LRAP Eligibility Guidelines - Through 2012
The Berkeley Law Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) is designed to aid Berkeley Law graduates who earned the Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree and wish to undertake qualifying public service employment for nonprofit public interest organizations or government agencies. Under this program, the School of Law will provide one or a series of forgivable loans over a period not to exceed 10 years to cover educational student loan payments to be made in the six-month period following the granting of each LRAP loan. Each LRAP loan, with the exception of the ones for judicial clerkships of less than two years (see Qualifying Employment), will be forgiven at the end of the six-month period and a new loan will be issued if all program requirements have been met.
The following guidelines are for the graduates of the Classes of 1997 through 2012 that provide two options for program participants. The first is the Standard Track that Berkeley Law has provided from 1997 through 2009, and the second is the Income Based Repayment (IBR) Track that is designed to provide greater support than the Standard Track because it integrates the LRAP with the federal government’s Income Based Repayment of federal student loans and Public Service Loan Forgiveness of federal Direct Loans. The integration allows the LRAP to provide support for student loan debt greater than $100,000 if the borrower elects to make the low monthly student loan payments provided by the IBR option.
The LRAP provides financial support to recent graduates who earned the J.D. and are employed in public service settings, where salaries are significantly lower than in the private sector. Graduates may participate in the program for up to 10 years.
LRAP constitutes a core component in Berkeley Law’s effort to serve as a public law school, in this case by increasing the ability of its graduates to enter into public service legal jobs and careers. The program aims to ease the financial burden imposed by the escalating costs of a legal education on recent alumni who might otherwise be excluded by economic considerations from accepting relatively low-paying public sector work. The program recognizes the value of public service as a goal for the law school itself and for the lawyers it trains generally, as well as the importance of freedom of career choice for Berkeley Law graduates.
To qualify for the LRAP, a graduate must work for a nonprofit organization or an agency of government in law-related employment that makes substantial use of legal skills.
LRAP loans will be granted on a semiannual basis, assisting participants with all qualified student loan payments to be made in the following six months. At the end of six months, the LRAP loan will be forgiven (canceled) when the participant demonstrates that he or she has met the employment and income requirements and made all the qualified educational loan payments. (See exception for participants in judicial clerkships of less than two years under Qualifying Employment.)
Because most educational loans offer a six-month grace period following graduation, graduates going directly into qualifying employment will not receive their first LRAP loan until approximately six months after graduation.
To be eligible for LRAP, an applicant must work in qualifying employment. Only loan repayments made while participants work in qualifying employment will be eligible for assistance with an LRAP loan and subsequent cancellation.
Qualifying employment is defined as greater than half-time work for a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization or an agency of government in law-related employment. It includes but is not limited to prosecutors, public defenders, military JAG corps, legislative staff, and administrative agency staff that make substantial use of legal skills, for example, by requiring passage of the bar or otherwise drawing heavily on law school training. Positions with international NGOs or foreign governments meeting the above requirements can qualify for LRAP coverage. Non-tenure and tenure track academic positions at nonprofit educational institutions, including but not limited to clinical instructors and research fellows, can also qualify. The inclusion of tenure track academic positions begins with the Class of 2012 JSP graduates who earned their JD at Berkeley Law. A preliminary review of prospective jobs by the LRAP Coordinator is available and encouraged.
Tenure track academic positions and most positions in private firms do not qualify.
Pilot Program for “Low Bono”/Union LRAP Coverage: The pilot program described in this paragraph is being extended to the Class of 2010 through 2021 only, in order to determine whether it is consistent with the goals and resources of the LRAP. It may be extended at a later date to future classes, on a pilot basis or otherwise. For the Class of 2010 through 2021, qualifying employment also includes greater than half-time work for a labor union organized under 501(c)(5) or for a public interest private sector firm where at least half of the work of the firm and of the applicant involves providing legal services on a pro bono, reduced-fee, or court-awarded fee basis to underrepresented persons or organizations, provided that the graduate opts for the IBR track. Eligibility under this pilot program will be determined on a case-by-case basis by the Financial Aid Office. At the discretion of the Financial Aid Office, self-employment may be deemed eligible if it meets the criteria for qualifying low bono private sector employment. Applicants for low bono LRAP assistance will be required to demonstrate that the proposed work meets the established criteria.
