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Financing a Public Interest Career

Debt Free in 10 Years

Yes, law school is expensive. However, students who plan to pursue public service or government careers can do so with the knowledge that loan repayment options are available. It is possible to be free of all federal educational debt in 10 years.

Nationally, the median entry level salary for a civil legal services/public interest attorney is $43,000 to $45,000. The national median salary for district attorney and public defender salaries is approximately $50,000.

USC Law School's Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP), implemented in 1987 provides financial assistance to graduating students with educational debt who secure qualifying public service employment.

Additionally, the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) is intended to encourage individuals to enter and continue to work full-time in public service jobs. Under this program borrowers may qualify for forgiveness of the remaining balance of their federal Direct Loans after they have made 120 qualifying payments on those loans while employed full time by certain public service employers.

The information listed below, is a quick snap shot of the various loan repayment programs and resources available to students.

Ways to pay off your student loans

Program Who qualifies? What could you get?
Public Service Loan Forgiveness Public service workers (see below) with federal Stafford, Grad PLUS, or consolidation loans in the Direct Loan program. Full loan forgiveness after 10 years of on-time payments.
Income-based repayment (IBR) Federal student loan borrowers with either Direct or FFEL loans Payment based on your income and family size. IBR will also forgive remaining debt, if any, after 25 years of qualifying payments, even if not in public service career.
Pay As You Earn (PAYE) All federal student loan borrowers Caps your monthly payments on federal loans at 10% of your discretionary income. In addition, your outstanding debt is forgiven after 20 years of on-time payments, even if not in public service career.
Homesteading Those who move to live and work in rural Kansas, Niagara Falls, NY, and several other communities. It varies, but the forgiveness can be between $3,500 and $5,000 annually for up to 5 years.

Equal Justice Works (EJW) Educational Debt Relief Program

The EJW Educational Debt Relief program is devoted to advocating for student debt relief and spreading the word to make sure those who need relief are taking the right steps to qualify. EJW detailed and user-friendly resources are available to help prospective students, current students and graduates; school advisors and administrators; and employers.

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