LRAP FAQ

last updated November 30, 2018

General Questions

Coverage

Payments

Reporting

“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, but do not typically qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). Non-tenure and tenure track academic positions at nonprofit educational institutions, including but not limited to clinical instructors and research fellows, can also qualify. However the incomes for these positions typically exceed the LRAP income threshold. The inclusion of tenure track academic positions begins with the Class of 2012 JSP graduates who earned their JD at Berkeley Law. 

How does LRAP work? Who makes the student loan payments? If you are eligible for LRAP support, you will receive funding directly from Berkeley Law in the form of a forgivable loan for a given period of time. During that period, you make the required student loan payments to your loan servicer on a monthly basis. At the end of your LRAP contract period, you will provide proof of those loan payments, income, and employment. If your income remained the same and you made your payments as expected, your LRAP loan will be forgiven. 

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 and must be at least an annual average of 30 hours per week. Please note that for LRAP you are required to report gross income for all sources of income.

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

When can I apply? You can initially apply for LRAP within 3.5 years after graduation.  Please visit “How to Apply for LRAP”.

 Do I need to reapply? How often? To renew LRAP support, you should submit an LRAP application 30 days before the end date of your current contract. For more information and instructions, visit “How to Apply for LRAP”.

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 if you graduate in May.

What steps should I take to have my LRAP loan forgiven? You should submit a forgiveness (i.e. cancellation) application within 30 days of your contract end date. For more information and instructions, visit  “How to Apply for LRAP”.

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, however the law school budget as a whole is not unlimited.

Can I schedule a one-on-one appointment? Absolutely. We offer in-person and phone appointments. To schedule an LRAP appointment, please go to our online appointment scheduler. Our office is located at 226 Boalt Hall, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720-7200. You’ll receive a confirmation email once your appointment is scheduled. An appointment to go over your loan repayment strategy is required before entering LRAP.

My gross income is over $65,000. How does that impact coverage of my payments? Once your gross annual income exceeds $65,000, you are expected to pay 35% of every dollar over $65,000 to your student loan payments. This is called your ‘imputed contribution’ and is the amount that you will need to pay out of pocket towards your loan payments, regardless of what your student loan payment is.

Examples:

LRAP Income Imputed Contribution %

Your Contribution 
Per Month

$65,000 0% $0
$75,000 35% ~ $292
$80,000 35% ~ $583
$100,000 ineligible N/A

The second example assumes you are single and your total gross annual income is $75,000. Therefore your monthly imputed contribution would be about $292 per month (($10,0000 x 35%)/12 months). This means that if you’re billed $500 a month from your loan servicer, you will pay $292 and LRAP will cover $208. If you’re on income driven repayment (IDR) and your loan payments increase to $600 per month, you will pay $292 and LRAP will cover $308. Your imputed contribution does not change so long as your income does not change.

Additionally, the imputed contribution is calculated per month based on your annualized income for that month. Example: Your gross annual salary is $65,000 as of March, but you receive a salary increase to $75,000 effective in April. In this case your imputed contribution is $0 in March and $292 in April.

Once your income exceeds $100,000 (minus any dependent deductions), you no longer qualify for LRAP support.

What if my income changes after I’ve already received an LRAP forgivable loan? If your income changes in a given month, we use the income that corresponds to the position you held for the majority of the month. 

How does my clerkship impact my participation in LRAP? The LRAP is designed to support graduates entering into public interest. Therefore while clerkships qualify for LRAP support, unless you obtain public interest employment immediately following your clerkship, you will be asked to repay the LRAP funds you received while in the clerkship. Completion of a two-year clerkship satisfies the employment requirement for LRAP. However 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.  

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. Example: Your and your spouse’s income is $50,000 and $80,000 respectively. Your income for LRAP purposes would be $65,000. If you also have a dependent, $6,000 would be subtracted from that figure for the first child, and $4,000 for every dependent thereafter.

How does having children factor into LRAP? Your income for LRAP purposes will be reduced by $6,000 for the first dependent and $4,000 for any thereafter. To be considered a dependent, the individual must be claimed on your most recent tax return. Please note child support is considered income for LRAP purposes.

Why is my contract length set for less than 12 months? There are multiple reasons why an LRAP contract length may be less than 12 months. For example, we occasionally need to reduce the length of LRAP contracts to ensure funding for all qualified participants. We also try to align LRAP contract periods with changes in family, job, or monthly payment amount (in the case of participants on income-driven repayment.) This is ensure that your LRAP forgivable loan is as accurate as possible from the onset.

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.ed.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, make payments, and download payment histories.

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.

What is the difference between IDR, IBR, PAYE, and ICR? IBR and PAYE  are examples of income-driven repayment plans (IDR). You apply for an income-driven repayment plan with your loan servicer, and they will calculate a payment that is 10-15% of your discretionary income from the prior year. This is the monthly payment that is used to calculate your LRAP forgivable loan amount. (Only the graduating classes of 2012 and prior are eligible for coverage under the standard 10-year track.) Please note that income contingent repayment (ICR) is NOT eligible for LRAP support.

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When can I expect to receive my LRAP forgivable loan? LRAP applications are processed in the order received. It can take between 3-6 weeks for your LRAP application to be processed and for you to receive funding. If your application is incomplete or you have an address change, this process may take longer.

My application has been processed. When will I receive my funds? If you have EFT set up, it can take a couple of days for the funds to be deposited into your account.  If you don’t, a paper check should arrive in two weeks.

Can I get my LRAP funds sent directly to my bank account? Yes! We strongly encourage you to set up EFT (electronic funds transfer) to receive your LRAP forgivable loan funds directly into a bank account of your choosing! This not only prevents checks from getting lost in the mail, but also means that you receive your funds faster.  Be sure to complete the form as a vendor, and include a voided check when mailing your authorization form. Follow the EFT authorization instructions for UC Berkeley vendorsThis is a separate EFT account/process than when you were a student.  

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.  

I received a pay raise 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 gross income information to lrap-law@berkeley.edu. When your cancellation (forgiveness) application is being processed, the LRAP team will re-calculate your eligibility and notify you of the portion of your LRAP loan that is ineligible to be forgiven.  If you are required to repay funds, you will be given several months advance notice and there is an interest-free period before payment is required.

Does it matter when I make my student loan payments from the LRAP funding? Yes, it does matter. In order to receive LRAP funds you must be enrolled in an eligible repayment plan and make monthly, regularly scheduled payments within that LRAP contract period. Payments made outside of the LRAP contract period will not be counted in the forgiveness review. Late payments do not count as qualifying payments for PSLF purposes. If you are enrolled in the IDR track and plan to pursue Public Service Loan Forgiveness, it’s critical that you make your payments on time, when a payment is due, and for the scheduled amounts. Late or lump sum payments do not count for PSLF. We encourage everyone pursuing PSLF to become familiar with the PSLF requirements.

Should I report gross or net income on my application? Please provide us with your gross income before any deductions etc. While you don’t have to report the value of stocks, bonds or rental properties, you do have to report income earned from any investments including interest, dividends and rental profit. Be sure to email lrap-law@berkeley.edu regarding any changes to income.

When do I have to report address, family, or income changes? Please notify us of changes immediately and include the effective dates.

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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 through 2021 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?
  • Resume
  • 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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