« on: October 28, 2008, 03:57:57 PM »
I've kind of taken a different view on fee waivers. I think schools varying in ranks use them for different reasons.
Top tier schools are definitely more likely to use them to entice candidates to apply and subsequently reject them, thus boosting their rankings. Presumably, if you can get into the T5 or T6 by LSAT or GPA that is where you will apply and a fee waiver is not going to do much for a school. So, if you're getting them from a T14 school with a great GPA and mediocre LSAT, I think that is their plan with you.
However, if you're receiving them from schools in your target range (and we still don't know if they know both your LSAT and GPA or just one or the other) I think they're more likely to be a good sign. Anywhere I got a waiver in my target range subsequently accepted me. They were typically schools that are not the most "popular" in their respective range and want to entice students to consider them when you would not have considered applying there previously. Its not a definite acceptance or definite scholarship in the making; but its a reasonable way to attract qualified students who might not otherwise apply.
If you're receiving them from safety schools (again, with a grain of salt since we don't know what they know about your GPA/LSAT) I think these are usually an effort to catch students with good credentials who might want to sell out for money in fear of massive debt, etc. They can attract some highly qualified people who are risk averse who might not have considered applying otherwise.
This is probably putting too much into the mouth of adcomms, but I think there is more strategy to the schools sending them than purely random mailing. They're not targeted to you individually of course but based on certain objectives and depending on the quality/rank of school, these objectives will vary. HTH somewhat.