Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP)
The University of the McGeorge School of Law encourages its graduates to seek employment and service in the public interest. Students, faculty, and administration are firmly committed to providing assistance to graduates who, in the noblest traditions of the law, desire to use their legal education to assist the less fortunate.
Student loan obligations can virtually foreclose the option of applying one's legal education to serve those most in need of legal representation. Large debt burdens requiring extremely high monthly repayments, coupled with relatively low salaries, have significantly deterred students from pursuing their public interest aspirations. In order to meet their responsibility to ensure equal and adequate representation for all persons, the legal profession and this law school must acknowledge and address this problem. Society cannot afford to allow such public-minded legal talent to be forced into private sector positions solely because of economic necessity.
McGeorge responded to this concern in 1995 by implementing a loan repayment assistance program for those students pursuing public legal service. This program acts as a form of post-graduate aid, providing grants from the law school to help graduates reduce their monthly loan obligation, thus enabling them to accept public interest jobs. Graduates who maintain a long-term career in the public interest field can potentially receive this assistance until all of their loans are repaid.
- Make it financially feasible for McGeorge graduates to enter and remain in public interest legal careers.
- Make McGeorge more attractive to prospective students dedicated to public service. This program encourages a more economically and socially diverse student body with a broader range of professional aspirations than would otherwise be likely.
- Increase awareness of McGeorge's contributions to the legal community. LRAP together with McGeorge's non-profit clinical opportunities and course offerings outside the traditional legal scope (such as environmental and civil rights law) strengthen McGeorge's reputation of commitment to public service and public interest law.
The Financial Aid Office oversees the program pursuant to established guidelines and the directions of the Program Oversight Committee. The Program Oversight Committee consists of three faculty members with a commitment to public interest law, a representative of the Career Development Office, and a member of the Public Legal Services Society (PLSS) or the SBA President, if PLSS ceases to be a chartered student organization.
The Committee's responsibilities include:
- Acting as a consultant to the Financial Aid Office regarding any problems which might arise in the administration of the program. This includes interpreting and promulgating program rules and regulations to avoid potential abuses of the program.
- Considering positions not listed in the employment eligibility provisions as qualifying for admission to the program.
- Reviewing prevailing economic conditions, the size of the endowment fund, and predicted requests in order to determine annual allocations and project future expenditures.
- Reviewing grant applications and making awards.
To be eligible for LRAP, you must meet the following requirements:
- Qualifying Employment — To be eligible to receive LRAP grants, graduates must be licensed attorneys employed on a full-time basis in law-related capacities in non-profit organizations whose primary purpose is rendering representation on public interest issues to persons or organizations who could not otherwise obtain like services. Attorneys employed in government agencies are considered eligible; however, judicial clerks are not.
- Graduating Classes Eligible — Preference is given to recent graduates, but any graduate of McGeorge School of Law is eligible to apply for LRAP assistance.
- Qualifying Debt
- Minimum Debt Requirement — One of the objectives of the program is to help those graduates who are burdened with the greatest debt. Graduates must have a minimum debt equal to the sum of Federal Stafford Loans (formerly Guaranteed Student Loans) available while they were law students. The assumption is that graduates with debt levels below the minimum will be able to service their debt regardless of the level of their income.
- Eligible Debt — All loans incurred to finance law school will be eligible under the program, including Federal Stafford Loans, Federal Direct Loans, NDSL, Federal Perkins Loans, Federal Graduate PLUS Loans, and qualifying alternative loans. Personal bank loans and loans from family members will not be included. Undergraduate loan debt is not eligible debt. However, payments made to service undergraduate debt will be considered in determining grant eligibility.
- Qualifying Income — The Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) from the current IRS Form 1040 is used as the base income, plus any untaxed income and voluntary retirement contributions. LRAP allows the same deduction for dependents as allowed on the applicants' income tax returns. Married graduates will be treated as having the higher of (a) their respective incomes or (b) one-half of their joint income, whichever is greater. In the event that both partners are eligible for LRAP, their income and debt will be treated separately or as one-half of the total income and debt for each. In the event of insufficient available monies, the Oversight Committee may adjust LRAP funding.
The Financial Aid Office will distribute LRAP funds. Grants will be disbursed on a semi-annual basis. Prior to disbursement, recipients must sign statements certifying that they are still eligible for the grant.
LRAP grants are considered taxable income. A Form 1099 is sent to recipients for tax-preparation purposes. Those receiving grants are encouraged to consult a tax professional regarding any questions.
The LRAP Program grants depend on the number of eligible applicants. Funding sources include, but are not limited to:
- Alumni contributions
- Student contributions
- Faculty and Administration contributions
- Public Legal Services Society fundraising events
- Grants from foundations
- Other contributions from organizations such as bar associations, federal or state grants, and law firms.
Recognizing the difference this grant assistance can make to alumni career choices, the McGeorge community hopes that when recipients become financially able, they will contribute to LRAP's support for public service attorneys through their own generosity.