Public Interest Loan Repayment Assistance Program

Eligibility for PILRAP

To be eligible* to participate in PILRAP, JD graduates must:

  1. Apply within the eligible time frame;
  2. Work in qualifying employment; and
  3. Satisfy income requirements.
        1. Eligible Time Frame. Graduates are eligible for the program at any time within three years after the January following their graduation. Judicial clerkships are not qualifying employment for the purposes of PILRAP; however, the three year restriction on eligibility after graduation will be tolled for purposes of pursing clerkships. Once a graduate has entered the program, he or she must continue to reapply each year to receive benefits. Graduates who have applied for the program within 3 years of graduation may continue applying annually for PILRAP loan repayment assistance for up to ten years. Participants must be enrolled in the program, on a leave of absence, or in inactive status every year or they will exit the program and not be permitted to re-enter unless an exception is granted by the program administrator. Please read the Frequently Asked Questions to learn more about a leave of absence or inactive status.
        2. Qualifying Employment. The JD graduate's work must meet all of the following requirements to qualify for PILRAP loan repayment assistance:
          1. Full-time. In general, this means that the graduate must work an annual average of at least 30 hours per week. See the Frequently Asked Questions to learn more.
          2. Law-related. This requirement encompasses a wide variety of legal work and is not limited to the practice of law in its strictest sense. Nevertheless, the employment should substantially use the legal training and skills of the graduate.
          3. Public Interest. The work must satisfy one of the following criteria to be considered "public interest employment":
          4. Non-profit - work for an organization qualifying for tax exemption under IRS Code Sections 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4) or 501(c)(5); or
          5. Government - work for a local, state or federal government agency or office.
          6. Judicial - Court staff attorney positions and career law clerk positions qualify. Graduates in one- or two-year judicial clerkships are not eligible for funding during the clerkship.
          7. Non Discrimination Policy. Employer must comply with WCL's non discrimination policy.
        3. Income Eligibility. The maximum annual salary allowable to enter PILRAP is $75,000. For married applicants, the applicant's annual salary will be considered to be the greater of the following two values: the applicant's salary, or half of the total family salary. If a graduate's salary is greater than $75,000, the graduate may want to consider entering the PILRAP program on inactive status. Please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions to learn more.

        *Eligibility does not guarantee program participation

Qualifying Loans


  • Federal Direct Stafford Loans (subsidized & unsubsidized)
  • Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) Stafford Loans (subsidized and unsubsidized)
  • Federal Graduate PLUS Loans
  • Federal Perkins Loans
  • Other graduate or undergraduate Federal Direct Stafford Loans, Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) Stafford Loans, Federal Graduate PLUS Loans, and Federal Perkins Loans
  • All eligible loans must be in satisfactory repayment status (delinquent loans are not eligible for PILRAP)

Loan Forgiveness & Loan Repayment to WCL

Loan Forgiveness

The awards given by the PILRAP program are forgiveable loans. A PILRAP participant receives a loan from WCL which is forgiven at the end of the year, so long as the participant has maintained qualifying employment and has used the award to make loan payments.

Loan Repayment

If the recipient works for less than one year in qualifying employment, then he or she must inform the Financial Aid Office within thirty (30) days of the change in employment. The recipient may have to repay the portion of the award that corresponds to any period of time during the year in which the recipient did not maintain qualifying employment. The repayment must be made within that same year.

PILRAP Award Disbursement

PILRAP funds will be disbursed in January and June each year. The first half of the PILRAP loan will be disbursed upon the graduate's acceptance into the Program. To receive the second half of the annual disbursement, participants must file a mid-year employment verification form completed by their employer as well as proof of having made loan re-payments during the first half of the year. Second disbursement amounts are subject to change pending review of mid-year documentation. The employment verification form is due by May 15th.

Participation in Other LRAP Programs

Applicants are encouraged to take advantage of any other LRAP programs (such as state, federal, or employer LRAPs). Application and receipt of other LRAP awards must be disclosed on the PILRAP application and may be considered by the Financial Aid Office. See the Frequently Asked Questions to learn more.


Participants must apply each year for funds for the following year. Applications are typically made available in late August/early September and are due on October 1 by 5:00PM (EST). Award decisions are typically emailed in December and the first disbursement will be mailed in mid-January. To access the application, please click here.

Contact Information

For more information about PILRAP, please contact:

Financial Aid Office
American University Washington College of Law