Loan Repayment Program FAQ
The purpose of the Law School’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) is to alleviate the debt burden of our graduates who work in public interest. To that end, we have designed a simple, generous, and inclusive program that offers the University of Chicago Law School graduate who works in public interest for ten years a free Law School education.
Who qualifies for the new program?
The class of 2013 will be the first class entirely under the new LRAP. The Classes of 2011 and 2012 may elect to use the new LRAP or the prior loan repayment program, HPIP.
What about graduates prior to 2011?
Those having graduated prior to 2011 are not eligible for this new program; instead, they may seek assistance through the loan repayment program applicable to their class year. For more information, please contact the Financial Aid Office.
To qualify, what kind of position must I secure?
Any graduate seeking assistance under LRAP must be engaged in the full-time practice of law, or in a position normally requiring a law degree; working for the public interest broadly defined; in a non-profit organization or government office, other than legal academia; or a participant in the University of Chicago post-graduate fellowship or public service initiative. The Financial Aid and Public Interest Committees will review and determine eligibility. If you have questions about eligibility, please contact the Financial Aid Office.
Do judicial clerkships qualify?
Yes, all full-time post-graduate state or federal judicial clerkships qualify as eligible positions. The Law School is proud of the high number of graduates who clerk and we are committed to supporting their service.
Can I receive assistance even if I am not sure that I will continue working in a public interest position after I complete my judicial clerkship?
Yes, you absolutely may receive assistance while you are a judicial clerk regardless of whether you continue in a public sector position after your clerkship. Each year that you would like to participate in the program, you must complete and submit an application that will be reviewed by the Financial Aid and Public Interest Committees. If you qualify for the program, you will be offered an award for that year only. The following year, if you would like to continue with the program, you may submit an updated application.
What are the salary requirements?
The LRAP is one of the most generous of its kind. Graduates earning up to $80,000 annually may participate in the program provided they have met all other requirements.
If I am married, is my spouse’s income considered?
No, we do not factor in spousal income or personal assets. For the Law School only your salary, your position, and your commitment are relevant. Please note IBR does consider spousal income if income taxes are filed jointly and you must be enrolled in IBR to qualify for LRAP.
Which loans are covered under the Law School's LRAP?
All federal loans, certified by the Student Loan Administration (SLA), used to cover the standard cost of law school attendance are eligible for inclusion. Transfer students may receive assistance only for loans acquired at the University of Chicago Law School.
Must I select a specific federal repayment program if I would like to participate?
Yes, all loans must be placed into Income-Based Repayment (IBR). This repayment plan calculates your monthly payment based on your income instead of your loan debt. Individuals who participate in IBR are never required to pay more than 15% of their discretionary income towards their loans.
Where can I find out more about my federal student loans, including consolidation or IBR?
The Federal Student Aid website is the best source for information on federal student loans. The "How do I manage my loans?" section provides all the important details about repayment plans and loan consolidation.
How much of my yearly loan payment will be covered by the Law School?
Each year that you work full-time in a qualifying position, and earn an income up to the salary cap, LRAP will cover the full amount of your IBR payments relating to your University of Chicago Law School loans.
How long can I be enrolled in the Law School's LRAP?
The Law School will assist you for up to ten years after graduation as long as you remain enrolled in IBR; after 10 years (120 on time payments) of enrollment in IBR, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program will discharge any remaining federal student loan debt.
This means that a graduate who engages in qualifying work for 10 years, earns up to $80,000 and maintains enrollment in IBR, can receive a FREE University of Chicago Law School education!
What if I need to take time off from public interest work?
LRAP allows graduates to enter and exit the program at any time during their ten years of eligibility. Please note you must have nine months of eligible employment in a calendar year or complete your full clerkship to have your LRAP funding forgiven.
What if I am taking a parental leave?
A parental leave includes the birth of a child and/or to care for the newborn child within one year of birth, the placement with the participant of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement. LRAP provides two options for parental leave.
(1) LRAP provides participants parental leave for 3 months (12 weeks); these participants receive full LRAP benefits for the calendar year in which a participant takes a parental leave.
(2) LRAP also provides participants who want to take a parental leave of more than 3 months in a calendar year and are therefore unable to qualify for LRAP that year, an additional year of eligibility.
What if I elect to discontinue my career in public service?
While we encourage graduates to continue careers in public interest, we understand that there are many factors influencing one’s career choices. It is important to know that if you leave public service, and discontinue IBR before the completion of the ten years, you will likely see a negative amortization of your loans. To assist with this consequence, the Law School is offering graduates having completed at least five years of service, a one-time $10,000 payout.
Is there anything else that I should know?
Yes, if you are interested in learning more about the program, please contact the Law School's Financial Aid Office. Eligible graduates interested in applying for any loan repayment assistance should schedule an appointment for loan counseling in the spring quarter. The application will be available on the Law School website in mid-October.
Finally, it is important to note that the Law School’s program works in concert with both the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and the Income-Based Repayment (IBR). Both of these programs are subject to federal approval. Should there be changes in federal programming, the Law School's LRAP will be adjusted accordingly.