May 13, 2016 – University of Houston Law Center Dean Leonard M. Baynes advocated for more clarity and more emphasis on the whole student when law schools make scholarship decisions. His comments were part of a panel discussion at the 2016 Fifth Circuit Judicial Conference on Wednesday at the J.W. Marriot in the Galleria area.
Baynes indicated more law schools were engaged in "tuition discounting," which affords merit scholarships to students with the highest entry credentials, often leaving out students from low-income families from financial aid. Law schools have increasingly tied the retention of the scholarship to the performance after the first year of law school. These scholarships are called "competitive renewal scholarships." If a student fails to perform at the top of a class, the scholarship could be lost.
"There have been some abuses in these programs and sometimes the students weren't as aware or informed that the scholarship could be lost as they should be," Baynes said.
Baynes said this needed to be communicated better to students.
Baynes joined five other law school deans who participated in the panel discussion. They included Baylor Law School Dean Bradley J.B. Toben, Mississippi College School of Law Dean Wendy B. Scott, Texas Tech Law School Dean Darby Dickerson, and Tulane Law School Dean David Meyer. The panel was led by Judge Royal Ferguson Jr., Dean of the UNT Dallas College of Law.
Additional topics included annual law school rankings, diversity in legal education, student loan debt, and the mental health of law school students.