LRAPs crudely ranked

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beef wellington
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LRAPs crudely ranked

Postby beef wellington » Tue Jun 08, 2010 5:41 am

Loan repayment assistance programs are frequently changing and contain all sorts of fine print that determine how useful they are in practice. Still, there's some insight to be gained from whatever rough comparisons we can make.


Methodology

I compared how each LRAP paid out for an unmarried person making median public interest salaries for the first ten years of her career while using IBR to repay her loans.

I chose IBR for the analysis because I think the majority of PI-focused students are planning on using it, and I imagine more LRAPs will start incentivizing or requiring their recipients to use IBR (a few top schools with recently revamped LRAPs have already done so).

This analysis will therefore be less useful for people who do not plan on doing IBR. It's also worth mentioning that because of all the unpaid interest that accumulates while making IBR payments, IBR is often not worth doing unless you're prepared to commit ten years to public interest and take advantage of the public service loan forgiveness (PSLF).

I got the median salary numbers from the National Association for Law Placement:

--ImageRemoved--

Many LRAPs cover government work, but some don't, so I chose to focus on the salaries of lawyers listed as working in public interest organizations. For our analysis of a decade of median PI salaries, the table gives us values for years 1 and 5 ($41,000 and $53,815). For the median salary of a PI lawyer with 11-15 years of experience, I chose to peg that value to year 13. I then filled in the remaining years with proportional raises, so we end up with a lawyer making $41,000 her first year and $62,970 in her tenth. After that I calculated the amount she would owe on her loans each year in an IBR plan, and what portion of that amount each LRAP would cover.

All of that data accounts for the large block of figures on the right side of the tables below. On the left side you have the results: the average yearly LRAP award and the person's average monthly loan payment. I've broken the rankings up into US News tiers:

T17 & T1
--ImageRemoved--

T2 & T3/4
--ImageRemoved--


Caveats

There are so many I'm sure I'll forget some. I guess the biggest one is that some LRAPs are more guaranteed than others. The top schools' programs are generally pretty safe. Many have language in their policies that indicates that as long as you have a qualifying job you will get $x amount of money according to your income. However, as you make your way further down the US News rankings, things become increasingly sketchier. Most lower ranked schools basically say, go ahead and apply and we'll try and divvy up whatever money we have as best we can. This is one reason why I broke up the ranking into tiers.

Many of the schools on this list do not guarantee their LRAPs.

Therefore, these figures often represent a best-case scenario--they're what you'll get assuming you meet all the eligibility requirements and the school is able to give you the maximum award. Some required a bit of guess-work and extrapolation. Virginia, for example, has announced their new LRAP will pay out 100% for a person making up to $55,000 (the "soft cap"), and then a sliding scale kicks in until the hard cap of $75,000. The problem is they haven't yet announced what exactly that sliding scale will look like. The best I could come up with was to use the scale from their old LRAP, which required the participant to contribute half her income above the soft cap.

I investigated every school that Equal Justice Works lists as having an LRAP, plus a couple I knew about that weren't on that list (UCLA and Texas). If a school is not listed in this analysis, it's probably due to one of the following factors:

  • They don't have an LRAP.
  • Their LRAP is not good enough to help someone making median PI salaries.
  • Their method of calculating LRAP awards is vague, discretionary, not publicly available, etc.
  • I overlooked them.

It's exceedingly likely that I mistakenly omitted someone or screwed up someone's calculations. Please correct me by posting in this thread or PM'ing me. Hopefully through collaboration we can get this thing pretty accurate and keep it useful for the next cycle of applicants.

I didn't mess around with adjusting for assets or dependents because come on. If someone wants to argue that adding those elements into the analysis will dramatically change the results and make this significantly more useful, feel free.

The final caveat is pretty obvious: this is a thumbnail sketch of how useful LRAPs are for a generic, imaginary person. The rankings are not to be interpreted too rigidly. No, I don't think anyone should turn down Yale for UCLA. That being said, I think we can see some legitimate tiers as far as LRAP quality, and I think that's useful.

Final final caveat: at the rate the top schools have been upgrading their LRAPs, I think it's likely that the whole T14 will have pretty comparable programs in the near future. Columbia and Chicago are both rumored to be in the process of updating theirs.