Judicial clerkships intended to last two or more years are considered qualifying employment. Judicial clerkships of less than two years qualify if the graduate intends to pursue public service employment immediately following the clerkship.
The forgivable loan for the latter type of judicial clerkship during each LRAP eligibility period will have an eight (8) percent interest rate and no requirement of payment so long as public interest employment is secured at the end of the clerkship. Each loan will be forgiven over a period of three years in qualifying LRAP employment (33 percent forgiven for each 12 months of qualifying employment). If the graduate fails to enroll in the LRAP on the cycle following the end of the clerkship or leaves qualifying employment at any time before the expiration of the three-year required work credit, the entire remaining balance of the loan will become due within one year.
LRAP does not cover graduates whose employment has been deferred and are receiving a fellowship or stipend to do volunteer public interest work before joining their private law firms. The program is designed to provide assistance solely to graduates who are pursuing public interest work or government employment.
Eligibility for LRAP loans, as well as the amount of the educational loans and the scheduled repayment of them, depends also on an applicant’s annualized full-time income. Annualized full-time income is the equivalent of the gross income reported in the Financial Statement and Personal Information section of the LRAP application. For those applicants working less than full-time, it includes salary adjusted for the calendar period employed and the number of hours worked per week.
A married participant’s annualized full-time income will not be adjusted unless his or her spouse has a higher income, in which case the participant’s eligible income will be calculated based on half of the joint income of the couple.
For program participants with an annualized full-time income of $65,000 or less, the LRAP loan shall equal the amount necessary to cover all scheduled payments for eligible educational student loans during the succeeding six-month period.
For participants with full-time annualized incomes greater than $65,000, the amount of program assistance will be prorated, with participants expected to make an imputed contribution. The imputed contribution will be equal to 35 percent of marginal income above $65,000.
The LRAP does not provide support to graduates whose annualized incomes are $100,000 or more.
Federal and private student loans provided by a U.S. lender qualify for LRAP. Federal student loans include Stafford subsidized and unsubsidized, Perkins, and Graduate PLUS loans. Except for the bar study loan, only private student loans that are certified by our office are eligible for LRAP.
The eligible loans will further depend upon whether the LRAP participant selects the Standard or IBR Track.
For graduates in the Standard Track, the LRAP will assist with repayments made on the principal and capitalized interest of federal and private educational loans borrowed for the J.D. Program. Any loan amount borrowed in excess of the student budget as determined by the Financial Aid Office for any particular year will not be eligible for LRAP assistance. The only exception is a bar study loan obtained for the post graduation period.
The overall cap on principal and capitalized interest for all loans covered by LRAP shall be $100,000 for law school loans, no more than $10,000 of which can be for bar study loans.
If the graduates are in the IBR Track, the overall loan cap is removed if the participants utilize the federal government’s Income Based Repayment option for all of their federal student loans. They may include federal student loans acquired prior to attending Berkeley Law.
For participants in this track, LRAP will support the repayment of no more than $10,000 in bar study loans and only the private educational loans obtained while earning the J.D. at Berkeley Law.
Once participants select the IBR Track, they cannot go back to the Standard Track for the remainder of their participation in the LRAP.
Berkeley Law graduates are eligible for their first LRAP loan at the end of their loan grace period, which normally is six months after graduation. Law students graduating in the spring and otherwise eligible will typically qualify for an LRAP loan the January following graduation, to cover the six-month period beginning that month and ending in June.
The maximum length of LRAP participation is 10 years. This length of eligibility provides LRAP participants in the Standard Track with financial support throughout the standard 10-year repayment plan. Participants who qualify for maximum assistance and who remain in the program for 10 years can expect to have LRAP pay off their entire educational student loan debt only if the loans are scheduled for a 10-year repayment plan.
For graduates in the IBR Track, 10 years of LRAP support will enable them to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness of federal Direct student loans that the federal government provides to borrowers who meet the requirements of qualifying student loan payments and employment. If participants have Federal Family Educational Loan Program Stafford Loans and Perkins Loans that they wish to have forgiven, they should consolidate them in a federal Direct Consolidation Loan.
