Public Interest Loan Repayment Assistance Program (PILRAP)
Central to the educational mission of the American University Washington College of Law (WCL) is the belief that law is based on the inherent dignity of all individuals. WCL graduates have a proud history of building upon that core belief. Many of WCL's alumni enter into careers for the public interest, carrying forward the institution's long-standing commitment to use the law as a tool for positive change in our society. Given the cost of higher education and the resulting debt burden with which students graduate, a career in public interest is often not economically viable unless graduates invest time and energy in learning how to manage debt. It is important that public interest lawyers avail themselves of the repayment plans and assistance programs available to them. As a demonstration of its ongoing commitment to supporting graduates who apply the law to the greater good, WCL implemented an invaluable assistance program, the Public Interest Loan Repayment Assistance Program (PILRAP).
PILRAP helps relieve economic burden imposed by educational debt by providing loan repayment assistance for JD graduates who work full-time in certain non-profit or government employment.
New since 2010-11: An updated PILRAP Plan for Recent Graduates!
For graduates of the Class of 2008 and beyond, WCL created an updated loan repayment assistance plan, PILRAP-II, to increase the assistance available to graduates pursuing public interest and to bring the program in line with available federal loan repayment and loan forgiveness options. In 2007, the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) federal student loan repayment option was created under the College Cost Reduction and Access Act. IBR assists borrowers to keep federal loan payments (Stafford, Grad PLUS, and Federal Direct Consolidation loans) affordable with payment caps based on income and family size. For most eligible borrowers, IBR loan payments will be less than 10 percent of their income. In 2012, another similar federal program, Pay As You Earn (PAYE), was created. PAYE may be more advantageous to graduates than IBR, and each graduate should research his or her eligibility for the two plans. For graduates who pursue public service careers for at least 10 years, the new federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) will forgive any remaining federal debt after 10 years of qualifying payments if the graduates have taken the necessary steps to be eligible for the program.
Under the terms of PILRAP-II, qualifying applicants who earn less than $75,000 are eligible to receive financial assistance for repayment of law school loans. Although PILRAP participants are not required to enroll in any particular repayment plan with their lenders, PILRAP-II awards will be calculated based on an applicant's actual or estimated annual PAYE payment, or actual or estimated annual IBR payment if the applicant is ineligible for PAYE. Applicants earning less than $50,000 will be eligible for loan repayment assistance up to 100 percent of their annual PAYE/IBR loan payment obligation, while applicants earning between $50,001 and $75,000 are eligible for loan repayment assistance on a prorated basis. Once in the program, a graduate remains eligible to receive funding from PILRAP-II for up to ten years.
To learn more about PILRAP-II, visit http://www.wcl.american.edu/finaid/PILRAPII.cfm.
For graduates of the Class of 2007 or before, the original PILRAP plan (PILRAP-I) remains available. To learn more about PILRAP-I, visit http://www.wcl.american.edu/finaid/PILRAPI.cfm.
Access the application by following this link.
Other Loan Repayment Resources
Office of Public Interest Loan Repayment Information Session Handout.
Pay As You Earn
Find out if you are eligible for PAYE, by clicking here.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness
For more information about the Public Interest Loan Repayment Assistance Programs, please contact:
David Steib, Esq.
Assistant Director, Office of Public Interest