Updates

6/8/10: Added Duke's fantastic new LRAP. Adjusted Michigan's calculation. Thanks to paralegal and jh60405 for these corrections.

3/14/11: Updated Chicago, Emory and USC.


Links to the fine print

Northwestern (yes you can actually make money off their LRAP assuming your loans are forgiven by the feds after ten years)
Berkeley
Georgetown
UCLA
Yale
Stanford
Duke
NYU
Virginia
Harvard (LinkRemoved)
Columbia
Chicago
Michigan (LinkRemoved)
Penn
Cornell
Texas
Vanderbilt (LinkRemoved)

Hastings (LinkRemoved)
Fordham
USC
UC Davis
Illinois (LinkRemoved)
Notre Dame (LinkRemoved)
WUSTL
Emory

Loyola
Loyola-Chicago (LinkRemoved)
Seattle
Lewis and Clark
Penn St (LinkRemoved)
Rutgers-Camden
USF
Temple (LinkRemoved)

Pace
Vermont (LinkRemoved)
Albany
Marquette
St. Thomas MN (LinkRemoved)
Widener
Last edited by beef wellington on Mon Mar 14, 2011 10:31 am, edited 15 times in total.

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invisiblesun
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Re: LRAPs crudely ranked

Postby invisiblesun » Tue Jun 08, 2010 5:50 am

Seems very useful for PI-minded applicants. Interesting findings as well; much of the buzz about differences in LRAP between HYS seems to be overstated as all of these schools would require less than $100/mo of loan repayment, and H is revamping this system come March. Hastings also seems to be a great choice for PI-minded applicants who want to stay in the bay area but had poor luck with Berkeley.

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ozarkhack
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Re: LRAPs crudely ranked

Postby ozarkhack » Tue Jun 08, 2010 7:39 am

beef:

Well done. While glowhard is right about things being complicated, it's still handy for folk to compare programs, even if very crudely, as you put it.

One thing, probably a little too in the weeds: Hastings covers 100% of loan payment after 5-7 years, depending on what one earns between $50k-$70k.

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tallboone
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Re: LRAPs crudely ranked

Postby tallboone » Tue Jun 08, 2010 7:56 am

This should be taken down. It looks too official and the "rankings" are based on your extremely subjective, and I would even say uninformed opinion. Yes, Georgetown might technically be better for someone in a PI job making $95k on paper, but because it is tied to IBR and Georgetown's endowment is comparatively small, their LRAP simply is not as good as Yale's, Harvard's, etc. All the LRAPs tied to IBR look very good on paper, but as I've said in other threads, if you use these, you are taking a huge leap of faith in both your school's ability to fund the program and the government's willingness to forgive loans in 13 years.

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beef wellington
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Re: LRAPs crudely ranked

Postby beef wellington » Tue Jun 08, 2010 7:58 am

Thanks ozark and invisiblesun.

ozark: I've got Hastings covering 100% for years 6-10 but 96% for year 5

--LinkRemoved-- top of page 6

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beef wellington
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Re: LRAPs crudely ranked

Postby beef wellington » Tue Jun 08, 2010 8:07 am

tallboone wrote:This should be taken down. It looks too official and the "rankings" are based on your extremely subjective, and I would even say uninformed opinion. Yes, Georgetown might technically be better for someone in a PI job making $95k on paper, but because it is tied to IBR and Georgetown's endowment is comparatively small, their LRAP simply is not as good as Yale's, Harvard's, etc. All the LRAPs tied to IBR look very good on paper, but as I've said in other threads, if you use these, you are taking a huge leap of faith in both your school's ability to fund the program and the government's willingness to forgive loans in 13 years.

Dude I spend like the whole post talking about how crude the rankings are and you say they look too official? I'm not sure what to tell you. I agree Yale's LRAP is better than GULC's. That's my subjective opinion. The rankings, however, are not based on my subjective opinion, they're based on numbers. I explained my reasons for using IBR in the analysis, I was just trying to make apples-to-apples comparisons. If you're not going to use IBR then I readily admit these will be less useful for you.

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tallboone
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Re: LRAPs crudely ranked

Postby tallboone » Tue Jun 08, 2010 8:12 am

Really the only way to do this legitimately are to rank the different types of LRAPs--those tied to IBR (GULC), those that require public interest employment but are not tied to IBR (NYU, Harvard to some extent), those that do not require PI and are income based (Michigan), and then Yale's.

