The Breaking Barriers Scholarship

The scholarship will be awarded on a rolling basis to students who are committed to a career in public interest law, have substantial public interest experience, have overcome obstacles and will contribute to the overall diversity of the entering class.

We recognize adversity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, (dis)ability, and socio-economic or geographic backgrounds as some of the ways that a student can contribute to making our campus more inclusive and rewarding for everyone. It is our hope that these scholarships will also help broaden the scope of individuals practicing in the legal world for generations to come.

Due to the high volume of deserving applicants and very limited funding available for scholarships, we strongly recommend that you apply by the January 1, 2023 scholarship priority deadline to ensure your best chances of receiving a scholarship. While we unfortunately are unable to award scholarships to every deserving candidate, additional funds may be available to apply for later in your studies in forms other than direct tuition assistance, such funding for otherwise unpaid summer fellowships.

To fully capture the needs, experiences, and hardships that make up the complexity of life, we have crafted a scholarship section within the 1L application as a means of collecting qualitative and quantitative information that will aid the scholarship sub-committee in determining financial need. We understand that this section may ask for personal information that may feel invasive, and you are welcome to input as much or as little information as you are comfortable. No questions in this section are required. The information collected in this section will remain completely confidential and used for the sole purpose of assessing financial need in support of scholarship determination once a student is already admitted.


Applicants are required to submit the following to be considered by the Admissions Committee for CUNY Law’s need-based scholarship allocations:

  • Upload an addendum to your application explaining your need for financial assistance that addresses the following prompts (please feel free to respond to each question individually or in a more structured narrative):
    • Have you faced, or are you facing, economic hardship through the course of your life (as a child and/or as an adult)?
    • Have you ever experienced housing insecurity throughout the course of your life (as a child and/or as an adult)?
    • Have you experienced food insecurity throughout the course of your life (as a child and/or as an adult)?
    • Please describe what receiving a $24,000 scholarship ($8000/year for full-time students; $6000/year for part-time students) would mean to you.

The Admissions Committee considers your application, supporting documents that determine the extent of your commitment to public interest, and your financial need. The Committee focuses on the commitment to a career in public interest law, substantive public interest experience, and response to obstacles often created by systemic oppression, ableism, racism, and other ways the law and society affect opportunity and resources. The Committee also assesses potential contribution to the overall diversity of the entering class and community. CUNY Law recognizes adversity, sexual identity, gender ID/expression, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds as just some of the ways that a student can contribute to representation, diversity, and inclusivity in our community and the legal field, which we see as a vital element for transformative justice and equality.

Those who applied on or before the Scholarship Priority Deadline of January 1 will be prioritized. The final selection process may include an interview and/or request for additional documents. Scholarship funding is limited and will be awarded on a rolling basis.

Established in 2012 to advance the Law School’s mission to diversify the legal profession, the Luis Sanjurjo Scholarship is awarded to students who embody the values of Professor Sanjurjo and attended an undergraduate CUNY institution.

Professor Sanjurjo, remembered as “an encouraging, gently ironical, and very witty man” by Thomas Hamill, was a civil rights leader in the South, an altruistic soul, and a professor at Medgar Evers College where he championed CUNY students. This scholarship is made possible through an endowed fund established by Thomas and Hon. Bryanne Hamill ’90 with the hope that recipients will follow in Professor Sanjurjo’s footsteps through a lifetime of public service.

I hope that this scholarship fund will help CUNY Law students; that its recipients will strive to emulate Luis’s many virtues; and that other direct and indirect beneficiaries of his generosity will honor his memory by contributing to it.” — Thomas Hamill

Thomas Hamill is a former student of Professor Sanjurjo at Medgar Evers College. The Honorable Bryanne Hamill is a 1990 graduate of CUNY Law who served on the CUNY Law Foundation Board of Directors for eight years. Together the Hamills have created a legacy in memory of a remarkable man. Read Thomas Hamill’s tribute to Luis.

More Scholarships

AccessLex Law School Scholarship Databank