I'm about to take the LSAT in a couple of weeks and have a question that I've been curious about for a while. A few facts about me:
-BA from second-tier state school, 3.3 GPA (would be higher except for several expired incompletes).
-MA from Harvard with 3.5ish GPA (stopped after five years of a PhD program and decided not to complete dissertation...on good terms with department, expect good recommendations...I just didn't see many job opportunities in my field and decided best to cut my losses and leave). My GPA would be higher except that I took a bunch of non-required courses and took B's in them from not doing homework, etc. I didn't really care about my GPA because at the time I assumed no one was ever going to see it.
-Several national conference presentations...a couple of articles being prepared for publication but nothing in print yet.
-I have $70-80K of debt (mainly from undergrad years but about $10 from grad school and a lot in interest from private loans)
Here's the question. I'm practicing at about LSAT 174-177. I expect to do quite well. However, because my undergrad GPA is relatively low I know I won't get big scholarships at top 20 schools. I'm applying to a private school ranked in the 20's and a public school ranked in the 30's. I doubt I'll get enough aid to offset the enormous scholarship of the school in the 20's, though I'm sure I'll get in and get SOME scholarship.
The big question is about the public school in the 30's. Since I can get into much higher-ranked schools, will they see me with a LSAT in the mid 170's as being a bad investment and not offer me a good aid package on the assumption that I wouldn't attend?
I really want to attend the state school in the 30's because I'd have in-state tuition and could live with my mother...and I just can't afford to go another $70-80K in debt.
Any advice, thoughts? Perhaps I'm overrating my attractiveness as a candidate and they won't actually think I'm too good for them given my undergrad GPA...I'd actually prefer that but have no idea what to expect. I'm sure they'll want me but I also want them to think that I'm a good investment for merit-based aid.