I didn't mean to jump on you, I just think that someone who is not on TLS a lot (the average law school applicant) and is looking for a comparison of LRAPs could come across this and think, man I want to do PI, I should probably go to UCLA over Harvard. I just think the formatting should be done in a less official style, it kind of looks like the TLS articles.

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beef wellington
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Re: LRAPs crudely ranked

Postby beef wellington » Tue Jun 08, 2010 8:31 am

tallboone wrote:Really the only way to do this legitimately are to rank the different types of LRAPs--those tied to IBR (GULC), those that require public interest employment but are not tied to IBR (NYU, Harvard to some extent), those that do not require PI and are income based (Michigan), and then Yale's.

I didn't mean to jump on you, I just think that someone who is not on TLS a lot (the average law school applicant) and is looking for a comparison of LRAPs could come across this and think, man I want to do PI, I should probably go to UCLA over Harvard. I just think the formatting should be done in a less official style, it kind of looks like the TLS articles.

Well hopefully they read the post, I really did my best to put the numbers in context and encourage people to read the fine print. If someone's gonna ignore that and pick UCLA over Harvard to save themselves $90 a [strike]year[/strike] month...well I hear Westwood is nice at least.

As for your first paragraph, that's really the reason I chose IBR. The IBR LRAPs can't be applied to standard payment plans, Michigan and Yale are the only ones I can think of off the top of my head that don't have employment requirements, but all LRAPs can be applied to IBR plans, so this was the only way to compare all of them apples to apples. Plus I really see the standard LRAPs being phased out. It's cheaper for the schools to only have to worry about 10-15% of their PI students' debt and let the feds pick up the rest. And I'm not convinced IBR doesn't pay for itself federally either, they'll be making a ton of money off the extra interest paid by people who do IBR but only qualify for the 25 year forgiveness.

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Re: LRAPs crudely ranked

Postby jh60405 » Tue Jun 08, 2010 11:11 am

Another important thing to mention about Yale and Michigan is that they forgive as you go. IBR and most LRAP plans do not forgive until the very end. This means that if you lose your PI job after 7 years and then get a firm job you get no LRAP/IBR benefits. To me this is the greatest aspect of the Yale and Michigan plans: you don't have to make 120 consecutive payments working in public interest to receive benefits. I think it makes them significantly more desirable than the plans that only forgive at the end of 10 years.

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badwithpseudonyms
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Re: LRAPs crudely ranked

Postby badwithpseudonyms » Tue Jun 08, 2010 11:35 am

eh, nevermind.
Last edited by badwithpseudonyms on Tue Jun 08, 2010 11:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

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rolark
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Re: LRAPs crudely ranked

Postby rolark » Tue Jun 08, 2010 11:43 am

jh60405 wrote:Another important thing to mention about Yale and Michigan is that they forgive as you go. IBR and most LRAP plans do not forgive until the very end. This means that if you lose your PI job after 7 years and then get a firm job you get no LRAP/IBR benefits. To me this is the greatest aspect of the Yale and Michigan plans: you don't have to make 120 consecutive payments working in public interest to receive benefits. I think it makes them significantly more desirable than the plans that only forgive at the end of 10 years.

+1

These rankings are hugely misleading because they assume IBR. While a school like Berkeley requires you to use IBR, Michigan does not. That means are Berkeley you are making tiny IBR payments, supplemented by the school, waiting for that 10-year mark where it will all be forgiven. At Michigan, students pay no more than 35% of anything they make over $36k around $400/mo. if you're making $50k/yr). After a year with both plans you've made a much larger dent in your debt if you're on the Michigan plan because you've been able to stick to the regular repayment plan

There are two ways to go. The Berkeley plan is fine if you'll be saying in PI work for 10 years and are willing to carry a huge amount of debt throughout that time. If you're more debt-averse or are considering changing jobs, the Michigan plan can make good sense. At Michigan, you do end up paying more over 10 years, but it's certainly in manageable amounts. As a debt-averse individual, I'd rather put a little of my own money towards the payments and see that debt disappear much quicker than it would on the Berkeley plan. Both plans have their strengths, but it's just doesn't make sense to rank them like this while assuming IBR.

