LSAC and LSAT Fee Waiver Score Report Delays

LSAT Blog LSAC Fee Waiver Score Report DelaysSeveral blog readers who requested LSAT fee waivers from LSAC recently contacted me to report delays in receiving their LSAT scores. I've decided to do a post showcasing a few of their stories. My brief comments follow their emails.

Blog reader LK, who took the September LSAT, recently wrote to me with the following (slightly edited for brevity and clarity):
I graduated from college in January. I've spent the last 10 months interning with an international non-profit in Guatemala City. The office is essentially a free law firm for children who have been victims of sexual abuse, and alongside our casework the Guatemalan staff are working to strengthen the public justice system in Guatemala. I'm the oldest child in a large, low-income family in Michigan.

Because I didn't decide until late in the year to apply to schools during this admission cycle, I was behind on most of the things I needed to do before applying. I applied for my fee waiver in early October, after taking the September LSAT. The application for the fee waiver itself was fairly simple. The process began with a short questionnaire, then requested bank and tax records from me and from my parents. LSAC's system was easy enough.

After weeks of anticipation, the day before scores were scheduled to be reported I recieved an email from LSAC saying that my score was available, but I wouldn't be able to see it until LSAC finished reviewing my fee waiver application. When I first found out my LSAT score was delayed, I was understandably upset. I couldn't understand the connection between my score on a test which I had paid for in full and LSAC's review process. I emailed LSAC immediately but they only emailed me back repeating the content of their original email. I had never thought for a second that applying for the fee waiver would affect my ability to know my score; I had seen that it put a hold on my account but didn't realize what that meant.

Finally about a week later LSAC approved my fee waiver request and notified me that my score was available in my account. It caused a lot of tears and frustration and stole a week from me. I hope that won't have a negative impact on my applications but I guess that's yet to be seen. My frustration was increased because I was more or less ready to apply and only waiting to find out how I did on the LSAT. It did mean that I applied later than I wanted to;

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about the whole matter is that the same day this all occurred, I started recieving emails from law schools congratulating me on my "excellent record." I'd love to find out if these were just emails the schools sent to everyone, or if LSAC released my score before I even knew about it.

Obviously, I wish I would have filed the fee waiver request earlier in hopes that it would have been accepted or denied before the score release date. For others looking for a fee waiver, read the conditions carefully. I believe that when I submitted the request I agreed that my account would be put on hold until a decision was made. However, I did not connect an "account hold" with a delay in score reporting and somehow missed reading that fact on LSAC's website. I do believe that, probably unintentionally, LSAC put me, a person in financial need at a disadvantage through this process. However, I'm not sure I could have avoided this situation without previous knowledge of the delayed score release (I needed to submit the fee waiver request in order to move forward with my applications) I think that with more careful timing others can avoid it.

Another blog reader who took the September LSAT shared a similar story:
Not receiving my LSAT score for two weeks was a torturous affair.

Basically, I filled out the fee waiver application online, but the mechanistic formula used by LSAC said I was ineligible because my cash reserves were too large. I had compelling reasons for having a decent amount of money in my account, and similarly good reasons as to why I was unable to use that money for application fees. This was in early October.

Being unemployed and stressed about finances in the week before scores came out, I tried to appeal the decision. Little did I know, clicking "Appeal" initiates the appeal process, with no intermediate steps. I could either fax in a letter to cancel, or send in my documentation. I chose the latter, and my documents were received on Wednesday the 14th.

It was not explicitly stated on the appeal page that I would not receive me score, so when scores came out Friday night, I was quite disappointed to get an email from "LSAC Score" saying that my account was on hold.

I waited and waited, called and called, and got lots of different estimates from LSAC as to when my score would be available. Finally, after two weeks, I sent in a fax to LSAC saying that I desperately needed to cancel my appeal, as a prospective employer, a law firm, wanted to know my September score. The hold on my account was released within 12 hours, and I got an email saying that my appeal had been denied. Whether the decision was in response to my letter, or whether the timing was a coincidence and they had been looking at my file already, I'll never know.

Based on information from law school admissions officers, it seems fair to say that the earlier one applies, the better one's chances. By not releasing scores to applicants going through the appeal process, LSAC's policy has the effect of disadvantaging those with financial need. I have yet to think of a compelling reason why LSAC would withhold scores from people with accounts that are up to date. The best guess that I can make is that LSAC wants to weed out those who would rather get their score than wait out the appeal. The only problem with that explanation is that LSAC explicitly told me that once documentation is received, appeals cannot be canceled.

