Loan Forgiveness for Public Interest Law

Loan forgiveness and loan repayment assistance programs for law school graduates are generally limited to lawyers and attorneys who practice public interest law.

The Federal Perkins Loan provides loan forgiveness for public defenders. The amount of the loan forgiveness includes the interest that has accrued during the year and is set at 15 percent during each of the first two years of service, 20 percent per year during the third and fourth years and 30 percent during the fifth year.

The U.S. Department of Justice offers the John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program (JRJ) to provide loan repayment assistance to federal and state public defenders and prosecutors. Participants may receive up to $60,000 in federal student loan repayment assistance ($10,000 per year) in exchange for a 3-year commitment. Elected officials are not eligible. Applications should be submitted through the state agency that administers the JRJ loan repayment program in the applicant’s state. The loan repayment assistance is tax-free. Additional information about the JRJ program is available from Equal Justice Works.

Equal Justice Works (formerly the National Association for Public Interest Law) publishes a directory of federal, state, school and employer loan repayment assistance programs for law school graduates who want to pursue careers in public interest law.

The American Bar Association (ABA) also publishes a guide to loan repayment assistance programs (LRAPs), including a directory of state LRAPs and law school LRAPs.

The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) offers an LRAP for law school graduates who are employed by LSC grantee programs, the Herbert S. Garten Loan Repayment Assistance Program.

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In order to qualify for private student loan refinancing, lenders require a strong credit score with proof of income and employment history. In some cases a cosigner may be required. Also, if you have adverse credit history, including a prior student loan default*, you may not be eligible. * Default = 270 days late/missed payment on a federal loan and typically 90 days late/missed payment on a private loan(contact your lender for exact definition of default).