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Re: LRAPs crudely ranked

Postby holydonkey » Tue Jun 08, 2010 11:50 am

rolark wrote:
jh60405 wrote:Another important thing to mention about Yale and Michigan is that they forgive as you go. IBR and most LRAP plans do not forgive until the very end. This means that if you lose your PI job after 7 years and then get a firm job you get no LRAP/IBR benefits. To me this is the greatest aspect of the Yale and Michigan plans: you don't have to make 120 consecutive payments working in public interest to receive benefits. I think it makes them significantly more desirable than the plans that only forgive at the end of 10 years.

+1

These rankings are hugely misleading because they assume IBR. While a school like Berkeley requires you to use IBR, Michigan does not. That means are Berkeley you are making tiny IBR payments, supplemented by the school, waiting for that 10-year mark where it will all be forgiven. At Michigan, students pay no more than 35% of anything they make over $36k around $400/mo. if you're making $50k/yr). After a year with both plans you've made a much larger dent in your debt if you're on the Michigan plan because you've been able to stick to the regular repayment plan

There are two ways to go. The Berkeley plan is fine if you'll be saying in PI work for 10 years and are willing to carry a huge amount of debt throughout that time. If you're more debt-averse or are considering changing jobs, the Michigan plan can make good sense. At Michigan, you do end up paying more over 10 years, but it's certainly in manageable amounts. As a debt-averse individual, I'd rather put a little of my own money towards the payments and see that debt disappear much quicker than it would on the Berkeley plan. Both plans have their strengths, but it's just doesn't make sense to rank them like this while assuming IBR.
Agreed.

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beef wellington
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Re: LRAPs crudely ranked

Postby beef wellington » Tue Jun 08, 2010 4:09 pm

jh60405 wrote:Another important thing to mention about Yale and Michigan is that they forgive as you go. IBR and most LRAP plans do not forgive until the very end. This means that if you lose your PI job after 7 years and then get a firm job you get no LRAP/IBR benefits. To me this is the greatest aspect of the Yale and Michigan plans: you don't have to make 120 consecutive payments working in public interest to receive benefits. I think it makes them significantly more desirable than the plans that only forgive at the end of 10 years.

Most LRAPs forgive as you go to some extent. If you read the fine print of these plans you'll find that in the scenario you mentioned where you leave PI 7 years in, your LRAP loans will probably be completely forgiven. Of course, you will be screwed as far as the feds are concerned but you won't have to pay back the LRAP loans.

rolark wrote:These rankings are hugely misleading because they assume IBR.

How can they be misleading when I say right at the top of the post that the hypothetical graduate is doing IBR? I will add in a further disclaimer re their reduced usefulness for people who aren't planning on IBR, I had thought this went without saying. They're also probably of limited utility for people who are married, strangely we have yet to hear from the marrieds. The point is everyone's situation is different and will need to look at the fine print of each plan, my intent here was only to establish a very rough baseline.

Since Michigan seems to be a contentious issue here, let's look at the hypothetical person you mention and see how they fare with Michigan's LRAP and a standard payment plan compared to an IBR plan. Assume she paid sticker for the whole time at Michigan. (WARNING: This comparison may not be useful for you if you went to Michigan on a full ride, are independently wealthy, didn't go to Michigan etc.)

--ImageRemoved--

One can definitely see how it would make sense to choose the standard plan for Michigan and pay the extra $75 a month in order to have the freedom to leave PI at any time. Still, Michigan's soft cap of $36,000 is ridiculously low and owing $500 a month on a $50,000 salary is no fun. So I don't think it's some great injustice that Michigan ends up at the bottom of my rankings, I actually think their LRAP kinda sucks.


EDIT:

jh60405' points out below that Michigan actually increases their soft cap $2000 every year you stay in the program. It makes a pretty big difference, and the table I posted above should actually look like this:

--ImageRemoved--

Crazy how it works out to exactly the same average monthly payment. Looks like there would be next to no incentive for IBR as long as this LRAP is in place at Michigan. Anyway I take back all the mean things I said before about their LRAP.
Last edited by beef wellington on Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:04 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: LRAPs crudely ranked

Postby ReelectClayDavis » Tue Jun 08, 2010 4:32 pm

beef wellington wrote:Most LRAPs forgive as you go to some extent. If you read the fine print of these plans you'll find that in the scenario you mentioned where you leave PI 7 years in, your LRAP loans will probably be completely forgiven. Of course, you will be screwed as far as the feds are concerned but you won't have to pay back the LRAP loans.


