The Ideal of Public Service and The Reality of Bills to Pay
"To make the world a better place." That noble ambition attracts many new students each year to the University of Georgia School of Law.
But going to law school can be an expensive proposition. Graduates who would like very much to spend a few years, or a lifetime, in the field of public interest law sometimes must postpone or abandon the dream, taking higher paying jobs in the private sector to make enough money to repay law school loans.
The Law School's Downs' Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) is an economic helping hand that can make possible a more rewarding life in the law.
Through LRAP Annual Grants, the program provides graduates employed in the field of public interest law with funds to help repay loans for legal education.
Q. Does the job I'll be doing count as employment in the field of public interest law?
A. If you'll be doing legal work, if the job requires the Juris Doctor degree, and if your employer is a qualifying organization, then you should apply. Summer employment during law school does not count. Further details are available in the LRAP Charter.
Q. Are LRAP Annual Grants available to repay loans for undergraduate school?
A. Not exactly. To be eligible for an LRAP Annual Grant, you must have "qualified debt," defined as "debt incurred to pay the expenses of legal education and owed to an institution or governmental lender." But in awarding LRAP Annual Grants, the Student Affairs Committee will take into account a number of factors, including any outstanding undergraduate loans.
Q. Suppose I want to move out of the field of public interest law after a year or two. What happens to the grant?
A. You must agree to remain employed in the field of public interest law for two years for an initial grant and for one year for any subsequent grant. If you don't follow through, you may be required to repay some or all of the grant funds.
Q. Does it matter how much income I'll have from my job and other sources?
A. Yes. All sources of income are taken into account and evaluated along with debt burden in making award determinations.
Q. Am I guaranteed an LRAP Annual Grant if I meet all of the qualifications?
A. No. Because funds for the program are limited, the Student Affairs Committee will have to decide among many deserving applicants.
Q. If I am awarded an initial LRAP Annual Grant, am I guaranteed subsequent grants?
A. No. You can count on funding only for the year of the grant, even if the grant is an initial grant and you have promised to continue working in the field of public interest law for an additional year. But the Student Affairs Committee may count your status as an existing recipient strongly in your favor.
Q. How much?
A. The amount of any LRAP Annual Grant will vary depending on such factors as the funds available to the Student Affairs Committee.
Q. How do I apply for an LRAP Annual Grant?
A. Application forms and LRAP Charters are available from the Student Professional Development Office. Read the LRAP Charter, then complete the application form and return the completed form to the Student Professional Development Office. The deadline for submitting completed applications is midnight on December 31, 2014. The Student Affairs Committee plans to award one or more annual grants by spring of 2015.
The Downs' Loan Repayment Assistance Program is administered by the Director of Student Professional Development in conjunction with the law school's Student Affairs Committee.
For addition information, contact Beth Shackleford, Director of the Office of Student Professional Development, or call (706)542-5156.