In 1985, Stanford Law School became one of the first law schools to offer a loan repayment assistance program for its graduates. Today, the Miles and Nancy Rubin Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) and the Anonymous Public Service Loan Repayment Assistance Program are widely regarded as the best of its kind, providing critical loan relief that enables bright, young lawyers to pursue careers in public service.
The success of LRAP demonstrates Stanford’s commitment to guaranteeing career choices for graduates and reflects one of the law school’s key values: that public service is a worthy pursuit, and that lawyers have a professional obligation to participate in public service throughout the course of their careers. Each LRAP participant’s story illustrates the important role that the program has played in their individual public service careers and the role that Stanford Law School continues to play in inculcating in our graduates the value of public service.
- Ensures that salary will not drive alumni career decisions
- Helps alumni with excellent skills, motivation and credentials find public interest jobs in the United States and abroad
- Lends funds to eligible applicants to help them meet their monthly educational loan payments
- Cancels annual educational debt if the graduate remains in qualifying public interest employment
Loan repayment assistance can be just the encouragement a graduate needs to pursue the public interest career he or she has dreamed of. Graduates can participate in LRAP for up to ten years after they receive their JD.
LRAP Alumni and their babies
Many Stanford Law School graduates who work in public service and rely on our Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) tell us that LRAP is what has enabled them to work in public service and start their families. This is particularly true when both parents are SLS graduates working in public service, such as some of the families pictured above. See the article about Two LRAP Parent families on pages 4-5 of our Fall 2016 Create Change e-newsletter.
Frequently Asked Questions
For JD graduates who accept public interest jobs and have educational debt, Stanford Law School will lend eligible applicants the funds to help meet their monthly educational loan payments. Loans are awarded on an annual basis. If the graduate remains in qualifying public interest employment for the full year, 100% of that loan is forgiven at the end of the calendar year.
Graduates must be employed in law-related positions in:
- Nonprofits (501(c)(3); 501(c)(4); 501(c)(5); or equivalent international entities);
- A government entity including federal, state, local, or multi-lateral (international), tribal nations and their subdivisions, and potentially a foreign government, upon review and approval by the LRAP Executive Committee;
- A campaign related to electing someone into a governmental office;
- Private employers (including self employment or term/contract employment), if at least fifty percent involves providing legal services on a pro bono, reduced, or court-awarded fee basis; or
- A public or private, nonprofit law school or university subdivision.
- Staff or managing attorney positions at Bay Area Legal Aid, the Sierra Club, Pacific Legal Foundation, or Consensus Building Institute; executive director of the Legal Aid Association of California; SLS Public Interest Fellow at Youth Law Center; policy analyst at ChangeLab Solutions;
- General Counsel for the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs; Legislative Staff to Judiciary Committee in the U.S. Congress; Honors Attorney at U.S. or California Department of Justice; Assistant County Counsel; District Attorney; Public Defender; Law Fellow at the International Court of Justice;
- Policy Director of reelection campaign for office of governor;
- Associate at union-side law firm; self-employed attorney spending at least 50% or more of their time in court-appointed criminal defense cases; or
- Assistant Professor of Law, clinical supervising attorney, or public interest advisor in a law school career services office at a public or private, nonprofit law school; policy research associate at a university-affiliated think tank.
LRAP does not cover judicial clerkships unless they are immediately before eligible public interest employment. Graduates can qualify for LRAP benefits during their clerkship year(s) if they start a public interest position within 90 days after the clerkship ends. Graduates should register for LRAP when the clerkship year starts, as LRAP benefits cannot be awarded retroactively after the clerkship ends. Thus, graduates who are uncertain whether they will start their careers in public service immediately after their clerkship(s) should consider still registering for LRAP. If the graduate subsequently enters ineligible employment (e.g., a job with a corporate law firm), then LRAP benefits must be repaid to SLS with interest.
LRAP allows for two years of clerkships before qualifying employment. Once the graduate completes a full year of eligible public interest employment after the clerkship(s), the LRAP benefits granted during the clerkship year(s) and the subsequent public interest employment are forgiven. Graduates who seek to clerk for more than two years can petition the LRAP committee for approval. See the LRAP Program Terms for more details.
