Yale Law School Announces Tuition-Free Scholarships for Highest Need Students
The Hurst Horizon Scholarship Program expands the Law School’s robust financial aid offerings to level the playing field for students with significant financial need
For decades, Yale Law School has been a leader in need-based financial aid, working to ensure every student has the chance to pursue a legal education regardless of their financial circumstances. Today, Dean Heather K. Gerken announced that the Law School will strengthen its commitment to this mission through the creation of the Soledad ’92 and Robert Hurst Horizon Scholarship Program, which will erase tuition for J.D. students with the greatest financial need.
Yale Law School is allocating significant funding to launch the program this fall, providing approximately 45–50 full-tuition scholarships to eligible J.D. students. Students who meet the financial requirements will automatically receive the scholarship, starting with the Classes of 2023, 2024, and 2025 and continuing into the future. Thanks to the incredible generosity of Soledad ’92 and Robert Hurst, David ’78 and Patricia Nierenberg, and Gene ’73 and Carol Ludwig, the Law School is also able to endow the program, ensuring that future YLS students will benefit from this life-changing initiative for generations to come.
“The Hurst Horizon Scholarship Program will free students with the greatest need from financial worry during law school and open up a world of possibilities so that they can be a powerful force for change in society.”
— Dean Heather K. Gerken
“We are committed to opening our doors to the students who have the most to gain from this School and the most to give to the world, regardless of their means,” said Gerken. “I am thrilled that we are able to make this extraordinary addition to a financial aid system that is already best-in-class. The Hurst Horizon Scholarship Program will free students with the greatest need from financial worry during law school and open up a world of possibilities so that they can be a powerful force for change in society.”
Yale Law School is one of only two law schools in the country to provide aid based exclusively on financial need, and 73 percent of students received scholarship grants in the 2020–2021 academic year. As a result of these extensive financial aid programs, Yale Law students graduate with the lowest debt load among all of its peer schools. The Hurst Horizon Scholarship Program builds upon these comprehensive financial aid offerings to adapt to changing student needs. Since 2016, the Law School has admitted the six most diverse classes in its history. In the Class of 2024, more than a quarter of the student body is the first in their family to attend graduate or professional school and approximately one in six is the first in their family to graduate from college.
The Hurst Horizon Scholarship Program will be given to J.D. students whose family income is below the federal poverty guidelines and whose assets are below $150,000. Students who qualify will be awarded more than $70,000 per year to cover the cost of tuition, fees, and health insurance. In 2021, the Law School began awarding an annual $4,000 Horizon Grant to students meeting these criteria to supplement existing financial aid. Now, just one year later, students with a similar level of financial need will attend Yale Law School tuition-free.
“Our highest need students face significant financial hardships and lack an economic safety net to fall back on,” said Miriam Ingber ’04, Associate Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Yale Law School. “Even with significant need-based financial aid awards and our loan repayment program, the financial burden for these students weighs heavily, and many students fear debt knowing that they are responsible for their families’ financial well-being as well as their own. This new program is a critical step forward for the Law School, and we hope it will transform the academic experience for our Hurst Horizon Scholars.”
Dean Gerken expressed gratitude to the founding donors of the program who made this important moment possible and noted that her administration is committed to expanding the Hurst Horizon Scholarship Program during her second term as Dean. An ongoing fundraising campaign is underway to further build out the program with the goal of expanding the eligibility requirements in the future to reach more students.
“These extraordinary leaders have made an investment that will change the lives of generations of students. I am humbled by their commitment to this School and our students,” said Gerken. “I look forward to working with our community to grow this important program in the years to come. This is only the beginning.”
The Hurst Horizon Scholarship Program comes several months after Yale Law School announced the launch of The Tsai Leadership Program, which seeks to redefine the future of legal education by providing a modernized curriculum and professional training and mentorship opportunities for students. Together, the newest programs are designed to expand access to Yale Law School and ensure every student can benefit from the rich academic experience, robust resources, and powerful mentorship opportunities available as they find their path and embark on meaningful careers.
“At Yale Law School, we prepare lawyers and leaders to face the most critical challenges of the future and effect change across every sector of society,” said Gerken. “We are committed to ensuring every student can fully immerse themselves in our vibrant intellectual experience and has the tools and resources they need to leave their mark on the world. The Hurst Horizon Scholarship Program cements our commitment to access and equity for all.”
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