I'm still struggling to pay my application fees, and am applying to less than half the schools I wanted to.

Overall the ordeal set me back a full two weeks in my application process. I am writing rather specific essays for each school, and until I knew my score, it was impossible to target individual institutions. Also, some of my recommenders preferred to know my score before submitting their letters.

Why would anyone apply for a fee waiver with all this potential stress?

Reason #1:

You get free stuff worth a few hundred dollars.

LSAC says:
Each approved LSAC fee waiver will entitle you to:

* two LSATs (test dates must fall within the two-year waiver period);
* one registration for LSAC's Credential Assembly Service (LSDAS), which includes the Letter of Recommendation Service and access to electronic applications for all LSAC-member law schools;
* four law school reports
–included with the Credential Assembly Service (LSDAS), available only after final approval of an LSAC fee waiver;
* one copy of the Official LSAT SuperPrep®.

Value of each free thing you get:

2 LSAT Registrations - $132/LSAT registration x 2 = $264

Registration for Credential Assembly Service (LSDAS) = $121

4 Law School Reports - $12/report x 4 = $48

Copy of the Official LSAT SuperPrep book = $18

Total savings from LSAC if you take the LSAT once: $132 + $121 + $48 + 18 = $319
Total savings from LSAC if you take the LSAT twice: $264 + $121 + $48 + 18 = $451

(Note that a Test Day cancellation will count as 1 of the 2 free fee waivers, but a Test Day absence will not. More on cancellations vs. absences after missing the postponement deadline in Cancel, Postpone, or Absence?)

Reason #2:

Many law schools automatically grant application fee waivers to anyone approved for a fee waiver from LSAC. This has the potential to save you hundreds of dollars, depending upon the number of schools to which you apply. (Of course, you may qualify for law school application fee waivers even if you don't qualify for an LSAC fee waiver. However, an LSAC fee waiver simplifies the process for you.)

Reason #3:

You might unexpectedly qualify for a fee waiver.

LSAC refuses to disclose its guidelines for who it considers worthy of a fee waiver. This *may* indicate that its top-secret guidelines are nonexistent, subjective, or holistic. If you think you may have a shot at fitting their secret definition of "extreme need," you have little to lose by applying.

Lessons learned from LSAC and LSAT Score Report Delays:

If you're submitting a fee waiver, submit it early - ideally, far in advance of taking the LSAT. Make sure you promptly submit all relevant documents that they request. If you don't get the fee waiver taken care of early, it might prevent you from applying as early as you'd like and hurt your chances of admission.

Statistics on Fee Waivers

I found the following information in an LSAC PowerPoint presentation from 2009. I assume these figures are for a one-year period:
Approximately 11,000 requests (for fee waivers)
97% (are submitted) online
62% are approved
Tax documents must be sent within 45 days
1000 appeals, 39% (of appeals are) approved

Further Reading:

LSAC (how to apply for a fee waiver)

UMass Pre-Law Blog (a few years old, but contains info from LSAC about score release holds)


Have you applied for a fee waiver? If so, what was your experience like? Anything similar to those described in the emails posted above?

Photo by 14687859@N00


  1. i'm sorry because i'm not sure where this should be posted...but has anyone noticed that in PrepTest20, section 4, #14, the correct answer choice is worded incorrectly?? or am i just missing something??

    "It concludes that one thing was caused by another although the evidence given is consistent with the first thing's having caused the second."

    does that look wrong to anyone else?

  2. i can't believe i just now found this blog! i've been cramming like crazy for the lsat in december, and this could've helped a lot. after doing some reviews today, i'm definitely reading this thoroughly. thanks!!!

  3. OH MAN I totally should have called you earlier this week-- I took the test this morning but fell asleep - my grandmother is dying - I called and asked if I could resched and they told me it was too like and I if I didn't show up I just forfeit -- because I'm on a fee waiver but now I read that's NOT true I could have NOT showed up and still had my 2 test -- so my question is do I cancel my score or just see what I got -- since I already lost it -- I mean I finished but I KNOW I didn't do it to the best of my ability even without the nap