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Scholar Program

The Toll Public Interest Scholar program provides a full scholarship to five students each year who have demonstrated both academic excellence and unwavering commitment to public service. In addition to financial assistance, the Toll Scholars program cultivates leadership in service through robust advising and mentoring as well as coursework and scholar activities.

Toll Scholars are expected to be actively engaged in the Penn Law public interest community from orientation to commencement, and beyond as part of an active alumni network. Toll Scholars benefit from a formal orientation program, guidance from their Toll Scholar families and faculty advisors, and coursework that culminates in a scholar capstone project.

Toll Scholars must commit to public sector employment all law school summers, and for at least the first three years after graduation. Qualifying public interest employment includes work for a non-profit organization or institution whose primary purpose is to serve or advocate on behalf of individuals or organizations whose interests are not adequately represented by the private sector or government; federal, state, or local government, other than as a judicial clerk; clinical law teaching; private employers who’s primary mission is to serve the public interest. Toll Scholars are encouraged to pursue judicial clerkships and may do so for up to three years without penalty.

Scholar Experience

  • Shabel Castro L’19

    As the first person in my immediate family to attend graduate school, the Toll Scholar program makes it financially feasible for me to become an attorney and develop the skills necessary to be at the forefront of helping marginalized communities have access to justice and legal services.

    The program also allows me to be part of a special community of leaders and mentors who are at the center of public service, which is something I consider to be priceless.

  • Akbar Hossain L’18

    As a first generation college graduate, the financial support from the Toll Scholarship made my dream of graduate education possible, which has certainly made me a more effective, informed, and conscientious leader than I could have been otherwise. The overall experience of being a Toll Scholar has empowered me in ways that far exceed what I could have imagined, including mentorship, professional growth opportunities, and a support network that spans any field of public service. Perhaps the best part of the Toll Scholarship has been the opportunity to meet, learn from, and grow with a community of close friends who are incredibly talented and a constant source of inspiration. 

  • Emma Morgenstern L’19

    I have been so happy to be included in the Toll family – not just my Toll Scholar family, who are the best and most supportive Toll uncles/moms I could ask for, but also my scholar class as well. It’s been amazing to have these people at my back throughout this experience, to commiserate, make me laugh, and make me feel inspired on a regular basis. The program office itself has been so supportive as well, receptive to our ideas and so responsive to our particular needs and questions. Even just having these faces in the hallway to offer a few words of support between classes has been a gamechanger on some days!

  • Albert Pak L’18

    Serving the public interest takes many different forms. The Toll Scholar program empowers students to discover what that looks like in their own lives.

  • Laily Sheybani L’18

    I am forever grateful to have been chosen as a Toll Scholar, not only because of the debt relief, but also because of my passionate and brilliant scholar cohort– a group that zealously challenges the inequities of our legal system and that acts as a constant source of energy, support, and inspiration for me.

  • Erin Sweeney L’19

    The Toll Scholar program has provided me with an opportunity I would never have had otherwise–to attend an Ivy League law school AND pursue my dream of becoming a public defender. If not for the Toll Scholar program, I would have been incentivized to prioritize paying off my loans, consequently delaying my public interest career. Instead, through the program’s incredible support, I will be able to do public interest work throughout and immediately following law school. The mentorship and community that the Toll Scholar program provides is unparalleled. I have never felt so supported or encouraged. If you have a passion, the Toll Scholars, staff, and faculty, will ensure that you develop a plan to incorporate it into your career. If you are unsure which of your many passions you want to pursue, they help you recognize which one connects to your purpose, and encourage you to pursue it relentlessly.