There is no income cap, but LRAP calculates benefits on a sliding scale. Participants are expected to contribute a larger portion of their debt payments when they earn more.
|Adjusted Income||Participant Contribution|
|$75,000 or less||$0|
|$75,000 - $90,000||Participants will pay 25% of their salary over $75,000 and up to $90,000|
|$90,000 - $105,000||Graduates will pay $3,750 + 50% of their salary from $90,000 to $105,000.|
|$105,000 and above||Graduates will pay $11,250 plus 100% of their salary over $105,000.|
As an example, here are some figures for participants who have $150,000 in outstanding debt on a 10 year payment plan. At this level of debt and a presumed 6.5% interest rate, graduates would owe the lender $20,439 per year. Note that LRAP also covers educational debt from undergraduate institutions and graduate institutions for degrees earned before law school graduation. Thus, some graduates have more debt and receive more funding from LRAP.
|Adjusted Income||Annual Payment Due to Lender||Participant Contribution||Stanford's LRAP Contribution|
Please use the Online Calculator to calculate actual benefits with additional variables (e.g., higher student debt, spousal income, dependents, etc.). Additional details are in the LRAP Program Terms.
Yes, spousal income (as well as assets) may affect your LRAP benefits. The adjusted gross income used will either be a) the individual income or b) half the joint income, whichever of the two is higher. If the spouse has educational loan payments, those will be subtracted from the spouse's annual income. Moreover, any substantial physical and financial assets over $200,000 will be included as income. See the LRAP Program Terms for more information on spousal income, children, assets and other factors that can adjust a graduate's income for the purpose of LRAP benefits.
Note that we do not consider the income or assets of unmarried household members/domestic partners. We rely on graduates' tax returns to verify participants' income.
The formula is 40 hours/(hours worked) x Salary = Adjusted Salary. For example, imagine a participant employed in a qualifying position for 20 hours per week at an annual salary of $40,000. Her "adjusted salary" is $80,000. Her contribution towards her need-based loans for the year would be 25% of $5,000 (the amount over $75,000), or $1,250.
Need-based student loans are covered. This means loans taken to meet eligible in-school expenses. Sometimes students choose to borrow funds in lieu of their "student contribution." Such amounts are not considered need-based and are not covered by LRAP. LRAP will cover need-based loans used to meet undergraduate, law school, and other graduate school requirements. Bar examination and examination preparation expenses are also eligible but capped at $10,000 per participant. See the LRAP Program Terms.
Graduates must complete one full year of eligible public interest employment to receive cancellation of that year's LRAP benefit. Graduates who work in public service for the first ten years after graduation are eligible to have 100% of their educational debt covered by LRAP.
A participant must enter the program within the first 5 years the January after graduation. Thereafter, a graduate may exit and re-enter the Program any time within ten years of graduation. The ten-year rule is not extended if a graduate begins participation in LRAP several years after graduation, engages in academic studies following Law School, or defers payment on student loans.
Each Fall, the Office of Financial Aid will issue new LRAP program guidelines and a new registration form. The timeline is set so that the Financial Aid staff can process applications and issue checks before payments are due to lenders in January. New members of LRAP need to complete the registration form and list their anticipated income for the following calendar year. Alumni who are already LRAP participants need to complete the registration form to continue their participation and also need to submit documentation (e.g., a federal tax return) verifying income for past LRAP benefits. Alumni who have changed jobs and wish to join LRAP may do so at any time of the year.
The Office of Financial Aid administers LRAP, but you can address general questions to Anna Wang, Executive Director of the Levin Center for Public Service and Public Interest Law via email or phone at 650-723-2519. If you have a specific question related to your personal situation (e.g., I'm planning to take parental leave, what do I need to do?), please contact the Office of Financial Aid via email or phone at 650-723-9247.
The Stanford Law School LRAP Calculator demonstrates how the Miles and Nancy Rubin Loan Repayment Assistance Program and the Anonymous Public Service Loan Repayment Assistance Program can help you cover your educational debt.
Learn how LRAP can help cover your educational debt
The program’s built-in incentives encourage participants to remain working in the public sector, and these incentives are factored into resulting calculations. For example, the “seniority adjustment” that accommodates salary increases due to career advancement is already taken into account: Beginning the second year of public interest employment, $1,000 will be deducted from a participant’s “LRAP Adjusted Gross Income” for every year of qualifying public interest employment.
Alumni who participate in LRAP for ten years are eligible to receive full LRAP assistance for all educational debt. Alumni who exit earlier can receive forgiveness for each year’s benefit after a full year of service.
To use the calculator:
- Enter data only in the “Applicant’s Inputs at Graduation” and “Annual Inputs” sections. (Newer browsers display a dashed line around these fields.)
- Print the calculation in landscape mode, ideally using a browser that supports shrink-to-fit (or manual) page scaling.
- If you find errors in the calculator or if you have questions, please contact the Office of Financial Aid at email@example.com.
Privacy. None of your input or calculated data is transmitted over the network. All calculations are performed locally within your web browser.
Part-Time Employment. Individuals working in qualifying employment part-time may still be eligible to receive LRAP benefits. Please refer to the Program Terms for details.
