Gates Public Service Scholarship Program FAQ
Can the Gates Public Service Law Scholarship be used at other universities?
No. The Gates PSL Scholarship is awarded only to students who enroll in the JD program at the University of Washington School of Law.
If I’m not sure which law school I want to attend, can I still apply for the Gates PSL Scholarship?
In order to be considered for a Gates PSL Scholarship, you must be accepted into the JD program at the UW Law and have submitted a separate application for the scholarship. You’ll be considered for the scholarship, but if you’re accepted by the UW Law and decline to attend, you’ll no longer be eligible for the scholarship.
If I applied for the Gates PSL Scholarship last year and deferred enrollment, do I need to reapply for the scholarship?
Yes. You must complete and submit a new application for the Gates PSL Scholarship.
Will I receive confirmation from the UW Law that my Gates PSL Scholarship application has arrived?
Yes. After the Gates PSL Scholarship Program Office has received your scholarship application, we’ll send you an email confirmation. We’ll also inform you if your application is missing any items.
Should I fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?
Yes by January 15. Even if you’re applying for the Gates PSL Scholarship, we recommend that you also complete and submit a FAFSA. Once your FAFSA has been received, the Office of Student Financial Aid will determine whether you’re eligible to receive other financial assistance in the event you aren’t awarded a Gates PSL Scholarship.
Do I need to write and submit a separate essay for the Gates PSL Scholarship in addition to the personal statement that’s part of my application for the JD program at the UW Law?
Yes. A separate essay, not to exceed 700 words in length, is a required part of the Gates PSL Scholarship application. In your essay, you should discuss the factors that have shaped your vision and influenced your commitment to public service.
Can I use the same recommenders for the Gates PSL Scholarship as I did in my application for the JD program at the UW Law?
Recommendations for your Gates PSL Scholarship application can be from the same people, but it’s a good idea to make sure that your recommenders highlight your commitment to public service and potential for contributing to it.
The Gates PSL Scholarship application requires a résumé with details of public service experience. Should the résumé include my education, work experience, etc., or just my public service experience?
The résumé should include all your experiences: education, work and public service. This will help the members of the Gates PSL Scholarship Selection Committee to get a better sense of what you would bring to the program. If you wish to use your résumé from your JD application, indicate that on your Gates Application.
Is there an age limit for applicants?
No. As long as you are eligible to be admitted to the JD program you are eligible for consideration for the Gates PSL Scholarship Program, regardless of your age.
Will my Gates PSL Scholarship application be reviewed even though my JD application is still under review?
The Admissions Office makes every effort to provide a decision to Gates PSL Scholarship applicants so that their application is not held up and can move forward in the process. If there are extenuating circumstances that the Admissions Office cannot proceed with your JD application, they will work with the candidate to resolve the issue.
Selection and Interviews
How does the Gates PSL Scholarship selection process work?
The selection process is confidential and has four stages:
- The UW Law renders a decision into the JD program and identifies the admitted students to move forward with the Gates PSL Scholarship process;
- A Review Committee, consisting of UW Law faculty and the Executive Director of the Gates PSL Scholarship Program, reviews the Gates PSL Scholarship applications of those admitted students and selects approximately 50 applicants for the semifinal round. Those files are then sent to the Gates PSL Scholarship Selection Committee;
- The Selection Committee, a group of UW Law faculty and members of the public service law community, reviews the applications and selects approximately 25 Gates PSL Scholarship finalists, who are invited to campus for Candidate Selection Weekend.
- Finalists attend Candidate Selection Weekend at UW Law in Seattle, where they are interviewed for one of five interview panels consisting of UW Law faculty and staff, members of the public service law community, and current Gates Scholars.
Will members of the Review Committee have access to my UW Law JD admissions file and will they read it?
Yes. The Review Committee will review your full JD admissions file, as well as your Gates PSL Scholarship application materials. During the remaining stages of the selection process, the Selection Committee and Interview Panels will have access only to your Gates PSL Scholarship application materials, the LSAC CAS Report, and personal statement from your JD. admissions file.
During Candidate Selection Weekend, will finalists be interviewed individually or in a group setting?
