Law schools around the United States offer the option of deferment to applicants who have been accepted to the school but, for some reason, cannot join right away. Since there is a significant gap between the day you receive your acceptance letter and the first day of classes, your personal circumstances might change. Depending on the circumstances, you may want to consider deferring your enrollment to the next year. But what, exactly, does deferment entail?
Read on as we take a closer look at law school deferments and how you can defer your admission.
How to Defer Your Law School Admission
When a law school applicant receives an acceptance letter from a particular school, they can request the school to delay their official induction by one year or more, depending on their reasons for deferment.
If a student’s deferment application is accepted, they may be required to follow a series of steps to ensure that the school will keep their seat for future enrollment. These steps include:
- Submitting a seat deposit.
- Signing a commitment to the school.
- Withdrawing your applications from all other law schools.
If your deferment application is processed successfully, you will not be allowed to apply to other schools. Failure to commit to your binding agreement is a direct violation of your deferment contract and can jeopardize your legal career. If you decide to not join the school altogether, you will likely forfeit your seat deposit.
Not all law schools are equally receptive to deferment applications. While some might accommodate students if their reasons for deferment are valid, others might not entertain their requests at all. Besides the specific law school policy, factors like the length of the student waiting list and the strength of your application profile also impact the school’s decision to accept or reject your deferment request. Most law schools grant deferments of one year to applicants, depending on their school’s admissions policy.
Grounds for Deferment
Your request for deferment is likely to be accepted if it has a sound basis. Most law schools grant deferment requests for unforeseen circumstances, including medical conditions, familial emergencies, military placement, etc. For unusual circumstances, the admissions department of the law school might allow you to delay your enrollment until your situation has been resolved.
[Read more: How to write a perfect deferment request]
Law schools also tend to offer leeway to students interested in deferring their admission due to receiving a rare academic or professional opportunity that might benefit the law school indirectly. A fellowship might not only be a valid reason for deferment; it might also enhance your potential future career in law, and thus reflect well on the deferral-granting institution.
Your request is likely to be accepted by the law school if the reason is sudden and your request is brief. If you seek deferment for a family emergency, you may be allowed to delay your enrollment temporarily, so that you might successfully resolve your personal issues and return to continue your education.
Other Factors Affecting Your Deferment
Since you sign a binding contract with the law school to obtain deferment for a year or more, you might have to compromise in terms of financial aid offers and other merit aid. Additionally, if you are an international student seeking deferment, you might have to deal with extra complications regarding living in the United States if you are not actively enrolled at the law school.
While it usually only makes sense for students to defer in case of emergencies, some law schools also allow students to declare their interest in deferring in their application to the school. Some law schools offer specially-designed deferred admission programs for students who aim for post-graduate education.
Requesting Your Law School for a Deferral
If you are accepted to a law school but are interested in deferring till a later date, you can check your law school acceptance letter or contact the law school admissions office to obtain more information on the school’s deferral policy. Similarly, it is also advisable to check with the school if any scholarships or financial aid will transfer with your deferral if your deferment application is accepted.
If the law school rejects your request for a deferral, you still have the option to enroll for your original term. You also have the option to withdraw your application from the school and reapply at a later date, depending on your circumstances. It is advisable to refresh your application in case you choose to reapply next year.