All scholarships are per year.
Ok so I am posting this on 8/7/2018. I never made an account or posted updates as I got acceptances because I was scared that schools might be looking here. Although in retrospect my fears were most likely unwarranted. I am posting now because I want the information to be available to others. I spent many hours here and none of this would be possible unless others before me had included their information. I will try to be as accurate as possible, but much of this happened many months ago. Anyway, I think you'll find what I write here to be more helpful than anything. My grades weren't the best, and I applied extremely late in the cycle, but I think my cycle went very well anyway. Here we go ~
Like I said I applied very late in the cycle. Mid April. The reason I applied so late was because I asked for letters of rec super late, and then one of the people I asked for a letter of rec took a super long time to finish it. Please ask for letters several months in advance. I don't want anyone to go through what I did haha.
My first lsat score was a 154 and the second time I took it I got a 155. I was PT'ing much higher, but I wasn't willing to take another gap year before law school.
Fee waivers. I applied to ~24 schools. Some may say that is overkill, but I don't think so. There's a lot of schools in my area (New York) and the school I'm attending wasn't even in my top 5 or even top 10. Mostly because I thought it would be way too expensive, but after weighing up all my scholarships and visiting my top choices it ended up being reasonable and my favorite school that I visited by far.
When you apply to 20+ schools you are going to spend quite a bit on applications. From my experience every single school I asked for a fee waiver granted me one. I was scared to ask for fee waivers until I was visiting a school, sitting down with the dean of admissions, and she told me exactly what to write in the email. She said to keep it brief and to the point, something along the lines of "Hi, my name is X, my lsat score is X and my GPA is X and I am interested in applying to your school. Would you consider granting me a fee waiver?" It worked. Pretty sure I got a fee waiver for every one I applied to. Even if my scores were below their 50th percentile for both LSAT and GPA.
One interesting that I think not many people know about is that schools can see whether you have deposited at a school after a certain date. I believe sometime in mid May? Anyway I had deposited to Rutgers even though it wasn't my top choice because the date to deposit was up and my top choice hadn't gotten back to me yet. After depositing many schools that I thought were near 100% for me started waitlisting me, or even rejecting me outright.
Some schools like Touro got back to me within 2-3 days. The problem with that becomes that once you are accepted they generally give you a few weeks to put down your deposit. And many schools will take over a month to get back to you at all. So my deposit deadline for some schools was nearing while I hadn't heard back from many of my top choices. This puts you in a bad spot since you don't want to deposit and lose that money, but if you don't deposit and you get rejected from the latter schools then you are screwed. Anyway, if I was to apply again I would apply to the hardest schools first, since those generally take longer to hear back, and the easy schools I would apply to a couple weeks later.
Anyway after getting into a school I preferred to Rutgers they actually refunded my deposit, without me even asking, which was very cool of them.
Another reason to apply broadly is you never know how much scholarship money you might get from a school. A school that costs $50k per semester might give you a 35k scholarship while a school that costs $20k might give you no scholarship at all. And because of this the 50k school is now cheaper than the 20k school.
Also some schools may give you a stipulation, like you have to stay within the top 50% of your law school class or you will lose your scholarship. I find this to be an extremely predatory practice that screws people over, especially since your entire grade in law school is based on 1 single test usually, and a bad day or getting sick can drop you below the 50% threshold very easily, causing you to lose your scholarship. Imagine having a 40k scholarship to a 50k school. You plan to spend 10k/year but after losing your scholarship you are now on the hook for the full 50. This can turn law school into a nightmare very quickly.
Also do your research. Many schools offer scholarships for in state students. For those of you in New York, Syracuse University offers 20k/year off tuition if you are in state, and Albany law offers $18k/year off their 45k tuition if you attended a SUNY school undergrad. Other schools like Buffalo are cheap to begin with ($25k) so these other schools are dropping their prices to compete.
Also, be sure you ask your school because some schools like Rutgers (New Jersey) will give you in state tuition very easily so long as you are living in state while you attend. Rutgers even went so far as to say that if I wasn't able to establish residency 30 days prior to school starting they would increase my scholarship to match in state tuition. This meant Rutgers would cost me 25k-ish and made it a very competitive option but to someone that doesn't know that they might think they have to pay out of state which is a lot more.
