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.
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)
- Government (federal, state, or local)
- Foreign government with prior approval from committee
- Private public interest employment with prior approval from committee
- Private employers (including self employment) if at least fifty percent involves providing legal services on a pro bono, reduced, or court-awarded fee basis
Examples of qualifying employment include Senior Associate at the Consensus Building Institute; Staff Attorney at Sierra Club; Compliance Coordinator at St. Mary’s Hospital for Children; General Counsel for New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs; Executive Director of Centro Legal de la Raza; Trial Attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice; and a self-employed attorney with a family law practice who spends more than 50% of his/her time providing free legal services. You may read more about qualified employment in the LRAP Program Terms.
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. In practice, this means that those earning over six figures will receive far less assistance than those earning under $80,000. For example, based on the 2018 LRAP Program terms, graduates who earn over $120,000 are unlikely to receive any LRAP benefits unless they have significant educational debt (e.g., exceeding $250,000).
|Adjusted Income||Participant Contribution|
|$50,000 or less||$0|
|$50,000 - $65,000||15% of the income over $50,000|
|$65,000 - $80,000||$2,250 + 50% of the income over $65,000|
|$80,000 and above||$9,750 + 60% of the income over $80,000|
As an example, here are some figures for participants who have about $150,000 in outstanding debt on a 10 year payment plan. At this level of debt and a presumed 6.8% interest rate, graduates would owe the lender about $20,712 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 $130,000 will be included as income. See page 5 of 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 $35,000. Her "adjusted salary" is $70,000. Her contribution towards her need-based loans for the year would be 50% of $5,000 (the amount over $65,000) plus a base contribution of $2,250, or $4,750.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
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
I knew going into law school that I wanted to do public interest work, so LRAP was the deciding factor for me when considering where to attend law school. Although I am only entering my third year as a lawyer, LRAP has already had a tremendous influence on my career choices. My current work as a public defender in New Orleans is wonderful and fulfilling but it is also stressful, and it pays very little. Knowing that I never have to worry about paying my loans lifts a huge weight off my shoulders. I sometimes even forget that I have student loans, because of how little impact they have on my life thanks to LRAP. And that is true even though I graduated with about $170,000 in debt — a number several times larger than my annual salary.My chosen career has a high burnout rate. The work is difficult and the hours are long, and we lose more often than we win. Despite all that, it’s the best job I can ever imagine having. A colleague who recently left our office said that this job is as hard to leave as it is to stay at. And as I see some colleagues struggle with whether to stay or go, I am grateful that the burden of my student debt will never have to be a factor in that decision.
I cannot say thank you to LRAP enough for enabling me to do a job that I love, and which allows me to fight for justice for everyone in our society, regardless of what they are accused of having done or their ability to pay for a lawyer.
Laura Bixby, JD ’14
Orleans Public Defenders
As I reach the end of my time on LRAP, 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 has meant over nine years in child rights law. In addition to helping me to achieve my professional goals, LRAP has been flexible around my personal life – it has just supported me through my second set of maternity leave and I know many of my friends from ’07 who have also enjoyed building their families and households while on LRAP. Thank you!
Ruth Barnes, JD ’07
International Research and Projects Manager
Coram Children’s Legal Centre
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
I came to Stanford to work on climate change. Ten years later, after a stint helping to design and defend President Obama’s air pollution rules as a Sierra Club staff attorney, I am the Assistant Chief Counsel of the California Air Resources Board. We are charged with reducing California’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 and are international leaders in climate law. I owe this opportunity to a great deal of luck, my Stanford training, and to the LRAP program. Law school expenses can be crushing; programs like LRAP made it possible for me to pursue less lucrative, but far more meaningful, work for non-profits and government to address the critical climate challenge. LRAP paid off my loans when I couldn’t. Without it, I doubt I would even have gone to law school. I am so grateful to be able to go to work every day to serve the public.
Craig Segall, JD ’07
Assistant Chief Counsel
California Air Resources Board
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 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 Shelton, JD ’96
Dear LRAP Founders: This letter of gratitude is long overdue. I cannot tell you how many times over the last 20 years I have wondered how my life would be different if it had not been for you.
