Income Based Repayment (IBR)
"Low Bono" and Union Coverage Pilot Program
What job positions qualify for LRAP?
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.
Will I qualify for LRAP if I work part-time?
In order to be eligible for LRAP you must be working greater than half-time as defined by your employer. To be eligible for Public Servicer Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), you must meet your employer's definition of full-time. However, for PSLF purposes, that definition must be at least an annual average of 30 hours per week.
Please note that you are required to report gross income for multiple jobs if you are simultaneously reducing your hours and pursing other employment.
I secured employment with a private law firm and was offered a 1-year public interest deferred fellowship with a $50,000 stipend prior to the beginning of my employment. If my placement is considered LRAP qualifying employment, will I qualify for LRAP?
LRAP is designed to solely provide assistance to graduates who are pursuing public interest work or government employment as a career. Graduates receiving such deferred fellowships do not meet the LRAP qualifying employment requirement because they have not relinquished their employment with the firm that is providing the fellowship. The employment has been, deferred, but not terminated.
What documents do I need to submit with my application?
Checklists for first-time and continuing applicants can be found in the "How to Apply for LRAP" page. Please note that IBR track applicants must submit an IBR statement as well as a renewal date.
When can I apply?
You can apply within 3.5 years after graduation. If you are eligible, your contract begins with the month you submitted your application. Please note that contracts are not awarded retroactively.
When can I reapply?
Continuing participants should reapply 30 days before the scheduled end date in the current contract.
Can I voluntarily waive the grace periods for my loans and begin my loan payments and LRAP participation?
No, LRAP coverage begins at the end of your grace period for federal loans, which is generally in December.
What steps should I take to conclude my LRAP participation?
You should submit a cancellation application including the last paystub and payment history. You should do this within 30 days of your contract ending.
I am a newly admitted student. Will LRAP still be around by the time I graduate?
Absolutely. Berkeley Law is committed to supporting its public interest graduates.
How will the reduced funding due to California's budget crisis affect LRAP?
Our LRAP is funded primarily by the Professional Degree Fee and is not dependent on state funding.
Can I schedule a one-on-one appointment?
Absolutely. To schedule an LRAP counseling session please go to our online appointment scheduler. Select the date and time and indicate any additional items you wish to discuss during our meeting. If you’d like a text message reminder of the appointment, simply provide a cell phone number. Standard text messaging rates apply. Please note that text messages are sent from an automated system that does not accept replies or phone calls.
Our office is located at 396 Simon Hall, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720-7200.
You’ll receive a confirmation email once your appointment is scheduled. If you need to cancel or reschedule the appointment please follow the link in the confirmation email.
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I make over $65,000. How does that impact coverage of my payments?
Once your income goes over $65,000, you are expected to contribute 35% of every dollar over $65,000.
How does my clerkship impact my participation in LRAP?
Completion of a two-year clerkship satisfies the employment requirement for LRAP. If you experience no salary change, you are entitled to the received funds. If your salary changed during your contract we would calculate the new imputed contribution and bill you for the LRAP that you were ineligible for.
If you don't finish the second year at the clerkship, you would need to enter qualifying employment (either at a 501(c)(3) or government entity) immediately following the clerkship. Once you have worked a total of two years, you will have met the employment requirement for LRAP.
How does unemployment impact my LRAP participation?
If you are unemployed during your LRAP contract, you are not eligible for LRAP during the period of time you are not working. The change in employment will be addressed through the cancellation process. If you received LRAP funds in excess of your eligibility, we will bill you for that amount.
How does my spouse or partner's income factor into LRAP?
Your annual full-time income will not be adjusted unless your spouse has a higher income, in which case we will average the gross income. Please note that you will no longer be eligible for LRAP participation if the average income exceeds $100,000.
How does having children factor into LRAP?
LRAP grants dependent deductions toward your imputed contribution at $6,000 for the first child and $4,000 for the next. Also, child support is considered income for LRAP purposes.
Why is my contract length set for six months instead of twelve?
The financial aid office occasionally needs to reduce the length of LRAP contracts to ensure funding for all qualified participants. Occasionally we offer contracts that are less than a year.
How do I find out what agency services my loans?
If you are unsure on the agency that services your loans, you should review www.nslds.gov as it will list your loan servicer. Once you've located your loan servicer, you can create an online account to access your balance and payment information. You may need to get a payment history from Direct Loans and your new loan servicer.
I was under the impression that the $100,000 student loan cap applied to the total principal only. Can you explain?
While in school your loans accrue interest and it is capitalized once you start repayment after the grace period. Your monthly payment amount is based on the total of your original disbursement and the capitalized interest. If you opted for the Standard LRAP track, you will receive support for monthly payments for up to $100,000 in student loans including capitalized interest.
I noticed on the website that the cap on principal and capitalized interest covered by the Standard track is $100k. Does that mean I will be responsible for making my own payments for the extra $50k I will owe, even if I am earning less than $65,000 per year?