I don't think they question whether the money loaned by your school to make your 15% of AGI IBR payments is forgivable. The problem most have with IBR is that the payments you are making are not actually sufficient to pay the principal on the 6 figure loan you took out, and that remains true regardless of the fact that the school is making the payments (which are a %age of your income, not your debt obligation) on your behalf.

Those who leave qualifying employment before 120 payments (which don't have to be consecutive, people (LinkRemoved)) and never return to qualifying employment will find that they owe MORE on their $xxx,xxx debt than they owed immediately after graduating law school! They will have to either 1) use the mad private sector $$$ to pay that down through fixed payments OR 2) wait for 25 year IBR forgiveness (which is not tax forgivable (yet).

For those who like me are set on a public service CAREER, I am very happy with the higher income thresholds in the new LRAPs that dovetail with IBR. If I go 10 years, I probably only have to pay about half of what I actually owe on my loans just with plain vanilla IBR. With LRAP at my T-10 on top of that, I will actually be paying only 1/4 or so of my true debt.

I could see how others would want flexibility instead, but they must realize that this flexibility comes at the cost of a pathetic income cap that will cease giving you benefits after a few years (unless you are at Yale).

Great work here OP in any event, this is very valuable. It would be an even more valuable service to make two sets of LRAP rankings: 1 for "Career PI" and another for, uh, PI "Dabblers" I guess.

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Re: LRAPs crudely ranked

Postby rolark » Tue Jun 08, 2010 4:55 pm

ReelectClayDavis wrote:
beef wellington wrote:Great work here OP in any event, this is very valuable. It would be an even more valuable service to make two sets of LRAP rankings: 1 for "Career PI" and another for, uh, PI "Dabblers" I guess.

I agree this is a useful tool and can see why someone would want to stick with IBR. There are a few things that sway me, though, including, among others, my love for Michigan and my fear of something happening to me that would leave my family stuck with my debt. (I found the PI community at Michigan to be a lot stronger than many of the schools listed above it - though that may be another, separate variable PI folks will have to take into account.)

Anyway, I think we can all agree there are many factors going into selecting a school with a good LRAP, let alone a school that is generally strong for PI. Regardless of people's opinions on this, I'm glad there are many good people interested in PI work and wanting to compare schools under these terms!

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Re: LRAPs crudely ranked

Postby februaryftw » Tue Jun 08, 2010 5:01 pm

This seems as appropriate place as any: are Harvard and Yale the only schools which provide LRAP plans that cover academia (as public interest for Harvard, or as covered under low-income for Yale)? Any I am missing?

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beef wellington
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Re: LRAPs crudely ranked

Postby beef wellington » Tue Jun 08, 2010 5:07 pm

februaryftw wrote:This seems as appropriate place as any: are Harvard and Yale the only schools which provide LRAP plans that cover academia (as public interest for Harvard, or as covered under low-income for Yale)? Any I am missing?

Michigan! :)

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Re: LRAPs crudely ranked

Postby ReelectClayDavis » Tue Jun 08, 2010 5:14 pm

rolark wrote:I agree this is a useful tool and can see why someone would want to stick with IBR. There are a few things that sway me, though, including, among others, my love for Michigan and my fear of something happening to me that would leave my family stuck with my debt.


Interesting point re death or disability, I hadn't thought about that. Hubris of youth I suppose. The below should apply. If the debt is not discharged as per the below, anyone know what happens in the event of death? Seems from here the result is that your estate will be tapped to pay the loan, but when that runs out there is no further obligation falling on family members to pay any more. 0L here, anyone with actual knowledge on this?

http://studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/ ... ng#content

Discharge/Cancellation
It's possible to have your student loan debt discharged (canceled) or reduced, but only under certain specific circumstances:

You die or become totally and permanently disabled.
. . . .
You file for bankruptcy. (This cancellation is rare and occurs only if a bankruptcy court rules that repayment would cause undue hardship.)

