship Essay Editing
No discussion on LL.M. programs would be complete without talking about the financial considerations that are involved. Getting an LL.M. can be expensive ranging from $30,000 to even $70,000. Yes, there are scholarships and long-term loans. But where does one start? Is it realistic to expect a scholarship for an LL.M.? Do we need collateral for a loan? But, what if you don’t have any?
All these questions are relevant and bound to run through your mind. LL.M. programs do offer scholarships but they are limited in range. Most of them offer less than 20-30% of the cost of attendance and some schools do not offer them at all. It is best to email their admissions department in advance to check what their policies are. Needless to say it is a competitive decision and sometimes there is no information given but simply an offer made through a Skype Interview. At the end of my interview with Emory Law, I received an offer for a scholarship that was close to 50% of the cost of attendance. I was elated because have done my undergraduate degree in the South, I knew what a strong name Emory was. To that effect, I felt even more happier when Vanderbilt made a very good scholarship amount that even exceeded 50% of the cost of attendance. It was not an easy decision turning down these handsome amounts for a very expensive NYU Law degree, but turning down scholarship deals is part of the admissions game. You have to do a cost-benefit analysis between law schools and then stick to it. Be prepared to write some really good letters declining these amounts, and, be honest. Admissions directors appreciate honesty and clarity. Tell them where you plan to go and why you made that decision.
Some schools will offer amounts that are nominal in nature as well (as little as $5,000 for a degree over $60,000). But any amount is meant to help you and a recognition of your credentials, so feel proud about it no matter what the actual dollar amount is. Pat yourself on the back. If your university has a partner law-school, then it might be worth your time to explore that option as well to see how much they would offer to somebody from a partner institution. Also, there are some external scholarships available through organizations (or foundations, trusts) that work in a part loan-part grant format, so be sure to check these out as well.
There are non-collateral loans available that offer students a 10-year window for repayment upon graduation. One such really wonderful company, is Prodigy Finance. I honestly do not know if I would have been able to go for my LL.M. had it not been for their support. I was sanctioned a loan for around $34,000. This helped pay a huge part of my residential expenses and also some part of the academic expenses as well. So if you dont have collateral because the only asset you have ever owned was your Playstation, don’t fret. This is a collateral-free loan unlike getting one through a major commercial bank where collateral is required. For Prodigy, you have to go through their online verification process, a credit check and then have to sign the agreement online with them too. Having not been able to secure enough funding from family, Prodigy was a life-saver. They even give you a few months grace period (6 months) before the payment period begins. As an added advantage, if you are in New York you will also get some freebies such as free pens, chocolates and even some winter wear from them in their bi-weekly coffee chats!
Nevertheless, the LL.M. is an expensive affair. The books in American law schools can cost as high as $150-$200. Sometimes there is no way around buying these books as professors insist that one buys the most recent edition. So when you are planning your budget, keep at least a $1000 for a semester’s worth of books. I had even written an opinion piece in the student newspaper on the cost of law school textbooks and how they ought to go digital: (https://www.nyunews.com/2017/04/10/nyu-law-textbooks-should-go-digital/). You will see and hear countless international students whine about the cost of the textbooks, but perhaps very little is being done at the law school front to address this. Let’s hope things change for the better. And perhaps with e-books on Kindle, they will.