Funding for Post-Graduate Public Interest Positions
Most individuals are aware of the larger and more well-known funders such as Equal Justice Works and the Skadden Foundation. But, there are many other funders depending on the project or type of organization you seek. The Office of Career and Professional Development has a Fellowship Page on its website that provides a wealth of information about the types of fellowships available and approaching the fellowship application process. PSJD is a great resource to locate potential fellowship sponsors and learn about a variety of funding options. Additionally, WCL awards the JD Distinguished Fellowship to a select group of students who have secured placements where they will benefit from adequate supervision and will be doing substantive legal work. If you’ve missed those deadlines or otherwise are looking for other funders, there are additional resources. First, if you’ve identified an organization you’d like to work with, speak to them about where they seek funding.
Besides working with the grant seekers and development staff at your organization, there are some additional paths that you may explore. Start with legal funders and go outwards. For example, the DC Bar Foundation has a grant program which may be helpful. You may also want to search through some of the online resources that are available through the Office of Sponsored Programs on main campus. Comprehensive guides and information about how to use these tools (such as Grant Forward) can be found on the Office of Sponsored Programs' webpage. You may also want to contact the WCL Office of Grants and Programs to see whether they are able to assist you in any way. These two offices often hold trainings on how to use grantseeking tools.
To stay up-to-date and receive any new information about postgraduate fellowship opportunities, please consider joining the OPI Informer (formerly PIE). Each week, OPI sends out a digest / newsletter that contains information about public interest events, pro bono opportunities, student opportunities, postgraduate jobs and more. Only one email is sent over PIE each week, so don’t worry, OPI won’t clog your inbox.
Also, please review the comprehensive AUWCL Student Guide to Nonprofit and Public Interest Post-Graduate Legal Fellowship Programs (which contains detailed information about Types of Fellowship Opportunities, a Planning Timeline, Points of Contact at AUWCL, FAQs, and a List of AUWCL Alumni who have received fellowships in the past.) For a quick snapshot and overview of the public interest fellowship process, please see our one-pager, The Public Interest Fellowships Roadmap.
In your search for funding opportunities, you should also explore the following sites:
- WCL Grants Office website
- DOJ grant-seeking section of their website
Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAPs)
Loan repayment assistance programs (LRAPs) generally help defray the educational debt payments of graduates who go into qualifying public service. LRAPs can be offered by law schools, employers, states and at the federal level. To learn more about LRAPs, visit these resources:
- Public Interest Loan Repayment Assistance Program is WCL's LRAP and is known as PILRAP.
- DC Bar Foundation administers the DC Poverty Lawyer LRAP for direct services poverty lawyers in DC.
- Equal Justice Works is a national nonprofit that provides information about state and federal LRAP programs.
Federal Loan Repayment and Forgiveness Programs
Income-Based Repayment (IBR) and Pay As You Earn (PAYE) are available for all federal student loans (graduate and undergraduate). Under IBR or PAYE, monthly payments are capped at an amount intended to be affordable based on income and family size. The type of employment is not a factor in the calculation, only income and debt.
Public sector employees can combine participation in IBR or PAYE with participation in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program, but all federal loans must be in the federal direct loan program for PSLF. The benefit of PSLF is that the remaining balance on any federal loans will be forgiven after ten years in the program. For some graduates, their Grad PLUS loans are federally-guaranteed (FFEL) loans and must be consolidated into a Direct Consolidation loan for PSLF. IBR is not available for private loans. Information can be found at:
Additional information available at: WCL Financial Aid Office