Loan Repayment Assistance Programs

Background on the Issue

Many of today's law graduates are faced with law school debt of more than $150,000 upon graduation. With a median starting public interest salary in civil legal aid in the mid $40,000s and only somewhat higher for public defenders and prosecutors, these mortgage-size debts bar many graduates from pursuing public service legal jobs.  

Loan repayment assistance programs ("LRAPs") have emerged as a solution for relieving the debt burden of some law graduates. LRAPs provide loan repayment or forgiveness or lower loan payments to graduates entering specific types of employment, usually law-related public interest jobs. Most LRAPs contain limits on the amount of income a recipient can earn while participating in such a program. There are various types of LRAPs, administered by law schools, state bar associations and foundations and federal and state governments, providing debt relief to some law graduates. 

Key ABA Publications on LRAP

Lifting the Burden: Law Student Debt as a Barrier to Public Service, The Final Report of the ABA Commission on Loan Repayment and Forgiveness

This 2003 Report provides an analysis of the educational debt problem, discusses the impact of the problem on the legal profession and society, summarizes strategies that have been developed to help address the problem and highlights some success stories using these methods.
State LRAP Tool Kit: A Resource Guide for Creating State Loan Repayment Assistance Programs for Public Service Lawyers
The Tool Kit, published in 2003, contains a wealth of information about creating statewide, as opposed to law school-specific, loan repayment assistance or forgiveness programs for lawyers pursuing public service legal jobs. (Please note that descriptions of specific statewide loan repayment assistance programs may be out of date).