Yale Law School to pay tuition, waive certain fees for low-income students

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Yale Law School announced it will be waiving tuition costs for certain students, in the name of diversity.

Students from families whose incomes fall below the federal poverty line are slated to receive a scholarship of about $72,000, which covers tuition, health insurance, and various other fees, reported Fox Business. Living expenses, which Yale anticipates will be around $21,000 for 2022, will not be covered.

The official poverty line for 2022, according to the federal government, is $27,750 for a family of four. Yale estimates that approximately 8-10 percent of the current student body would be eligible for the new fund, which is going to be named the Hurst Horizon Scholarship.

This move is not wholly unique or unprecedented. Other wealthy US schools have also instituted programs in which undergraduates from the poorest families pay no tuition or other school expenses. Even medical schools have begun to offer coverage of various expenses, including full tuition, for the poorest students.

Graduate students, on the other hand, are frequent borrowers of tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, regardless of the field of study or its prospects for helping them pay back said loans. Graduates are able to borrow up to the entire cost of their education, and the Grad Plus loan program is the fastest-growing federal student loan program, Fox Business reported. This is in contrast to undergraduates, who are far more limited on how much money they can borrow from federal programs.

An average of $93,000 in loans was taken out by graduates at public law schools in 2020, versus an average of $134,000 for those in private law schools, according to the records of Law School Transparency, a consumer advocacy group. In 2021, roughly 73 percent of students at Yale Law School were receiving scholarships, at an average rate of $29,361. The class of 2020 had each borrowed approximately $135,000 on average.

The reason for the change was to improve diversity, according to Yale Law School Dean Heather Gerken. She proudly pointed to the fact that one in four first-year law students currently enrolled there is the first of their family to attend higher education. Over half the class is now made of “people of color,” compared to 32 percent for the years between 2006 and 2016.

The racial groups most likely to possess higher grade-point averages and other metrics of scholastic promise are whites and Asians, and so Yale has turned away from them in order to embrace other “people of color,” to the point that the Department of Justice once ordered Yale to stop discriminating against white and Asian applicants in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Yale is joining a relatively small number of law schools that routinely offer poverty-based scholarships, out of the 200 law schools accredited in the US. The greater incentive is usually to offer scholarships based on grades and test scores, regardless of financial need, in order to attract students most likely to boost a school’s rankings and prestige.

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