Two years after reaching a campaign goal to raise more than $820,000, the first applications for the UW School of Law loan repayment assistance program (LRAP) are now being accepted through June 28, 2010.
"After years of hard work and generous donations by UW law students, and the support of the Washington legislature, it's exciting to be at the point to award the first LRAP funds," said Sonja Jacobsen, a graduate of the law school and the administrator of the UW's LRAP.
With more than 75% of all graduating law students owing over $40,000 is educational debt, new lawyers interested in a career in public service are faced with meeting their monthly loan obligations while earning traditionally lower salaries. The median starting public interest salaries under $40,000 compared to $90,000 at a private firm, meaning that student loan debt can prevent graduates from pursuing a career in public service. These public service jobs are often in the field of civil legal aid, and the result is there are not enough attorneys to provide aid to low-income and disadvantaged populations in Washington state because of educational debt accrued during law school.
Early and important political backing of the LRAP endowment came from Rep. Darneille, Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna, the late King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng, UW President Mark Emmert, Puget Sound legal aid organizations, and the UW Graduate Student Senate.
The goal of LRAP created at UW is to aid graduates who want to work in the public interest sector, government, or other lower-paying legal fields in the form of a forgivable loan. Upon completion of the required service obligation, the LRAP administrator will forgive or cancel these loans to program participants.