Colorado Law is dedicated to making public interest legal careers a real option for our graduates, despite the reality of educational debt. Such debt may prevent students from choosing work at low-paying public interest or non-profit organizations. Colorado Law's Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) provides partial loan repayment awards to select students who choose qualifying public interest work.
Awards may be as much as $6,500 per recipient per year, depending on the availability of funds, participation rates, and individual factors. The size and number of awards given annually may be adjusted as program resources, participation rates, and other factors change. Colorado Law was able to increase award amounts significantly due to a generous grant from the Cathlin Donnell Foundation, and hopes to expand the program to support alumni working to serve those in underserved geographic areas.
Awards are contingent upon the recipient's ongoing employment in a qualifying public interest job during the annual period for which the LRAP funds are awarded. Recipients may receive LRAP awards for up to three (3) years, provided that they continue to meet the eligibility requirements and subject to available funding. Participants must reapply each year.
Each LRAP award is structured as a forgivable loan to the recipient, with the specific terms set forth in a promissory note. Generally, the note provides for the loan to be forgiven after the recipient completes a year of work in qualifying employment. In other words, applicants must work continuously in qualifying employment throughout an award year in order to receive an LRAP award. On the application, applicants may elect an award year that begins either on January 1 or on July 1.
The next deadline to apply for an LRAP award or renewal will likely be in October of 2014. A complete current year application must be received by the deadline to ensure consideration. Colorado Law keeps all information, including tax returns, STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL and uses data only for determining income and financial eligibility.
Participants must notify Colorado Law in writing (c/o the LRAP Administrator) within 30 days of any eligibility changes, including changes in salary, marital status, employment, and loan repayment status. Failure to provide notification will result in the loss of benefits. Participants who receive overpayments as a result of changes are required to refund the overpayment amount to the program.
Applicants must be University of Colorado Law School graduates and are selected based on the following factors:
Applicants must be full-time (35 or more hours per week) lawyers* working in a "public interest capacity" in one of the following categories:
Judicial clerkships do not qualify as employment in a "public interest capacity." Graduates who enter LRAP-eligible employment following their clerkships may apply for LRAP awards at that time.
*Applicants are NOT required to be licensed attorneys to be eligible for LRAP.
LRAP recognizes annual debt service only on law school loans approved by the University of Colorado. While total debt burden is considered in applications, LRAP awards are intended to repay only law school loans. Participation in any federal or other payment reduction plan will not preclude an applicant from receiving an award. However, benefits received to help repay law school loans through another source are considered in the application and may affect the amount of LRAP awards.
An applicant's prospective and/or current income must not exceed $60,000. For renewal applications, an allowance for annual gross salary increases of $2,000 is allowed for each year of LRAP participation. In determining gross salary, additional sources of taxable income for that year are considered.
Qualifying recipients may reapply for the next two years and will receive assistance if funds are available. Applicants must meet all eligibility requirements each year. After the third year, applicants may reapply for additional years. However, applicants who have not yet received LRAP awards for three years are given priority over those who have already received such assistance.
Colorado Law strongly encourages participants to consult with their tax advisors regarding taxation of LRAP awards. Beginning in fiscal year 2012, awards were structured as loans forgivable after one year of service in the qualifying job. Based on guidance published by the Internal Revenue Service, this structure may eliminate tax consequences for certain recipients.
LRAP is administered by the University of Colorado Law School. For further information, please contact Whiting Leary, Senior Assistant Dean of Students and LRAP Administrator.