The University of Wisconsin Law School sponsors a Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP), which provides small grants to students who accept permanent public interest jobs after graduation. Since its inception in 2002, the LRAP has generally provided from between two to six months of loan repayment in the form of a lump sum payment upon the student’s acceptance of a “qualifying position.” (The size of the award may vary depending upon the applicant pool and the applicants' debt obligations.) “Qualifying position,” means a legal position at a nonprofit organization or government agency with a specified maximum annual salary.
To apply for a grant through LRAP, you do not need to have already accepted a qualifying position! However, to be eligible to receive the grant, you must apply for the grant prior to March 15 the year after you graduate.
If you have any questions regarding the LRAP or its application process, please contact Megan Heneke.
Created and administered by bar associations, bar foundations, independent non-profit organizations and state education administrations, 24 states offer loan repayment assistance programs. You can find comprehensive state LRAP information on the ABA's website.
In an effort to ease the financial burdens facing new attorneys working in public interest positions, some public interest employers establish loan repayment assistance programs for their employees.
Participating agencies determine their own program requirements within the requirements of 5 U.S.C. 5379 which states:
- Agencies are authorized to provide up to $10,000 per calendar year with a lifetime limit of $60,000.
- Recipients of loan repayment assistance must agree to a three-year service obligation.
- Only federal student loans are eligible for assistance. Eligible loans include:
- Federal Direct and FFEL Stafford Loans (Subsidized and Unsubsidized)
- Federal Direct and FFEL PLUS Loans
- Federal Direct and FFEL Consolidation Loans
- Federal Perkins Loans: National Defense Student Loans, National Direct Student Loans, Perkins Loans
- Public Health Service Act Loans: Loans for Disadvantaged Students (LDS), Primary Care Loans (PCL), Nursing Student Loans (NSL), Health Professions Student Loans (HPSL), Health Education Assistance Loans (HEAL)
- The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) submits annual reports to Congress on federal agencies’ Loan Repayment Assistance Programs including:
- The number of employees who received student loan repayment benefits;
- The job classifications of the employees who received student loan repayment benefits; and
- The cost to the federal government of providing student loan repayment benefits.
In 2007, President Bush signed the College Cost Reduction and Access Act (CCRAA), which provides loan forgiveness for graduates who work in the public sector and make timely loan payments for 10 years. For more information on the CCRAA, please visit the Equal Justice Works' Student Debt page.
On August 14, 2008, President Bush signed H.R. 4137, now P.L. 110-315 – The Higher Education Reauthorization and College Opportunity Act of 2008. Although funds are authorized for each program, Congress will now have to make appropriations to fund these programs.
The Higher Education Reauthorization and College Opportunity Act of 2008 establishes four new loan forgiveness and repayment programs that benefit public interest lawyers. They are:
- The Federal John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program: Providing $10,000 per year in exchange for a one time renewable three-year commitment for state and local prosecutors and public defenders. (View page 60 of the ebook below)
- The Legal Services Corporation's Herbert S. Garten Loan Repayment Assistance Program: New attorneys may be eligible for forgivable loans of up to $5,600 per year for up to three years. (View page 63 of the ebook below)
View more information on both programs via the Equal Justice Works' ebook: How to Manage Your Student Debt While Pursuing a Public Interest Legal Career (PDF).
Rules will be established by the federal agencies responsible for administering these programs. Read the full text of H.R. 4137.