I will be the first person in my immediate family to go to law school or to even attempt so. To say that I’m scared and frustrated is an understatement. I started my LSAT journey with absolutely no idea what to expect and with no real mentors on how to navigate the process. Aside from the LSAT, there are so many other things they don’t tell you about, including the law school application process or even tips on how to take the LSAT.
Did you know you can only take the LSAT three times in a one-year period? (A one-year period is June 1 to May 31.) Testing limits is something I understand, but somehow the concept of only being able to take the LSAT three times in one year (if I so choose) is scary because it only means that I have three tries to get the score I want in that time period.
Coming from a working-class family, paying a $200 fee per test is difficult. Not to mention the fact that most schools require a $45 fee to receive and consider your Law School Report on top of paying $195 to use the Credential Assembly Service to send your Law School Report. If you didn’t do the math on that, just taking the LSAT once and sending it to three different schools amounts to $530.
So if you come from a similar background, you’ll want to apply for a LSAT Fee Waiver. The LSAT Fee Waiver waives the fees for two tests in a two-year period, the Credential Assembly Service fee as well as the costs associated with sending schools your Law School Report. This is really nice and I’m appreciative of this service, but again, there’s something they don’t often mention about this.
If you plan to take your LSAT in — let’s say, August — you’d have to apply for the fee waiver a month before you sign up for the test. Test sign ups are usually required a month in advance, so that means you’d have to apply for an LSAT Fee Waiver two months before you take your test. And when applying for the LSAT Fee Waiver, it’ll be an online form you have to fill out. Make sure to pay really close attention to everything you put in because it’s calculated by a formula and not looked at by a person.
When they denied my request for an LSAT Fee Waiver, I thought I was done for. I honestly can’t really afford to dish out $530, especially when I needed to also buy practice books for the LSAT on top of any other materials for my undergrad classes. But if this happens to you, don’t give up. You have the opportunity to challenge the decision they’ve made, and make sure to provide everything possible that shows that you need this LSAT Fee Waiver. You’ll have to upload a copy of your or your parents’ Tax Returns, but send more than that. I would recommend also sending a copy of your FAFSA Student Aid Report if you think that will help your case.
To give you an idea, they flagged my application for an LSAT Fee Waiver because my savings were too high. But what I failed to read when first applying was that they wanted me to exclude any money that I had gotten as a result of scholarship returns (which is all of my savings), so I attached a copy of my school’s financial aid report showing that the majority of the money in my savings was from scholarships.
I would also recommend writing an Appeal Letter to explain the reason why your application was flagged shouldn’t prevent you from getting an LSAT Fee Waiver. Here is an outline of what I wrote:
To Whom It May Concern:
I would like to respectfully contest the decision to reject my application for an LSAT fee waiver. I understand that I may have been previously rejected based on the fact that… But…
I have attached… I appreciate your time and further consideration in this matter.
The LSAT is difficult to navigate when it comes to applying for it, and even applying for the LSAT Fee Waiver, but don’t let this deter you. It sucks that there are so many barriers when it comes to law school, but it’s up to people like us to share the “secrets” and help each other out.