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TLS Guide to LRAP (Loan Repayment Assistance Programs)
Many incoming law students profess a desire to practice public interest law upon graduation. For whatever reason, a sizeable percentage of these end up employed in the private sector. Perhaps some had a legitimate change of heart. A lucky few voluntarily chose a prestigious firm with a lucrative salary. Others never intended to work in the public interest, but only expressed that desire in an attempt to appear attractive to admissions committees. But all too many were forced into an unwanted career due to the restrictions imposed by their student loan repayment obligations.
According to the U.S. News and World Report’s figures, the average amount of debt for students from nine of the fourteen top schools exceeds $100,000. And according to the NALP, the median salary for an entry-level attorney at a public interest organization in 2008 was $41,000. Without some type of assistance, this amount of debt is likely unmanageable on that salary. For this reason, many top law schools have Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAPs) which are intended to make low-paying careers a possibility for their recent graduates. The federal government has also introduced a program called “Income-Based Repayment” (IBR) which applies to federal student loans. [For more on IBR, check out IBR: An Explanation].
Depending on the school, these LRAP programs vary widely in their details and levels of support. In general, an award is provided based on your income and debt obligation which helps bridge the gap between what you might reasonably be expected to contribute and what you owe. Below, you will find links to articles which explain the basics of several top law schools’ LRAP.
Disclaimer: Use these articles as a starting point for your own research. It is your responsibility to ensure that the facts contained herein are accurate. There are many unique situations which cannot be addressed in an overview. Contact the Financial Aid Office of the respective school if, after reading the school’s own materials, you are unsure about how the program’s terms or conditions might apply to your situation.
Yale Law School – Career Options Assistance Program (COAP)
Note: Tax calculations were done using http://www.moneychimp.com/features/tax_brackets.htm. Loan repayment calculations were done using http://www.finaid.org/calculators/loanpayments.phtml. Debt figures for the schools were estimated using http://visualizelaw.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/truevalue1.png.