Last week, I hosted a webinar after a gap of more than two years which must be some sort of record for the Zoom Era that we live in. Focusing on the financial aspects of a US LLM, the webinar had Harvard Law School LLM grad Megha Mehta take us through several important, and yet overlooked, topics related to funding a US LLM.
I personally thought the webinar was quite interesting for two reasons: one, the content was the kind that really needs to be discussed more openly, and two, I got to learn. Which is always a good thing.
In this post, one with a headline that takes me right back to good ole Buzzfeed, I share four of these learnings.
When it comes to financial aid, negotiate hard. And with numbers.
One of the biggest takeaways from the webinar came when the talk veered to renegotiating the quantum of aid that a law school offers. While I won’t go into the specifics, the underlying message was that you, the LLM applicant, must make the argument that without the aid, the admission offer can not be accepted.
It really boils down to this.
Also, it helps if you can back your request with numbers. For instance, provide details as to how much financial support your family can provide, or the percentage of current savings you can utilize on tuition.
Conversations about finance can get awkward. But don’t avoid them.
I personally think this awkwardness stems from Indian culture but whatever may be the reason, the fact of the matter is that discussing money can entail uncomfortable conversations. Especially when the LLM is being funded by one’s family.
Failure to hold these discussions though, can have disastrous consequences.
Take the example of the parent(s) who has pledged financial support without fully understanding the complete costs of the US LLM. Or perhaps failed to consider the volatility of exchange rates – what happens then? What impact could this on professional and personal relationships during the LLM as well as after the course is completed?
Bottomline? Have that conversation. Have it now.
Financial planning can be terribly boring
I don’t think there is any other way to put it.
Right from choosing which currency to take an education loan in, to calculating the tenure of interest payments, to identifying if the school’s health insurance covers dental to choosing the best bank to open an account with – all of these require some level of research and/or number crunching.
Which, to a lot of people, can come across as intimidating or boring or a bit of both.
But, like a lot of life, there are no real shortcuts to success here. So, invest some time and effort in the research. The results will be worth it.
Law Schools (and LLM candidates) need to be more transparent with quantum of aid
This is more of a wishlist item rather than anything else. I understand that law schools simply might not be able to disclose the quantum of aid that they offer to each and every candidate.
But they certainly could provide a bit more information than is currently shared. For instance, the number of successful LLM admissions (ie those who joined the program) that were offered aid.
Equally important is LLM candidates being a bit more upfront about the quantum of aid offered. Ideally, this information would be up on the law school website. This would not only help corroborate each side’s claims, but also give prospective applicants some useful and much-needed information rather than rely on heresy and/or their own social networks.