The only 2 schools not on my list since I couldn't find them were Buffalo and Penn State. I got rejected from Penn State and accepted to Buffalo with a 12k scholarship. Since Buffalo is already cheap (25k) this made it 13k/year which made it a top contender for me.
Regarding waitlists. If you are waitlisted to a school and don't send a Letter of continued intent (LOCI) there's basically a 100% chance you won't get accepted. However, if you do write a LOCI and you are later accepted off the waitlist it's unlikely you will get a very good scholarship offer. You will most likely pay sticker if you want to attend.
After you apply you will get a username and password to a site that lets you check the status of your application (status checker). You can log in every 6 hours and check it but that's unhealthy, plus every school I was accepted to sent me an email when my application status changed, so don't go crazy, just wait for the email. Setting up a username and password for each status checker (24 schools) was such a waste of time and energy.
I'm just about done but I guess I'll talk about my top choices and how they changed, and where I am attending. My top choices originally were Albany and Brooklyn. The $18k/year scholarship from Albany applied to me because I attended a SUNY school undergrad. Albany offered me $21k/year, but the scholarships don't stack so you get the higher of the 2. $21k off 45 meant it would cost me $24k a year to attend.
Like I said earlier I deposited at Rutgers although they offered me no scholarship money, they offer everyone in state tuition. So I would pay around $25k/year to attend. They are ranked 71st however rankings aren't everything, and visiting all my accepted schools altered my opinion quite a bit. Although Rutgers was nice, actually one of the nicer schools I visited, the surrounding area (Newark) isn't great. Also, the vibe of the area doesn't feel like a campus because the undergrad Rutgers population lives in New Brunswick, not Newark. The Rutgers Newark campus is only for the law and business schools, so the area doesn't have the same campus feel with lots of young people and a good social scene. Although it probably shouldn't this definitely factored into my decision. I greatly prefer schools that have real campuses and the undergrads mixed in since it creates a college-ey vibe. Being 23, and only a year out of school, I miss the camaraderie of undergrad and the scene, and although I doubt I'll have free time to go out and drink as a law student, it's nice to have the option.
And finally. The sleeper. Syracuse University. I will be moving in soon, and I couldn't be more excited. As I said earlier it wasn't even a the top of my list because I thought it would end up being way too expensive. At 50k sticker I couldn't imagine going. However last year they made it so all new york residents get 20k off, and after renegotiating my scholarship they offered me 25k. Comparing my top choices of Albany at 21k, Buffalo at 13k, Rutgers at 25k, and Syracuse at 25k, it then came down to visiting. I visited all of them except Buffalo. Although I did use my buffalo offer to negotiate with Syracuse. It doesn't hurt to ask, and I believe schools leave room for negotiation in their offer. Even if you don't think you "deserve" to negotiate because your LSAT/GPA is on the lower end of the spectrum, nothing bad can happen, all they can say is no, and the 5k extra I negotiated for is $15k over 3 years. That's a lot of money.
After visiting Syracuse it was a no brainer. They recently built an entirely new 100 million dollar school and it's magnificent. Especially compared to some of the other schools I've visited (St. Johns) where I immediately couldn't see myself living there. The law building should be taken into account, and so should the surrounding area. Schools like Rutgers that don't share a campus with their undergrad, and schools like Albany who aren't even related to their counterpart (UAlbany) made them much less desirable to me.
The last thing I'll add is regarding the character and fitness portion of law school applications. They will ask if you've ever been in trouble with the law, or with your school, and to write a statement regarding the incident. I had a couple things to put down, and I stressed majorly about them, but it turns out the schools don't really care, especially about minor crimes. My legal related incident was getting caught with a fake ID, and my school related incident was shooting off fireworks in the school quad. I wrote a short, concise, and to the point statement of maybe 3-4 sentences explaining what happened, and based on the outcome of my cycle I don't believe it had any effect on whether or not schools accepted me. Schools only seem to care about your LSAT and GPA. Your LSAT and GPA probably accounts for 70% and 25% respectively. Personal statement, letters of recommendation, and your undergrad school might make up the remaining 5%.
So that's what I've learned. Sorry for the rant, but I hope someone finds this information valuable, and if anyone has questions feel free to comment. Good luck!