Loan Repayment Program Offers $4000 to Those Working in Public Service
The new Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) Pilot Program will provide $4,000 loans to qualified students who work in public interest law positions. It is designed to help reduce the financial barriers that sometimes prevent Moritz graduates from accepting positions with government or legal services employers - employers whose needs for quality legal professionals often go unmet.
"I am very excited about this new pilot program," says Professor Arthur Greenbaum, chair of the LRAP Council. "It will showcase the College's commitment to public service employment." Public interest work has always been important to the Moritz community. Art cites examples such as the continuing success of Public Interest Law Foundation fundraising events, and the number of students--49 in the class of 2005--who choose to earn the "Public Service Fellow" designation at graduation by giving 50 hours or more of volunteer service.
"I simply could not have afforded to take a position as a judicial clerk without the funds I received from LRAP supplementing my income. Because of my clerkship experience, I am a far better attorney and litigator than I otherwise would have been. I am most grateful for the LRAP program at Moritz--it provided me with a skill set that I use every day to serve the public in my position as a prosecutor."
- Denean Hill '02
Providing faculty leadership for LRAP initiatives is a natural fit for Art, who has always been interested in public service practice. After graduation from the University of Virginia School of Law, he joined the Washington , DC firm of Hogan and Hartson because of the strength of their pro bono commitment. When he left the firm, he had to choose between teaching and a public interest position. While happy to have chosen academia, he didn't want to leave public interest behind.
"Being the chair of the LRAP Council has been a privilege for me," he says. "In the past, I've been frustrated that we couldn't help more students through loan repayment. Now, I'm thrilled with the new loans we are offering."
Art leads a group whose primary job is to provide policy recommendations on the program to the dean. The Council is generally comprised of three staff members and two students – a representative from the Public Interest Law Foundation and one from the Student Bar Association.
Historically, the LRAP Council was responsible for determining who would receive funding. That job now falls to the new LRAP Coordinator, staff member Cybele Smith.
Cybele has recently been promoted to the position of Director of Public Service and Public Interest Programs. Serving as Assistant Director in the Career Services Office since 1998, she has completed nearly 14 years in public service at state agencies and the Columbus city attorney's office. In addition to providing career counseling to students seeking government and public interest positions and coordinating the LRAP program, Cybele will also serve as the staff liaison to the Street Law Program, VITA, the Pro Bono Research Group, and the Public Interest Law Foundation. [links to all] She will represent Moritz Law at national conferences aimed at promoting public service and public interest initiatives.
Cybele is looking forward to focusing on students working toward the Public Service Fellow designation and those who wish to have a career in government service or public interest. She says, "I am very excited that the new LRAP pilot program will allow even more Moritz graduates to pursue public service career paths."
Students and 2005 graduates accepting law-related positions with local, state or federal government agencies or public service organizations are eligible for consideration. For LRAP purposes, a public service organization is one that qualifies for tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Eligible students or 2005 graduates must accept full-time employment that pays $38,000 or less annually, excluding benefits. In addition, individuals must provide proof of outstanding law school loan debt of at least $4000 procured from commercial or governmental sources. Only loans used to finance law school will be considered.
As students and 2005 graduates become eligible for LRAP loans, they should bring the completed application and verification of employment offer form to Cybele Smith, LRAP Coordinator, in Room 104. Individuals may apply as soon as an employment offer has been extended to "lock in" the LRAP loan. The $4,000 will be distributed as a loan by the College which will be forgiven after completion of one year of qualifying employment. The forgiven loan may qualify as tax exempt under the Internal Revenue Code. All applicants are encouraged to research possible tax ramifications of accepting LRAP funds prior to accepting them. Funds will not be disbursed until the individual begins work which must be within nine months of graduation. Because this is a pilot year, meeting the eligibility requirements does not guarantee that graduates will receive the loan.
Students are encouraged to investigate alternative sources of loan repayment and to work with the Office of Financial Aid to minimize law school loan debt.
Students and recent graduates who have questions about the LRAP program should direct questions to Cybele Smith, Director of Public Service and Public Interest Programs, LRAP Coordinator.