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Re: LRAPs crudely ranked

Postby jh60405 » Tue Jun 08, 2010 5:17 pm

beef wellington wrote:
jh60405 wrote:Another important thing to mention about Yale and Michigan is that they forgive as you go. IBR and most LRAP plans do not forgive until the very end. This means that if you lose your PI job after 7 years and then get a firm job you get no LRAP/IBR benefits. To me this is the greatest aspect of the Yale and Michigan plans: you don't have to make 120 consecutive payments working in public interest to receive benefits. I think it makes them significantly more desirable than the plans that only forgive at the end of 10 years.

Most LRAPs forgive as you go to some extent. If you read the fine print of these plans you'll find that in the scenario you mentioned where you leave PI 7 years in, your LRAP loans will probably be completely forgiven. Of course, you will be screwed as far as the feds are concerned but you won't have to pay back the LRAP loans.

rolark wrote:These rankings are hugely misleading because they assume IBR.

How it can they be misleading when I say right at the top of the post that the hypothetical graduate is doing IBR? I will add in a further disclaimer re their reduced usefulness for people who aren't planning on IBR, I had thought this went without saying. They're also probably of limited utility for people who are married, strangely we have yet to hear from the marrieds. The point is everyone's situation is different and will need to look at the fine print of each plan, my intent here was only to establish a very rough baseline.

Since Michigan seems to be a contentious issue here, let's look at the hypothetical person you mention and see how they fare with Michigan's LRAP and a standard payment plan compared to an IBR plan. Assume she paid sticker for the whole time at Michigan. (WARNING: This comparison may not be useful for you if you went to Michigan on a full ride, are independently wealthy, didn't go to Michigan etc.)

--ImageRemoved--

One can definitely see how it would make sense to choose the standard plan for Michigan and pay the extra $75 a month in order to have the freedom to leave PI at any time. Still, Michigan's soft cap of $36,000 is ridiculously low and owing $500 a month on a $50,000 salary is no fun. So I don't think it's some great injustice that Michigan ends up at the bottom of my rankings, I actually think their LRAP kinda sucks.


The Michigan soft cap actually increases $2,000 for every year out of school you are. So year 1 you would have a 36k cap but it would be 38 in yr 2, 40 in yr 3, 42 in yr 4 . . .

FebuaryFTW: The Michigan program also includes academia because it allows people in any legal job (even for-profit legal jobs) to use the LRAP program. Unfortunately tenure track jobs in law schools almost always pay 6 figures and will essentially push you out of the Michigan plan. They probably push you out of the Harvard and Yale plans most of the time as well. However, VAP's and Fellowships should normally qualify.

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Borhas
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Re: LRAPs crudely ranked

Postby Borhas » Tue Jun 08, 2010 5:20 pm

excellent work BW, you get props

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D-hops
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Re: LRAPs crudely ranked

Postby D-hops » Tue Jun 08, 2010 5:33 pm

Borhas wrote:excellent work BW, you get props

paralegal
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Re: LRAPs crudely ranked

Postby paralegal » Tue Jun 08, 2010 5:34 pm

This year, Duke completely revamped their LRAP, and it's on par with UVA's.

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Re: LRAPs crudely ranked

Postby jhare » Tue Jun 08, 2010 5:54 pm

tag

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beef wellington
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Re: LRAPs crudely ranked

Postby beef wellington » Tue Jun 08, 2010 7:38 pm

jh60405 wrote:The Michigan soft cap actually increases $2,000 for every year out of school you are. So year 1 you would have a 36k cap but it would be 38 in yr 2, 40 in yr 3, 42 in yr 4 . . .

This would make a pretty big difference. I believe you but I can't find it on Michigan's website (seems like the kind of thing they would want to advertise). Do you have a link or could you paste the language if it's password-protected? Or can anyone else corroborate?

paralegal wrote:This year, Duke completely revamped their LRAP, and it's on par with UVA's.

Thank you, I can't believe I missed this. I will update the OP shortly. If you or anyone else knows the formula for the sliding scale past $60,000 that would be helpful. If it's not public I'll just use the same formula I used for UVA.

edit: OP updated for Michigan and Duke.

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Re: LRAPs crudely ranked

Postby jh60405 » Tue Jun 08, 2010 8:32 pm

http://web.law.umich.edu/_DebtManagemen ... dForms.asp

You'll also see the fine print on assets -- most schools count assets against you to some degree. Michigan doesn't seem to be worse than anyone else on this.




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