Pitt among schools increasing scholarship funds for law students
The University of Pittsburgh School of Law is offering a new round of scholarships in the increasingly intense national competition to snare top students from a shrinking pool of applicants.
The three-year scholarships range from $10,000 a year to full tuition — currently $29,660 for Pennsylvania residents and $36,864 for out-of-state students — for top students who apply by Feb. 15. The announcement follows similar moves by other Pennsylvania law schools.
“We're looking to maintain and increase the quality of our incoming class,” said William M. Carter, Jr., dean of the Pitt law school.
The new round of law school scholarships comes as law schools across the country face steep declines in the pool of applicants and compete for top students to boost their standing in national rankings, such as the one conducted annually by U.S. News & World Report.
Villanova in Eastern Pennsylvania announced last week that it will double the number of full-tuition scholarships for top students to 50 next year. Penn State's Dickinson School of Law will give Pennsylvania residents a 50 percent break on tuition. And Duquesne, which increased the amount offered in scholarships by about 25 percent last year, is looking at a similar increase this fall.
According to the national Law School Admission Council, law school applications, which peaked at 98,700 in 2003, declined to 59,400 last fall. Council spokeswoman Wendy Margolis said early numbers for this year show law school applications nationwide down 12.6 percent from the same period last year.
The decline is occurring as many law schools reduce and cap the size of incoming classes. New law school graduates face a weak job market and what many see as a glut of lawyers. In Allegheny County, the number of lawyers increased 20 percent during the past decade, from about 7,200 to about 8,700 last year, said Allegheny County Bar Association spokesman Tom Loftus.
Many law schools that sent information to Pitt senior Carolyn Boucek, 21, emphasized their scholarship offers. Boucek, who opted to accept early admission to Cornell's law school, said it was a great year to be an applicant.
Although the Upper St. Clair woman hasn't learned what, if any, aid she will receive from Cornell, she was surprised by the number of schools that sent her recruitment fliers trumpeting new scholarships.
“Obviously that's what happens when the market is squeezed,” Margolis said. “We believe scholarships should be assessed on need, but each school is going to do what it needs to do.”
Charmaine McCall, assistant dean of admissions at Pitt's law school, said about 50 percent of its students received merit scholarships.
“We are expecting an increase. We'd love to have it at 75 percent, but it depends on who applies,” McCall said. Students who receive the new scholarships must maintain a 3.0 grade average to keep them.
Duquesne's law school reduced and capped its class size and began increasing scholarship aid about three years ago to maintain standards, said law school Dean Ken Gormley. He said about 70 percent of Duquesne law students receive scholarships. Those who do get three-year commitments.
Like Pitt's Carter, Gormley said maintaining standards and delivering skilled graduates is key.
“It should not be a battle of PR departments. It should not be a bidding war. We are supposed to be training young men and women to serve others in the practice of the law,” Gormley said.
Debra Erdley is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Scientists dismiss dire outlook for Western Pennsylvania winter weather
- Trial near for Shaler man paralyzed in Pittsburgh police shooting
- Family of Children’s Hospital transplant baby urges feds to change cochlear implants policy
- Toll road system traces roots to Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania Turnpike
- Heavy rain prompts flood advisory for Allegheny, Westmoreland counties
- Bridge inspections, washing to impact Pittsburgh traffic
- Work set for Parkway West
- Obama faces bipartisan criticism over his foreign policy
- Carnegie Mellon grad’s tweak to tweets turns 7
- Attorney General drops charges against ‘upper-level’ heroin dealers, records show
- Newsmaker: Bryant Andrews-Nino