Many law schools have loan repayment assistance (LRAP) programs, but no two are run in exactly the same way. As a prospective law student, LRAPs may be of great interest to you in making your final choice about schools.
There are several key points you should consider when comparing LRAPs at other schools to the Low Income Protection Plan (LIPP), Harvard Law School’s program:
What kind of jobs are covered?
LIPP has among the broadest job coverage of LRAPs in existence. LIPP covers all public sector/government/academic jobs (whether law-related or not), and also covers law-related private sector jobs (like small firm jobs, firms outside of major cities, for-profit academic institutions, or “in-house counsel” for small businesses).
Does the LRAP use the standard repayment terms of the loans?
LIPP uses the standard repayment term (typically 10 years) of loans. This means that your LIPP benefits are based on the actual amount you are required to repay. Loan repayment assistance at some other schools is calculated on a longer repayment term, such as 15 years. By using an extended repayment term your benefits from the LRAP are smaller and you will make slower progress repaying your loans. In effect, that is like receiving assistance on 75% of your eligible loan debt instead of 100% of your eligible loan debt.
How long must you remain in the program? Is participation in the Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) required?
Some schools require you to repay all the LRAP benefits received unless you remain in the program for 3 to 5 years, or longer; LIPP has no such restrictions. HLS does not require participation in the PSLF in order to qualify for LIPP benefits. PSLF is a federal loan forgiveness program which requires a 10 year commitment to public service. By requiring participation in PSLF other schools are reducing the amount of the loan payments they are making on your behalf and limiting your career flexibility as you will not receive the federal forgiveness benefit unless you remain in public service for 10 full years. Moreover, if you do not meet the 10 year commitment, you may make little or no progress in reducing your outstanding student loan debt while participating in the PSLF program.
What loans are eligible for coverage?
LIPP eligible borrowing includes your law school education loans except borrowing done to replace the assessed student contribution. LIPP does cover borrowing done to replace assessed parent resources. In addition, up to $2,000 in approved borrowing for purchasing a computer and up to $15,000 in borrowing for bar-related expenses are LIPP eligible. LIPP also covers up to $50,000 of combined undergraduate debt and debt incurred while pursuing an approved joint degree program. LIPP covers student loans from both Federal and private lenders; LRAPs requiring participation in the FPSLFP typically cover only Federal student loans.
Is there a salary ceiling?
LIPP has no fixed salary ceiling. Each graduate’s salary “max out” point is determined by their need-based borrowing. The more eligible borrowing, the higher the salary that qualifies for LIPP.
Can you enter the LRAP at any time after graduation?
LIPP has no limiting “participation window.” As long as you are still repaying eligible education loans, you can qualify for LIPP assistance.
Are there allowances for dependents or parental leave?
LIPP covers loans during parental leave (for up to six months) and part-time work for participants with young children at an income level equivalent to the full-time salary.
Do I have to repay LRAP assistance if I leave my eligible job?
LIPP does not require participants to repay assistance, except in rare clerkship cases.
Please review the LIPP section of our website for more program details.