PUBLISHED:April 27, 2010

Duke Law to expand loan repayment assistance

Duke Law School has approved changes to its Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) that will increase aid to graduates working in public interest positions.

Key changes include an increase of the salary cap for eligible graduates, which will increase from the current cap of $60,000 to $75,000, and the elimination of the lifetime loan forgiveness cap of $80,000.

The new program will take effect in the 2010-11 academic year, but current LRAP participants and all graduates of the Class of 2012 and earlier will have the option to choose between the new plan and the current plan.

“Duke Law has a long-standing tradition of supporting our students and graduates who commit to public service careers,” said William J. Hoye, associate dean for admissions and student affairs. “This enhanced LRAP will greatly reduce the degree to which financing the cost of a legal education limits career options. During a time of increased interest in public service, it is especially important that we support our graduates in every way possible.”

The changes are tied to the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 (CCRAA) and aim to help graduates take greater advantage of federal government assistance for loan repayments. The new LRAP program will cover 100 percent of loan payments for graduates making $60,000 or less. Graduates making between $60,000 and $75,000 will receive assistance on a sliding scale. Only federal loans qualify for the program, and recipients must be making payments using federal income-based repayment (IBR) guidelines.

Duke Law’s current LRAP plan provides 100 percent loan repayment coverage to graduates making $35,000 or less; assistance is provided on a sliding scale for graduates making up to $60,000.

“These changes will greatly benefit our graduates who are committed to public service careers,” said Kim Bart, assistant dean for public interest and pro bono. “The new program also opens the door to public service careers for more of our students by providing a path for total loan forgiveness.”

Under the new plan, graduates who earn $60,000 or less could have all loan payments covered by LRAP during the entire 10-year period necessary to qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) provision of CCRAA, which forgives remaining loan debt after 10 years in a qualifying public service position. This means that a participant whose salary remains under $60,000 for 10 years could achieve total loan forgiveness with zero out-of-pocket cost.

For more information on the LRAP revisions and the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, see Duke Law’s financial aid website.