Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP)
Starting with the Class of 2023, the Law School's new Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) offers a University of Chicago Law School education at low or no cost to graduates who work in public interest for ten years. Many earlier Law School graduating classes, up to and including the class of 2022, may petition to make a switch to this more flexible new LRAP, if they choose.
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, with a maximum benefit of $15,000 per year. 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 and has made the required loan payments, as explained below. LRAP works along with the Income Based Repayment (IBR), Pay as You Earn (PAYE), Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE), and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF).
Please refer to the 2019 Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) Document for more detailed information on the old LRAP program. Eligible graduates under the old LRAP plan can petition to switch to the current LRAP plan. Once in the current plan, graduates cannot switch to the old plan.
Income Driven Repayment (IDR)
The Income Driven Repayment (IDR) plans are designed to make your student loan debt more manageable by reducing your monthly payment amount. IDR is generally 10% or 15% of your discretionary income depending on which plan you choose, but never more than the 10-year Standard Repayment Plan amount. All IDR plans considered eligible for Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) (IBR, PAYE, and REPAY) except for the Income Contingent Repayment (ICR) plan qualify for LRAP.
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. It is possible for graduates to eliminate their law school loan debt without making out of pocket loan payments if they combine their IDR plan and PSLF with the Law School’s LRAP.
What LRAP Can Repay
All federal loans processed by the Student Loan Administration (SLA)/Graduate Financial Aid (GFA) while enrolled at the Law School and used to cover the standard cost of attendance 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.
Funding is only provided for qualifying IDR payments during the calendar year of participation.
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 a salary of no more than $80,000 (the salary cap considers only the applicant's gross annual salary and excludes all assets and spousal income)
- Those whose salary exceeds $80,000, but is less than $90,000 can contact the Financial Aid Office to inquire about a petition for a partial LRAP payment.
- 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 a qualifying IDR.
Required Repayment Plan
LRAP requires participants to place all of their eligible debt into Income Driven Repayment (IDR) plan. LRAP will not cover loan payments for loans placed in other repayment plans or in ICR.
Participants are not permitted to place loans in deferment/forbearance for any month that funding has been provided.
If you need to consolidate your loans, please note that a Direct Consolidation Loan can take about 8 weeks. It is important to contact your loan servicer as soon as possible if you need to have them process any paperwork for you.
Please Note: 2019 - 2022 graduates are able to choose between this new LRAP and the old LRAP. Students in the old LRAP can petition to make a switch to the new LRAP. If you are a graduate and are unsure about which program to apply for, please contact the Financial Aid Office.
The Law School will offer an annual loan equal to the amount of the total eligible yearly IDR payments, not to exceed the maximum benefit of $15,000. 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.
To remain eligible monthly payments are required. If any additional/prepayments are made, these payments cannot modify/effect your monthly payment amount. Also, if you pay a loan in full, your IDR payment and your eligible LRAP funding will be reduced.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who qualifies for the LRAP?
Graduates from the Class of 2023 to present. 2019 - 2022 graduates are able to choose between this new LRAP and the old LRAP. Graduates in the old LRAP can petition to make a switch to the new LRAP. If you are a graduate and are unsure about which program to apply for, please contact the Financial Aid Office. Please note, 2019 - 2020 graduates who are able to chose between the two programs are not able to change programs once funding has been provided under one of the programs.
What about graduates prior to 2011?
Those having graduated prior to 2011 are no longer eligible for any loan repayment assistance program.
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. 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. 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. Students who exceed $80,000 but fall below $90,000 can appeal to the committee for a percentage of their LRAP payment to be covered.
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)/Graduate Financial Aid (GFA), 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 IDR?
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 a University of Chicago Law School education at no out of pocket cost.
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.
If you leave your qualifying employment before you have completed your nine months of required employment and you do not continue in qualifying employment, you will be required to repay all or part of your funding. The amount is determined by the Committee.
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.
What happens if I exit my IDR Plan?
Graduates who choose to exit IDR 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.
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. Please note the Financial Aid Office is only able to speak to eligible graduates and not anyone representing a graduate.
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-Driven Repayment Plans (IBR, PAYE, REPAYE). 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.