Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP)
The Law School's Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) offers a free law school education to University of Chicago Law School graduates who work in public interest for ten years.
Graduates with federal law school debt who secure and maintain eligible positions (earning a salary up to the cap) may apply for loan repayment assistance. This assistance comes in the form of a forgivable loan.
Graduates who are deemed eligible for LRAP will be required to sign and submit a promissory note for the total amount of the loan assistance offered. This loan will be forgiven at the end of the year as long as the graduate completes the required nine months of full-time work, as explained below. LRAP works along with the Income Based Repayment (IBR) and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).
Income Based Repayment (IBR)
The Income Based Repayment (IBR) plan is designed to make your student loan debt more manageable by reducing your monthly payment amount. IBR is generally 15% of your discretionary income, but never more than the 10-year Standard Repayment Plan amount.
Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF)
Graduates who secure and maintain positions that are eligible for PSLF will have their remaining debt discharged after ten years (120 on time payments) under PSLF. Graduates combining IBR and PSLF with the Law School's LRAP can have no loan debt without making any loan payments.
What LRAP Can Repay
All federal loans processed by the Student Loan Administration (SLA), and used to cover the standard cost of attendance at the Law School, will be considered eligible debt. Private alternative loans, personal loans, credit card, and consumer debt are not covered, nor are educational loans acquired at other institutions. All loans must be in good standing and in active repayment.
Employment and Income Requirements
A graduate must meet the following job requirements to qualify for funding through LRAP:
- Considered full-time as defined by your employer, working a minimum of 30 hours
- Position must be legal in nature, meaning you must be engaged in full-time practice of the law, or in a position normally requiring a law degree
- Position must be paid
- Position must not involve any conflicts of interest unless a waiver is provided
- Must have an income of no more than $80,000 (the income cap considers only the applicant's gross annual salary and excludes all assets and spousal income)
- Must be working at least nine months of the calendar year in which assistance is requested
- Must be working for the public interest broadly defined, including: a) Non-profit, defined as a 501(c)(3) organization; b) Judicial clerkship; c) Government office (federal, state, local or tribal); or d) U.S.-based international NGO
Graduates who participate in the University of Chicago post-graduate fellowship or public service initiative programs are also eligible for funding through LRAP.
Please Note: Graduates employed by the Law School, or those with unpaid positions such as internships and volunteer positions, do not qualify for assistance. Those with questions about eligible positions should contact the Financial Aid Office.
All participants with qualifying employment and salaries will be eligible to participate in the Law School's LRAP for ten years directly following graduation. These years do not need to be contiguous; a graduate may enter and exit the program at will. However, to reenter LRAP, graduates must continue to be enrolled, or re-enroll, in IBR.
LRAP Loan Requirements
- Applicants must be enrolled in Income Based Repayment (IBR).
- Only federal loans processed by the University of Chicago's Student Loan Administration (SLA) while enrolled at the Law School are eligible.
- Funding is only provided for IBR payments during the calendar year of participation.
- Participants are not permitted to place loans in deferment/forbearance for any month that funding has been provided.
Please Note: 2011 and 2012 graduates are able to choose between the Hormel Public Interest Program (HPIP) and LRAP. HPIP does not require a specific repayment plan and all loans processed by the University of Chicago's Student Loan Administration (SLA) while enrolled at the Law School are eligible. If you are a 2011 or 2012 graduate, and are unsure about which program to apply for, please contact the Financial Aid Office.
Required Repayment Plan
LRAP requires participants to place all of their eligible debt into Income-Based Repayment (IBR). LRAP will not cover loan payments for loans placed in other repayment plans.
The Law School will offer an annual loan equal to the amount of the total eligible yearly IBR payments. A participant will never be awarded more than the amount that he or she is required to pay by the Department of Education. Extra payments towards loans will not be supported under LRAP.
Please Note: If you pay a loan in full, your IBR payment and your eligible LRAP funding will be reduced.
What Happens If You Exit IBR
Graduates who choose to exit IBR will be subject to negative amortization by the Department of Education, meaning there may be an increase to the outstanding debt balance. Depending upon when a graduate exits, this could be a significant amount added to their debt load. To assist with this issue, the Law School will offer graduates who have completed at least five years of public service in LRAP a one-time $10,000 payout. Clerkship years are included in the five years required for the payout.
Important: If you need to consolidate your loans, please note that a Direct Consolidation Loan can take about 8 weeks. It is important to contact them as soon as possible if you need to have them process any paperwork for you.