We heard from a few panicked June LSAT takers this past weekend, all with the same frenzied query: "LSAC says that my LSAT scores are on hold! I don't know how I did on the test! What happened? What can I do?" Thankfully, with a little research, we found out what was going on--and can give you a little guidance on what to do.
Let's first start with how LSAC defines "held" scores:
[A] hold will prevent the release of your LSAT score(s) and all LSAT and Credential Assembly Service (CAS) reporting to you and to law schools. If you order publications, shipping delays may also result. If the balance due is not settled, the reporting hold will carry over to subsequent LSAC files.
A hold can be placed on your account for a number of reasons:
Stop Payments/Returned Checks/Credit Card Denial
If your credit card authorization is denied
- a hold will be placed on your file, and
- no further reporting will be possible until you pay the outstanding balance.
A credit card denial will not cancel your registration.
If you stop payment on any check, or if any check is returned
- a hold will be placed on your file,
- a stop-payment charge will be applied to your account, and
- no further reporting will be possible until you pay the outstanding balance plus the stop-payment charge.
So far, it all looks pretty normal: A hold is placed on your account if you have any past-due fees. Pretty standard. However, the students that contacted us didn't have any outstanding fees. The one thing that they did have in common, though, were unresolved fee waiver applications. In the beginning, this didn't stand out as a potential cause of the hold. Then we did a little research and found this (hat tip: UMass Amherst Pre-Law Advising Office Blog):
I just received the following from LSAC regarding fee waiver applications for the LSAT and LSDAS [now known as CAS]:
- The LSAC files of conditionally approved fee waiver applicants or of applicants who appeal a denial decision will be placed on hold pending final approval of the waiver or consideration of the appeal.
- Applicants whose files are on hold will not receive LSAT scores, and law school reports will NOT be sent until review of their tax forms and any applicable documentation is complete.
- If the conditional approval or the appeal is subsequently denied, the applicants will be responsible for the fees associated with the service for which they registered.
- The hold on the file will be removed upon final approval of the fee waiver or receipt of payment.
It turns out that a fee waiver application on which LSAC hasn't yet made a decision can also put a hold on your account (and thus your scores). This can be a very frustrating thing for students who are both waiting to hear back regarding their fee waiver and wanting to get their scores. If you find yourself in this position, what can you do? You have a couple of options:
- Wait it out. Once a decision is made on your fee waiver application (be it negative or affirmative) your scores will be made available. The only thing that could put a further hold on them is if you didn't pay for LSAT fees in the first place, hoping to get a fee waiver. If you have any outstanding fees (LSAT, CAS), they will have to be paid before you can get your scores. PROS: You get a decision on your waiver application and your scores, all at once. CONS: You may have to wait...and wait...and wait. Some students get their score 3 days after everyone else; some students have to wait 3 weeks. LSAC can't give you a definite timeline, and you are completely at their mercy.
- Cancel your fee waiver application, get your scores, and then reapply. If you cancel your fee waiver application, your scores are made available within 24 hours (provided all other fees are paid). PROS:You get your scores! HOORAY! The wait is over, and you can finally rest. Except, of course, if you decide you need to take the test again. CONS: You will have to resubmit a fee waiver application, and wait however long it takes to get a decision. Also, because you'll have to pay all the outstanding fees up front in order to get your scores, if you get approved for a fee waiver you'll have to apply to get your fees reimbursed (which might also take a while).
Which one you choose is entirely up to you, and how patient you feel you can be. The most obvious "con" to the waiting game is that you may be denied for the fee waiver, have to pay the fees, and also deal with the fact that you waited days or weeks longer than everyone else for the same result.
We recommended that all our students contact LSAC to ask exactly what their options were. If you have a hold on your account and want to contact LSAC, you can do so via phone at 215.968.1001 (press 0 to speak to a representative). They are open Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 7:00 pm EST (from September to February); Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 4:45 pm EST (from March to August). Their busiest day is always Monday, so calling on any other day will probably get you help faster.
SOUND OFF: Were your LSAT scores held because of an outstanding fee waiver application? What did you decide to do?