Both. Finalists will be interviewed individually and with the Interview panel made up of 3-4 people.
For finalists invited to Candidate Selection Weekend, does the Gates PSL Scholarship Program pay for travel expenses?
Yes. The Gates PSL Scholarship Program works with a travel agency that will make travel arrangements for all finalists, point-to-point. The Gates PSL Scholarship Program also pays for finalists’ lodging, food, and ground transportation expenses to and from the airport.
If I am working or studying abroad and am chosen as a Gates PSL Scholarship finalist, will the Gates PSL Scholarship Program cover my travel expenses?
Yes. The Gates PSL Scholarship Program will pay for round-trip transportation for you. The program works with a travel agency to book flights at the best possible rates.
If I’m local to the Seattle area, will my transportation be covered?
Yes. You will be reimbursed for your round trip-mileage from point-to-point or, if you use public transportation, you will be reimbursed for those costs.
Will the Gates PSL Scholarship Program provide lodging, and for how many nights?
Yes. The Gates PSL Scholarship Program provides and pays for a maximum of two nights of lodging. The hotel is within walking distance of the UW Law and also has a shuttle service.
If I’m local to the Seattle area, will I also receive lodging?
Yes, but only if the distance that you’ll be commuting to the UW Law is 45 miles or more.
What is proper attire for Candidate Selection Weekend?
Candidates should wear interview-appropriate attire on Friday and Saturday: sports coat or dress jacket over a business-appropriate shirt or blouse with dress trousers or skirt. There is an informal dinner on Friday night, for which there is no dress code.
The compensation limit applicable to all recipients during each year of their public service obligation shall be based on the then current United States Government pay scales (GS Salary levels) for the compensation of individuals holding positions in the U.S. government in the Seattle-Tacoma-Olympia region (Salary Tables and Related Information). The salary cap will be tied to the GS 12 step 1 in the Seattle-Tacoma-Olympia region.
What is the definition of public service for purposes of the Gates PSL Scholarship Program?
For a detailed definition, see Terms and Conditions.
Are there financial limits to the employment choices I can make?
You can choose any type of public service employment that meets the definition under "Obligations of Scholars." There is a compensation limit that applies – it does not prevent you from taking any public service law position that meets the definition. But exceeding the limit may result in a requirement that you repay a portion of the loan over time.
How does the compensation limit operate?
The compensation limit is based on the United States government pay scales (GS scales) and is further based on the region where the scholar will be working. After reviewing a wide range of known public service salaries the Program Advisory Board set the limits as follows:
- First year of employment following graduation – GS 11 Step 1
- Second year of employment following graduation -- GS 11 Step 5
- Third year of employment following graduation -- GS 12 Step 1
- Fourth year of employment following graduation -- GS 12 Step 5
- Fifth year of employment following graduation, and after -- GS 13 step 1.
Why is there a compensation limit?
Public service is intentionally defined broadly by the Program. One of the central purposes of the Gates Public Service Law Scholarship Program is to enable and encourage Scholars to work in relatively lower paying public service law positions without being burdened by substantial law school debt repayment obligations. Accordingly, if during any year of the five year Public Service obligation, the Scholar's compensation from her or his post-graduate Public Service employment exceeds a certain amount, the amount of loan forgiveness for that year will be reduced on a dollar-for-dollar basis for each dollar earned in excess of the compensation Limit. The compensation limit does not prevent a Scholar from accepting any public service position that qualifies under the Program definition.
If the compensation limit applies to the employment I choose how is the repayment handled? How do I pay back my percentage and what period of time do I have to make repayment?
In the event of earnings in excess of the compensation limits the Scholar is required to make quarterly repayments beginning the first day of the next quarter following the first date the Scholar is in "default" (i.e. receiving a salary above the compensation limit). The maximum repayment period may not exceed 10 years (120 months) divided into 40 quarterly (every three months) payment periods. Payment of principal together with interest and charges shall be made in equal quarterly installments established by the University.
If my goal after graduation is to do public service with an international organization, will that type of work satisfy the Gates PSL Scholarship’s public service requirement?
As long as the public service work fits within the Gates PSL Scholarship Program guidelines, your post-graduate public service law work can be accomplished anywhere in the world.