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LRAP: Washington University School of Law
Published July 2010, last updated December 2012.
Classes of 2010 and beyond (LRAP II)
For Washington University students graduating in 2010 or later, the university has instituted a much simpler and somewhat more generous loan repayment assistance program (LRAP). This program is known as LRAP II, the old as LRAP I. Essentially, according to the law school, students who are taking advantage of income-based repayment (IBR) and are employed in qualifying public interest jobs paying less than $70,000 in annual gross income can use the program to pay 6% of their income to satisfy their debt. The minimum eligible debt is $20,000 (which may include undergraduate debt), and the employment must be law-related at a qualifying 501(c)(3) organization or a government unit. Judicial clerks are not eligible for the program.
Classes of 2009 and earlier: Mel Brown Family Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP I)
How it Works
Washington University School of Law (WUSTL) graduates enrolled in the Mel Brown Family Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) receive a fully forgivable loan to help meet law school loan repayment. Loan amounts are determined based on income and given as a percentage of yearly debt obligation. Loans are disbursed twice yearly and forgiven at the end of each six month period provided the graduate remains in eligible employment.
Participants are expected to seek funding from other LRAP sources prior to receiving WUSTL LRAP funding. WUSTL LRAP funding will be reduced by the amount of alternative LRAP funding received.
Graduates may participate in the program for as long as they are eligible and may leave and return to the program at will. However, benefits are based on at least a twenty-year repayment plan.
Graduates must be employed full-time in nonprofit or government work. If the graduate can demonstrate the position serves and/or benefits those traditionally underrepresented, private sector employment may qualify. In any case, the employment should be law related, unless the graduate can convince the LRAP Policy Committee that the position makes use of the graduate’s legal education and is in line with the goals of the program.
Graduates may not have a gross annual income exceeding $55,000.
Judicial clerkships are not eligible but graduates may enroll after completion of the clerkship.
Graduates must have at least $20,000 in principal loan balance at the time of entry into the program. While only law school debt is eligible for repayment assistance, other educational debt may be included in meeting this $20,000 minimum. The program will not cover more than the total of WUSTL institutional loans.
Calculation of Graduate’s LRAP Award
WUSTL will provide a forgivable loan to meet a certain percentage of your loan repayment, depending on your income:
The income figure used in this calculation is determined differently for single and married participants. If you are not married and not in a domestic partnership, your income for the purposes of LRAP benefit calculation is your gross income minus your non-law educational debt obligation minus any dependent deductions. (The amount of the dependent deduction is equal to the amount taken on the personal exemptions section of the federal tax form.)
Things become more complex if you are married or in a domestic partnership. The participant gets to pick between two scenarios:
(1) if the spouse/partner has very little or no income, the income figure for calculations is their combined income minus $10,000 for a spousal living allowance minus any dependent deductions minus any educational debt obligation (not including the graduate’s law debt);
(2a) if the spouse/partner has a more substantial income and his/her income (minus educational loan obligations) is greater than the participant’s, then the income figure is ½ the joint income after deducting all non-WUSTL Law loans and any dependent allowances;
(2b) if the spouse/partner has a more substantial income but said income (minus educational loan obligations) is less than the participant’s income, then the income figure is the graduate’s income minus the graduate’s non-law educational debt obligation minus ½ of the dependent allowances.
It is important to note that your benefits are given out on the assumption that you have placed your loans on a repayment schedule according to the following table:
Since LRAP benefits are based on a percentage of your yearly law school debt obligation, putting your loans on an extended repayment (as assumed) will reduce the amount of your LRAP benefits. In addition, a longer repayment plan means paying much more interest over the lifetime of the repayment. However, there is no predetermined cap to the length of LRAP participation.
Assets can affect LRAP award amounts. Assets include cash/savings, home equity, real estate/investment equity, and trusts/inheritances. Total assets are assumed to be split equally if married. Graduates have a certain amount of protected assets that will not affect LRAP benefits. In the first year after graduation this amount is equal to $5,000 and increases $3,500 each year. (So, e.g., a participant in her 5th year would be allowed $19,000 in protected assets - $5,000 for the first year and $3,500 for the next four.)
If total assets exceed the amount of protected assets, then the award amount will be modified. The amount of unprotected assets is divided by the total eligible loan amount (i.e. the original principal amount of institutionally approved loans), and your award is reduced by this fraction. For example, a graduate with $17,000 in total assets and an $8,500 protected asset amount would have $8,500 in unprotected assets. If his total eligible loan amount was $85,000, his LRAP award would be reduced by 10% ($8,500/$85,000).
Let’s explore just a few hypotheticals to see how WUSTL’s LRAP might function. In all situations below I assume the graduate receives the full amount for which he/she is eligible. It is advised that you consult with the WUSTL Financial Aid Office to determine the likelihood of this occurrence. (On the table of contents page you will find links to websites I used to calculate federal tax burden and yearly student debt obligations. Using these, you can input your own variables. Keep in mind that the take-home income amount does not reflect state or local taxes. Treat all hypothetical scenarios and amounts as approximations.)
Final Thoughts on the Washington University School of Law Mel Brown Family Loan Repayment Assistance Program
WUSTL has a set amount of LRAP funding. In any given year, it is possible that the requests for funding would outstrip the resources available. If this is the case, actual disbursements will be made on a prorated basis.
The WUSTL LRAP does not require that you enroll in IBR, although it may be beneficial to do so in order to take advantage of the federal government’s loan forgiveness program. Perhaps in the near future WUSTL will dovetail their LRAP with IBR, like so many other schools are doing. As it stands, WUSTL’s LRAP is amongst the most complex LRAPs available, and perhaps needlessly so.
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