Dean Robert C. Clark has announced an extensive expansion of Harvard Law School’s loan forgiveness program, making it one of the most generous programs of its kind in the country.

The School’s Low Income Protection Plan (LIPP), the oldest program of its kind in the country, forgives loans for HLS graduates who are working in law-related jobs and who are struggling with high educational debt obligations. Harvard Law School students currently graduate with an average law school debt level of approximately $70,000.

Under new guidelines, alumni earning less than $31,000 — the salary level for many legal services providers and local government attorneys — will receive full loan forgiveness.

Another major reform concerns alumni with children — the program has increased dependency allowances, expanded coverage for parental leave, and expanded benefits for alumni working on a part-time basis after having children.

The School also has increased the salary ceiling for alumni to be eligible for loan forgiveness from $51,000 to $72,000. This increase is intended to keep alumni, such as those who are providing public service as federal government employees or as executives of public interest organizations, from being abruptly forced out of the LIPP program.

Other changes include new coverage of loans related to expenses for judicial clerkships and job interviews, and the lowering the interest rate on LIPP loans.

“I am very happy that Harvard Law School is able to make these positive changes to its loan forgiveness program,” said Dean Robert Clark. “I am very grateful to the many loyal graduates whose continued strong support makes them possible,” he said.

For the past year and a half, the School’s Financial Aid Committee has worked in conjunction with students and as part of the School’s Strategic Planning Process to build a stronger LIPP program. Their recommendations, approved by Dean Clark, include the following.

Harvard Law School established LIPP in 1978 as the first program of its kind in the country. In 1987 the late Dean James Vorenberg expanded the program, making it one of the most generous programs of its kind in the country.

More than 250 alumni benefit from LIPP while serving as, among others, district and state’s attorneys, public defenders, employees of federal agencies, legal services providers, and judicial clerks. The LIPP program costs Harvard Law School more that $1.5 million a year.