Yes, that is correct. Graduates with student loan debt over $100,000 have the option to enroll into the IBR track. You may schedule a telephone appointment with the LRAP coordinator for a comparison analysis tailored to your specific situation.
What does the standard track cover?
The standard track only covers loans borrowed while attending Boalt and bar study loans up to $10k. This track is only available for graduates of the class of 2012 and before.
What is negative amortization?
Negative amortization occurs when the payments on a loan are less than the interest that accrues, causing the balance owed on the loan to increase.
For our negative amortization protection program, if you stay in the LRAP program for at least 3 years and leave before completing 7 years, you can request negative amortization protection. If you request negative amortization protection the accrued interest while participating in the LRAP program will be paid. Participants that leave the program to pursue private work or those that become ineligible due to income are eligible for negative amortization protection, though it must be requested.
Please note that participants who leave public interest employment after vesting and elect to request negative amortization protection will not be able to re-enter the LRAP program should they later reenter public interest employment. Details remain to be worked out on precisely how to handle participants who temporarily leave public interest employment but do not request payment from the account and then later re-enter public interest employment.
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Will LRAP pay my student loans directly?
No, after we receive your signed Promissory Note we will process a payment request and provide you with the funding of a LRAP loan for the repayment of your student loans for a 6-month period. You will receive the money either through the University's EFT system or as a paper check.
When can I expect my LRAP payment?
LRAP applications are processed in the order received. It can take between 4-6 weeks for your LRAP application to be processed and for you to receive funding. If your application is incomplete, it can take longer.
My application has been processed. When will I receive my payment?
If you have EFT set up, it can take a couple of days for the payment to be deposited into your account. If you don't, a paper check should arrive in 5-7 days.
Is there any way to ensure that my LRAP payment is done through EFT?
Follow the EFT instructions for UC Berkeley vendors and contact UC Berkeley's Disbursements Office to check your status or for any questions. Click here for more information regarding LRAP/Bridge Payments and EFT.
How do I change my EFT settings?
In order to change your EFT, you must complete a new EFT Authorization Form and follow the EFT authorization instructions for UC Berkeley vendors. You should also email firstname.lastname@example.org and advise them to cancel your current EFT.
I received a pay raise after I submitted my LRAP application and my new salary will push me over the $65,000 threshold, when and how much do I need to pay back?
Please send your updated salary information to email@example.com. When your cancellation application is being processed, the LRAP Coordinator will re-calculate your fund eligibility and notify you of the LRAP loan to be repaid. After all cancellations are processed, Billing and Payment Services will initiate the repayment process and make contact with you.
Does it matter when I make my monthly payments from the LRAP funding?
Yes, it does matter. In order to receive LRAP funds you must be enrolled in a repayment plan and make the regularly scheduled payments within that payment period. If you are enrolled in the IBR track for LRAP it is critical that you make your payments on time and for the scheduled amounts. Late payments do not count as qualifying payments for PSLF purposes.
My loans are currently in forbearance until I receive my LRAP loan, what repayment plan documentation do you need?
If your loans are in their grace period, deferment, or forbearance, you must provide us with documentation of your intended repayment plan. Once you start repayment, you must submit a loan term statement showing that your loans are in repayment and the repayment schedule.
I would prefer to pay off my private loans faster and use a portion of my federal loan LRAP funds towards my private loans. Is this acceptable?
No, LRAP guidelines mandate that you enroll in the repayment plan for which you receive funding and make regular payments accordingly. As of Spring 2010 we require the verification of your repayment plan.
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Should I report gross or net income on my application?
Please provide us with your gross income. For LRAP purposes, you must report your gross income. While you don't have to report the value of stocks, bonds or rental properties, you do have to report interest, dividends and rental income. For rental income, you can use the figure listed on your tax return unless you believe it will change going forward.
When do I have to report address or income changes?
Please notify us of changes immediately and include the pay increase and date with your cancellation application.
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How do I switch my repayment plan to Income Based Repayment?
Please contact your loan servicer for additional information on how to apply for IBR.
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What is the Low-Bono Program?
The Low-Bono Program is designed to provide LRAP support for graduates from the class of 2010 and beyond working for either a union or a small plaintiff-side firm that predominantly provides services to underrepresented members of society in the following practice areas:
- Civil and human rights law
- Criminal law
- Employment law
- Housing law
- Immigration law
In addition, LRAP guidelines mandate that at least 50% of the work of the firm and the applicant involves providing legal services on a pro-bono, reduced-fee, or court-awarded fee basis to underrepresented persons or organizations.
How can I find out if I'm eligible for Low Bono and Union Coverage through LRAP?
We offer a preliminary eligibility review and request the following documentation:
- Offer letter
- Name and website of the firm
- The firm’s complete area of practice
- Fee structure (sliding scale / contingent fee) - Who is paying these fees?
- Who is being served? What is the approximate percentage of pro/low bono clients/services?
- What is your anticipated salary?
- A personal statement describing what brought you to public interest, your prior public service experience and what you see yourself doing over the next five years.
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