How can I afford to apply to so many law schools?

I try to convince my students to apply to 30 law schools.  Those that follow my advice almost always end up with lots of offers of admission, and very frequently they end up with scholarship money as well.  Those that don't follow my advice get fewer offers of admission, and little to no scholarship money.  It's as simple as that. Applying to 30 law schools can be costly--on the order of $3,000.  But you must view this expense in light of the $150,000 bomb that you're about to drop on law school.  If three grand gets you a $150,000 scholarship, then that's obviously a good investment.  As a matter of fact, if three grand has even a slight chance of winning you a $150,000 scholarship, it's still a good bet.  So save your pennies, max out your credit cards if you have to, and apply broadly.  You can thank me later.

And if you really can't scrape up the money for those applications, you might have another route.  Welcome to the magical world of fee waivers.

Here's what I recommend:

1)  Whether or not you think you'll qualify, it doesn't hurt to apply for LSAC's fee waiver.  You can find information and an application for LSAC's waiver program here.  Many schools will automatically give you an application fee waiver if you qualify for LSAC's program, so this could be the golden ticket.  Throw in an app and see what happens.

2)  Check "yes, share my information" when you sign up for the LSAT.  If you let LSAC share your information, you'll immediately start getting "please apply to our school--for free!" solicitations from random schools.  Yes, it's junk mail.  But it's junk mail that can save you some serious cash.  You might not have been considering going to law school in Ohio, but if you get a solicitation to apply for free to some random school in Ohio, why wouldn't you give it a look?  What's the worst that could happen--they admit you and offer you a full ride?  That sounds like a good problem to have.

3)  Ask the schools individually.  The Pre-Law Advising Center at the University of Hawai'i Manoa has put together this bitchin' spreadsheet containing fee waiver information for 195 law schools.  Even if you didn't qualify for the LSAC fee waiver program, some of the schools you're intending to apply to might have their own waiver program.  Some schools probably give a waiver to anybody who asks for one--you'll never know until you try.

Whatever you do, get started now.  The law school admissions process always takes longer than you think.  The earlier you start, and the more broadly you cast your net, the better your chances for both admission and scholarships.