Your establishing the LRAP program enabled both my husband and me to pursue a career in public service notwithstanding our graduating at the top of our class in student loan debt. I still remember the day that we learned about LRAP. I kept reading over the description of the program in disbelief. I wondered who these wonderful and generous people were who had provided a financial way for us to pursue the careers we wanted. To me, you were both angels. After law school, my husband and I moved to Philadelphia where we both enjoyed the luxury of a public service career thanks to you. Each month as the bills were due and finances were tight, we would often remark that we absolutely could not possibly have managed without LRAP.
Now, long after my law school loans have been paid off and I am still doing public service but with a much more comfortable income, I still feel tremendous gratitude to both of you for helping us get the fantastic Stanford Law School education but enabling us to contribute those skills to those less fortunate. I am quite certain that every LRAP recipient has had similar thoughts about the generous strangers who created the LRAP program. Just think of the ripple effect that your establishment of the LRAP has provided. Not only did you transform each of our lives but your impact has passed on to every family that LRAP participants have sought to use their legal skills to help.
Thank you so much,
Lisa Rau, JD ’87 (Inaugural Class of LRAP Recipients)
Judge, Court of Common Pleas
First Judicial District of Pennsylvania
LRAP was crucial both to my decision to attend Stanford and my ability to pursue my ongoing career in public service. I had worked as a project director, grassroots organizer, and lobbyist for Friends of the Earth (FOE) in Seattle for four years prior to law school. My motivation for attending law school was to become a more effective advocate for the environment and other causes I cared about, and there was no question that I would return to public service after graduation. However, having lived paycheck-to-paycheck for those four years working for FOE, I would be entering law school with zero assets and no financial assistance from my parents beyond their willingness to co-sign my loans. While several attorneys I had interacted with in my years at FOE encouraged me to apply to Stanford, it would have been pointless to do so but for LRAP.While at SLS, I continued to work on environmental issues in the Pacific Northwest, served as President of the Environmental Law Society, and Student Public Interest Coordinator in the Office of Career Services, and was one of the inaugural winners of the Law School’s Public Service Fellowship, which was created during my first year at SLS. At the time, the Public Service Fellowship provided a tuition waiver for the second and third years of school. Nonetheless, between first year tuition, three years of living expenses, and a bar study loan, I still ended up graduating with $45,000 in loans in 1992. Following graduation, I accepted an offer to be a staff attorney representing government employee whistleblowers in the newly opened Seattle office of the Government Accountability Project (GAP). GAP didn’t have a budget for a second attorney (my position) in the office, but the managing attorney convinced the Executive Director to let him use the funds budgeted for a secretary to hire me instead. Thus, I started my post FOE and SLS public interest law career in August 1992 on an annual salary of $23,000, still no assets, a child to provide for, and $45,000 in law school debt. This simply would not have been possible without LRAP (not to mention shared housing, used cars, sack lunches, and all the other things many of us do to be able to pursue our public interest/public service careers).
During my ten years of LRAP eligibility, I moved on from GAP to working as the legal director for a statewide environmental organization and executive director of a major regional conservation organization, with a couple of years mixed in doing community relations work for a transit agency and consulting and contract work for non-profits and local government entities. None of these positions paid more than $45,000/year (mostly quite a bit less), and none of this would have been possible without LRAP. Since “graduating” from LRAP, I have continued my public interest/public service career, working primarily with environmental organizations until 2004, when I became the Appellate Department Director for the Northwest Intertribal Court System, a non-profit corporation formed by several Indian tribes in the Pacific Northwest to administer their tribal courts and courts of appeal
It’s important to recognize the benefits LRAP provides to society as well as the LRAP participants. No doubt, the organizations I’ve worked for since graduating from SLS would have accomplished great things regardless of whether they had hired me. However, without boasting details or uploading my resume, I can also say with great confidence that I brought to those organizations a mix of skills, training and experience beyond what they might have been able to access had it not been for LRAP, and as a result, the accomplishments of those organizations were more numerous and more significant than they likely would have been had it not been for LRAP. I can’t imagine a more satisfying and rewarding career path for me than the one I took, thanks to LRAP. But the real benefit of LRAP isn’t simply what it did for me – or for any of us participants – the real benefit is the immense talent and commitment of passion and resources that LRAP enables Stanford Law graduates to dedicate to the greatest needs of society and the planet.
Michael Rossotto, JD ’92