freestallion wrote:Also, is anyone else slightly disappointed with the LIPP? I recently read that in Georgetown's LRAP, you don't have to pay ANY loans if your salary is below $75,000! This is amazing. At Harvard, you have to start paying loans once your salary hits $45,000 which is relatively low. This makes me sad.
The absolutely vital thing to realize about different LRAP/LIPP programs is that basically all of the T14 except YHS now require participation in the federal public service loan forgiveness program (http://studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/ ... sh/PSF.jsp
). The key thing about the federal program is that you have to work for ten years for a government agency or a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to get any forgiveness at all - if you work in qualifying employment for only nine and a half years, you don't get any forgiveness from the government. (Though you could still be eligible for government forgiveness after 25 years if your income is low enough). On the plus side, if you reenter the nonprofit/government sector, you can reenter the program and pick up where you left off.
The way Georgetown and other law schools are able to have such a high salary threshold before you have to start to repay the loans is because they're building on the federal program - the federal program starts at around $40K, so Georgetown will pay your contribution if you're in a salary range between $40K and $75K. (I think that if you work in qualifying employment for less then ten years, then leave the program, you probably get to keep what the school gave you toward paying off the loans, but of course that'll depend on the school.) Each of the other non-YHS schools in the T14 (I didn't research others) seems to be offering a similar deal.
Depending on your circumstances, the federal program could be a great option. But it seems like Harvard's LIPP has the potential to provide a lot more flexibility in terms of employment that could be covered (private sector jobs that are "full-time and law related," like a small plaintiff-side firm, think tank, advocacy organization, etc, though of course I'm not sure how generous they are with accepting people with those types of jobs into the program - something I've been planning to investigate during ASW). And of course, with every year in the program, you're making significant progress toward paying off your loans.
(The other thing I wonder about in the back of my mind is whether the federal program is really a sure bet, given the state of education funding, and Congress/government in general, these days. It would be pretty abhorrent for them to repeal it and stick people with the responsibility to repay way more of their debt than they anticipated, but hey, it wouldn't be the first horrible thing that Congress has done. In that case, I'm sure that schools would step in to help, probably reinstating something close to their old programs, but of course then you're looking at a whole different repayment scheme.)
The federal program should be a great opportunity for a lot of law/graduate students, especially out of the T14, but I'm not convinced it's as generous as YHS, or even as a lot of the other top 6 or top 10 law schools' programs used to be (well, more generous in some ways, less in others). Most T14 schools seem to have changed their LRAP programs just in the last year or two to incorporate the federal program, so it's all very new. (Also, as a note, I asked, and Harvard has no intention to switch over to relying on the federal program, and they told me the reason for that is partly because they can afford to be more generous than that program.)
I think the key takeaway is (1) to thoroughly understand the federal program, and (2) to consider the factors that are going to be most important to you on an individual basis, because it'll be different for everyone. As you can probably tell, though, I personally have some reservations about relying on the federal program.