Business Expenses. For self-employed participants, up to 25% of receipts are allowed as a business expense and may be deducted from a participant’s “LRAP Adjusted Gross Income.” This calculator does not take such a deduction into account.
Unique Circumstances. This calculator will provide most participants and prospective participants with an accurate estimate of personalized LRAP benefits. If you have unique financial or employment circumstances, this calculator may still be a valuable resource, but you should consult the Program Terms or contact a member of the LRAP Committee.
Disclaimer. This calculator is for informational purposes only and does not promise or guarantee any benefits. Please refer to the Program Terms.
Explanatory Notes (also available from the calculator application window)
- Not all financial aid is considered qualifying debt for purposes of loan repayment assistance. All federal and need-based loans, however, do qualify. Private loans taken out to cover amounts deemed “student contribution” or “family contribution” do not qualify. To determine your projected monthly payments for qualifying or non-qualifying debt, utilize any one of a number of loan repayment calculators. One such calculator is available online.
- To be deemed “qualifying employment,” the participant’s occupation must be (a) law-related and (b) public interest in spirit and content. “Law related” means that the position must substantially utilize legal training and skills. “Public interest” work is defined as: (1) work for an organization qualifying for tax exemption under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(5); or (2) work for a government unit, which includes federal, state, or local government (work performed for a foreign government may also qualify, but is subject to approval by the LRAP Committee); or (3) work for private employers (including self-employment or contract employment), at least fifty percent of which involves providing legal services on a pro bono, reduced, or court-awarded fee basis to persons or organizations who would otherwise not be able to obtain comparable services. In the case of private public interest employment, eligibility shall be determined by the LRAP Committee on a case-by-case basis dependent upon the participant’s ability to verify the nature of his or her work and the percentage performed on a pro bono, reduced, or court-awarded fee basis. Judicial clerkships of up to two years may be covered by LRAP, but are subject to additional restrictions. Please see the Program Terms publication for further details.
- Your federal Adjusted Gross Income can be found on your federal tax return on line 6, on form 1040. A participant’s “LRAP adjusted gross income” will likely be different from the participant’s federal Adjusted Gross Income. In addition, note that a taxpayer is now able to deduct from his or her federal Adjusted Gross Income interest paid on student loans. LRAP, however, does not consider this federal adjustment in determining award eligibility.
- Any substantial physical and financial assets over $130,000 will be included as income. Any unearned income received during program participation, including an inheritance or major gift, must be treated as income in the year of its receipt.
- LRAP allows the participant to deduct $8,000 from his or her income for each of the participant’s minor dependent children. In the case of two participants in LRAP with the same dependent children, the total number of children will be divided between the participants. For example, a married couple who participate in LRAP and have one child will each have $4,000 deducted from their income.
- In determining AGI for purposes of a graduate’s Program participation, the married graduate will be treated as having the higher of (a) his or her individual income; or (b) half the joint income. Any educational loan payment for the spouse will be subtracted from the spouse’s annual income. In the event both spouses are applicants under the Program and each spouse has a projected AGI under the LRAP income ceiling, each spouse will be treated as having half of the joint income.
LRAP participants work in federal and local government, private public interest law firms, nonprofits and advocacy groups, from Human Rights Watch to your nearest Public Defender’s Office. Career prospects include:
- Bay Area Legal Aid
- California Rural Legal Assistance
- Center for Constitutional Rights
- The Geanco Foundation
- International Criminal Court
- Loevy and Loevy
- Native American Rights Fund
- Natural Resources Defense Council
- New York County District Attorney
- Northwest Justice Project
- Oregon Department of Justice
- Public Defender Service for District of Columbia
- Shute, Mihaly, & Weinberger LLP
- Southern Center for Human Rights
- Texas RioGrande Legal Aid
- U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division
- U.S. Department of Labor
- U.S. Department of State, Office of the Legal Adviser
Living on LRAP
LRAP provides opportunity for service and fosters diversity in public interest law. As a woman of color and the first attorney in my family, LRAP gives me freedom to pursue a career in social justice unburdened by the weight of law school debt. It enables me to make choices that would have otherwise been impossible. I would not have left BigLaw without the security LRAP provides. I could not work with underserved populations while also battling my student loans. Today, I advocate for youth in my mother tongue, spend each day using my JD to better the lives of others, and live without my loans as a driving factor in my career. For that, I am grateful.