If a graduate attended Berkeley Law for only two years, the maximum number of years of LRAP support is seven years or two-thirds of 10 years because the graduate paid only two years or two-thirds of the Professional Degree Fee, the primary source of funding for the program, that all other graduates paid. However, if the graduate utilizes the Income Based Repayment option for all federal student loans, 10 years of LRAP support will be provided for the IBR payments.
On a semiannual basis, LRAP will provide each participant a forgivable loan equal to his or her scheduled student loan payments less any imputed contribution to be made on the principal and capitalized interest of eligible loans during the subsequent six-month period. The highest interest rate covered by the program is 8.25 percent.
For participants in the Standard Track, payments made in excess of those due under a 10-year repayment schedule are not eligible for assistance. Although the program will assist with payments made on an amortization schedule greater than 10 years, the amount of LRAP loans forgiven will be no more than the actual scheduled loan payments made. Participants cannot apply for a LRAP loan based on a 10-year repayment schedule, make payments that are less than that, and expect the entire LRAP loan to be forgiven. To take maximum advantage of the LRAP, participants in the Standard Track are advised to structure the repayment of their debt with a standard 10-year repayment plan.
The LRAP will not provide support in the IBR Track for student loan payments in excess of those scheduled for private and bar study loans and Income Based Repayment of federal student loans. Full IBR repayment assistance is limited to single households or married borrowers who file separate federal tax returns. Although the program will assist with payments for non-federal loans made on an amortization schedule greater than 10 years, the amount of LRAP loans canceled will be no more than the actual scheduled loan payments made.
For the IBR Track, participants cannot apply for an LRAP loan based on a 10-year or more repayment schedule for their non-federal loans, make payments less than the ones scheduled, and have the entire LRAP loan forgiven. To make maximum use of the LRAP, participants are advised to structure the repayment of their student loan debt with a 10-year schedule for private and bar study loans and Income Based Repayment for their federal Direct student loans.
If the participant’s public service legal employment does not meet the requirements for federal government’s Public Service Loan Forgiveness because it is with an NGO or foreign government, the LRAP will provide support to him or her for up to 25 years if he or she is making Income Based Repayments and his or her public service employment meets the LRAP’s requirement while continuing to be employed by the NGO or foreign government.
For most participants, the LRAP loan will be equal to six months of scheduled loan payments, less any imputed contribution.
Graduates may receive LRAP support during periods of paid and unpaid medical and family leave while employed. It includes medical, parental and family medical care leave. Parental leave includes birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child. For family medical care leave, family members include spouse, children, parents, siblings and grandparents.
The LRAP will provide up to six months of support for each incidence of leave and no more than a total of 24 months of support during the 10 years of participation in the program.
The maximum amount of support that the LRAP will provide is the scheduled standard payments for private student loans and IBR payments for federal student loans.
Graduates may obtain an application form from the Berkeley Law Web site or Financial Aid Office. Submitted applications must contain all pertinent information regarding educational loans, employment and income. The application deadlines are May 1 for the July-December eligibility period and November 1 for the January-June eligibility period. The LRAP Coordinator will inform applicants about their eligibility and provide approved applicants with the promissory note and statement of rights and responsibilities for their LRAP forgivable loan. Program participants will not receive their forgivable loan until they complete and return their promissory note and statement of rights and responsibilities to the Berkeley Law Financial Aid Office.
LRAP participants must apply for the cancellation of their LRAP forgivable loan at the end of each eligibility period. They must submit their application by August 31 for the January-June eligibility period and February 28 for the July-December eligibility period. The LRAP Coordinator will inform participants whether their forgivable loan has been canceled.
The Financial Aid Office encourages students and graduates to consult with the LRAP Coordinator regarding LRAP eligibility prior to submitting an application if they have questions or concerns about their eligibility for the program. If an application is denied, the applicant may submit an appeal to the Assistant Dean of Financial Aid. If the appeal is denied, the applicant may submit an appeal to the Dean of the Law School.
In the event that funding is not sufficient to fully fund all qualified applicants in the manner anticipated above, the law school will select LRAP recipients and determine award levels; available funds may be disbursed pro rata, or awards may be adjusted on an individual basis considering salary and total loan indebtedness.