The Public Service Initiative (PSI) was offered as a pilot program for students admitted during the 2009 admissions season or earlier. Students admitted after September 1, 2009 are eligible for a successor initiative, the Public Service Venture Fund, to support public service work.
Recipients of PSI grants must take an eligible public service job (or a clerkship) immediately after graduating from law school and must remain in an eligible job for five consecutive years. For clerkships, limited credit toward the five-year commitment will be given as described below. All graduates with PSI grants must report their job status to HLS at regular intervals. Final decisions on job qualification will be made by an HLS Public Service Initiative Committee. Under the Initiative, public service work is defined as:
- Any full time job for a governmental unit, which includes federal, military, state, or local government, or the overseas equivalent.
- Any full time job for a nonprofit 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4), or 501(c)(5) organization or the overseas equivalent, with the exception of jobs at higher education institutions.
- Any full time job for a political campaign.
Up to one year of a clerkship can qualify toward the five year commitment. Graduates taking a second clerkship year must complete four more years of public service work after the second clerkship year.
Higher education and academia
Jobs at institutions of higher education do not meet the public service work requirement of the Public Service Initiative, with the exception of clinical teaching fellowships that require substantial public interest practice similar to that required in a legal public interest job. Examples of eligible fellowships include, but are not limited to, Prettyman Fellowships (Georgetown), Women’s Law & Public Policy Fellowships (Georgetown), and Sacks Fellowships (HLS). Students considering such fellowships should ask the Public Service Initiative Committee for an advance determination of their eligibility.
Academic fellowships that are intended to prepare fellows to become academics, such as Climenko Fellowships (HLS), do not meet the public service work requirement. Graduates in these and other non-qualifying jobs in higher education can qualify for LIPP assistance based on their income and eligible debt.
Private sector, private public interest firms
Jobs in the private sector, including jobs at private public interest firms, do not meet the public service work requirement of the Public Service Initiative. Graduates in these jobs can qualify for LIPP assistance based on their income and eligible debt.
Self employment, part-time work, and periods of unemployment
Self-employment, part-time work, and periods of unemployment or volunteer engagement do not meet the public service work requirement. Temporarily unemployed graduates can request short-term suspension of the repayment requirement while they are between jobs; they must still complete 60 full months of qualifying employment.