UNH Law established the Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) for JD graduates who take low-paying public interest law jobs. UNH Law recognizes the high debt loads that face many JD graduates and wanted to enable those graduates to still pursue their public interest law careers.
The Phinney Fund Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) Application
Award year 2013-2014 (deadline: June 14, 2013)
Applicants must submit the following:
- A completed Loan Repayment Assistance Application;
- Statement(s) from loan creditor(s) verifying all law school loans (copies of loan statements are sufficient); this includes: Federal Stafford, Graduate Plus, Perkins and Private Loans;
- A copy of your and/or your spouse/domestic partner's previous year's federal tax return;
- If you are in private practice, an essay not to exceed two typewritten double spaced pages explaining why you qualify for loan forgiveness
LRAP Application with supporting documents can be mailed to the Financial Aid Office, University of New Hampshire School of Law, 2 White Street, Concord, NH 03301 by deadline noted on application.
The Fund covers JD graduates who are practicing law full time in the public interest area. Public interest is defined as: Jobs with federal, state or local governments, qualified not–for–profits, including legal services programs, as well as legal aid, prosecutors and public defenders offices. Half–time or part–time employment may be covered on a pro–rata basis.
Jobs with private law firms generally do not qualify and, if found acceptable, recipients may be required to report loan forgiveness as taxable income. Work undertaken outside the United States may qualify as a public interest job under the terms of the Fund and will be considered on a case–by–case basis by the Fund Committee.
Currently, federal and state court judicial clerkships are not considered qualifying employment under the Fund. However, a graduate continues to qualify on a deferred basis if s/he engages in a state court judicial clerkship, and immediately subsequent to the clerkship engages in qualifying public interest employment.
To qualify for the second disbursement, participants will need to send in a completed Employer Certificate form, a completed Employer Certificate form for the participant's spouse (if applicable), and a completed promissory note later in the year (date TBA).
Length of Eligibility
Graduates are only covered under the plan for five years; deferred years are not included in this five year period.
Graduates with an annual income over $55,000 are not eligible. This amount may change by an amount determined by the Fund Committee in each year.
Income for married graduates will be the greater of the two incomes or one–half of the joint income. A $4,000 allowance for the first dependent child and a $2,500 allowance for each additional child will be made against gross income.
Default/Loan Forbearance or Deferral
For the purpose of receiving funds from this program, a graduate must be making law school educational loan payments. This includes Stafford, Graduate Plus and/or Private Loan payments. Graduates who are in default on educational loans are not eligible to receive funds. Graduates who had deferred or received a forbearance on their loans, must be in repayment status in order to receive loan repayment.
The plan covers all eligible law school loans. Eligible loans (which include Federal Stafford, Graduate Plus, Perkins and Private Law School Loans) are defined as all loans taken to cover the annual law school budget (cost of tuition, books, living expenses, etc.) as determined each year by the Financial Aid Office. Private Bar study loans are also considered eligible loans. The program does not cover private loans from friends and family.
Calculating Annual Awards
The Director of Financial Aid calculates the qualified graduate's debt to income ratio based on the reported debt and income of the graduate and the graduate's spouse (if applicable). The Director then calculates what the graduate's annual loan payment would be, using the rates for 10 year consolidated loans. Qualified graduates are then awarded up to 50% of their annual loan payments. Preference is given to graduates with the highest debt to income ratios and lowest salaries. The amount of the awards is also dependent on the total number of applicants and the funding available.
The LRAP Fund Committee
The Committee will be appointed by the Dean. It will be composed of faculty, staff, alumni and the Dean or his or her designee. The committee will annually review the program and suggest changes as appropriate. Certain features of the program may change over time to reflect the impact of the school and it's experience with the program.
Program qualification and fund distribution is coordinated by the Financial Aid Offices and applicants should contact Erin Corcoran, firstname.lastname@example.org, in Financial Aid for more information. Applications are available at the Financial Aid, Career Services and Rudman Center web pages.
Selection of Recipients
Loan repayment assistance is not guaranteed for any JD graduates. Selection of the recipient and the amount of award depend on the availability of program funds. The Fund Committee retains its discretion to adjust the awards based on the funds available.
Disbursements will be made in the form of a six month forgivable loan that is usually disbursed in January and July. If the participant has remained in qualifying employment, the award is granted 100% forgiveness upon the next disbursement. The loan will be forgiven pro rata if the participant works less than six months in a qualifying position. Upon leaving a qualifying position, any remaining balance due on the loan will be payable in full within six months.
The total amount of dollars committed to the Fund will be reviewed annually. The University of New Hampshire School of Law reserves the right to make any changes in the program provisions and funding in any given year.
Assistance under this plan may be non–taxable under 26 U.S.C. section 108(f) for participants who work for government entities or 501(c)(3) not–for–profit organizations. The University of New Hampshire School of Law is not in a position to give individual advice on these matters; participants should seek their own professional advice.