Citing its commitment to need-blind admissions and need-based financial aid, Harvard Law School will no longer collect deposits from admitted students who accept an admissions offer beginning with the Class of 2017, according to Assistant Dean and Chief Admissions Officer Jessica L. Soban ’02.
In previous years, the Law School required a $500 deposit, a standard feature of the admissions process at nearly all other law schools across the country, though precise dollar amounts may vary. This deposit is currently credited towards the student’s tuition, which totalled $52,350 for the 2013-2014 school year.
This change will apply to all future admitted classes, including members of the Harvard College Class of 2015, who will be participating in the first cycle of a pilot program in which admitted students will work for two years following college graduation before entering the Law School.
“While some applicants can absorb sending the $500 deposit, for other applicants it can pose a burden,” Soban said. “There have been several occasions when people have requested reduced deposit fees for reasons varying from being an undergrad without an income source to working in a non-profit or public interest position where $500 represents a significant amount of their monthly income.”
Although the Law School has allowed exceptions on a case-by-case basis for students who cannot afford the deposit, Soban said that admissions officers are concerned about other students who could have benefitted from not paying the fee but never asked.
Soban said that she is not concerned that the policy change will prompt students to reserve a space and later decide not to enroll.
“People entering law school are coming into a profession where reputation and commitment are highly valued,” she said. “We have found that people who tell us they are enrolling, generally do enroll. If they make a different choice later, the fact that they had put down a deposit with us does not weigh in the decision.”
Furthermore, Soban said this change will remove “an unnecessary complication” from the Law School’s admissions process.
“Over the past few years, we’ve been looking for additional ways to personalize and simplify the admissions experience for applicants—through things like our interview process—and this is just one more step in that direction,” Soban said.
Last fall, the Law School began to interview candidates through the video-conferencing software Skype, interviewing 1,200 applicants in the most recent cycle.
—Staff writer Dev A. Patel can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @dev_a_patel.
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