Ellie Dehghan, JD ’12
Youth Justice Attorney
Bay Area Legal Aid
When I started law school, a wise person told me to write myself a note as a reminder of what inspired me to attend, and what I hoped to do upon graduation in service of that inspiration. It was a lofty proposition; at the time, I had little understanding of the practical demands that would soon set in, creating pressure to alter or at least defer those early dreams. For me (and so many others), LRAP was the bridge between inspiration and reality. It provided me with the security to take risks I may not have otherwise taken, and reach for things that were otherwise (practically speaking) unobtainable.Today, I work my dream job as an Assistant United States Attorney in Chicago. I prosecute leaders of violent drug cartels, elected officials who abuse the public trust, and sex traffickers who exploit children and young adults, to name a few. At the same time, I grapple with difficult issues of how to treat people equally under the law in a city that is racked with socioeconomic inequality and a history of racial discrimination, and a justice system that relies too heavily on incarceration over prevention and rehabilitation.
I don’t have the answers to many of the difficult questions I face at my job. But everyday, I am immersed within the very same issues that inspired me to go to law school. I get to at least try, however imperfectly, to live out the words I wrote to myself back in August 2008, when I first arrived in Palo Alto: “Do Justice.”
That note now hangs on my office wall, right above the cabinet where I keep my past LRAP applications, which is fitting. LRAP helped me get to where I dreamt of going.
Sean Franzblau, JD ’11
Assistant U.S. Attorney
U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Illinois
LRAP enabled me to start off my legal career without factoring in the cost of my loans. For the first few years of my public interest career working as a public defender in New Orleans, I paid essentially nothing towards my loans, thanks to the LRAP program. I am grateful to LRAP for allowing me to choose a career based on work that I am passionate about rather than based on what will pay enough towards my student loans.
Laura Bixby, JD ’14
As an LRAP programme ‘graduate’, I want to express just how grateful I am for the programme. LRAP is simply amazing and the impact cannot be overstated. It allows graduates like me to choose a career based on our passion to help others, rather than any financial concerns. For me, this meant forging a career in child rights law. In addition to helping me to achieve my professional goals, LRAP was flexible around my personal life – including my move back home to the UK and two sets of maternity leave. I have many friends from ’07 who also enjoyed building their families and households while on LRAP.
Ruth Barnes, JD ’07
In an era when resistance is an omnipresent and extremely relevant buzzword, I can think of no organization I would rather work for than Earthjustice, our nation’s oldest and largest public interest environmental law firm. As an Associate Attorney in Earthjustice’s Denver office, I spend my days defending our public lands, climate, and health from unprecedented threats to our nation’s bedrock environmental laws. As a second year associate, I have been given opportunities I would have at few other law firms, like drafting portions of federal appellate briefs, taking a lead role on high-profile cases, and doing interviews with national press outlets.
I went to law school to become a public interest environmental lawyer, and the generosity of Stanford’s LRAP program was the deciding factor that drove me to choose to attend SLS. Thanks to the LRAP program I have been able to work at my dream job despite my student loans. I chose a career because it would make a difference, not because it would pay the bills. And, because I live in a relatively inexpensive area of the country, my partner and I have been able to buy a house.
Joel Minor, JD ’14
It sounds cliche, but LRAP is the reason I am able to fulfill my dream of being a public interest lawyer. I went to law school to become a public interest attorney and chose Stanford in part because of its LRAP program. It has fulfilled its promise. Because of LRAP, I am able to work as a staff attorney promoting and defending low-wage workers’ rights, live in the Bay Area, and grow my family. Without LRAP’s support, none of that would be possible. It is an invaluable program and I will forever be grateful for it. Thank you!
Marisa Diaz, JD ’13
Legal Aid At Work
Corporations don’t need more lawyers. LRAP is one important tool to help Stanford Law grads make better choices and allow them to work towards justice, instead. In my own career, I have been able to represent underserved communities against big coal and oil, craft major regulations phasing out fossil fuels in California, and channel billions in funds towards a just transition. I could not have afforded to do this work, and be a lawyer, without LRAP. It’s been life-changing for me, and I hope others will take advantage of it as they shape creative and useful careers.
Craig Segall, JD ’07
LRAP was the reason I went to Stanford – it’s as simple as that. Because of my background and upbringing, I knew that once I went to law school I would be obligated to do extensive work in public service, in very financially disadvantaged Native American communities. LRAP made it possible to do that after obtaining a first-rate law school experience. Stanford won out over all of its competitors when I made my decision about where to attend, because of LRAP. Now, I hope to contribute whatever I can back to Stanford, for making it possible for me to live the life for which I was called, and in partial repayment for the ability I was given to help others who would not otherwise have had access to assistance and awareness of their situations, but for my opportunity. LRAP made it possible for me to change my life, and in turn I take the obligation to try to help others change their lives very seriously. I also take very seriously my debt to LRAP and Stanford for giving me, and my home community and other similarly situated communities, such an opportunity—even still.
Brett Lee Shelton, JD ’96