Law School Discussion

Harvard Announces New Public Interest Financial Aid Program

Re: Harvard Announces New Public Interest Financial Aid Program
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2008, 08:16:31 PM »

Hey, kids...uh, anyone know if this is only for Class of 2011 and beyond...or whatever? Um, super. Greatsuperthanksbye.

I was wondering about that, but in the brief time that it was discussed, nothing was mentioned specifically. They seemed to suggest a public announcement would be made this week, so I imagine you'll be hearing soon?

Re: Harvard Announces New Public Interest Financial Aid Program
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2008, 08:29:40 PM »
You have to complete some amount of PI coursework to qualify so I imagine the program is targeted to the Class of '11 and beyond.  Then again, you only have to declare if you want to be in the program right before 3L so maybe its open to '10 and '09s who already happened to do the coursework?

Miss P

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Re: Harvard Announces New Public Interest Financial Aid Program
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2008, 01:03:34 AM »
Here's the long-awaited NYT article:


March 18, 2008
Harvard Law, Hoping Students Will Consider Public Service, Offers Tuition Break
By JONATHAN D. GLATER

Concerned by the low numbers of law students choosing careers in public service, Harvard Law School plans to waive tuition for third-year students who pledge to spend five years working either for nonprofit organizations or the government.

The program, to be announced Tuesday, would save students more than $40,000 in tuition and follows by scant months the announcement of a sharp increase in financial aid to Harvard’s undergraduates. The law school, which already has a loan forgiveness program for students choosing public service, said it knew of no other law school offering such a tuition incentive.

“We know that debt is a big issue,” said Elena Kagan, dean of the law school. “We have tried to address that over the years with a very generous loan forgiveness program, but we started to think that we could do better.”

For years, prosecutors, public defenders and lawyers in traditionally low-paying areas of the law have argued that financial pressures were pushing graduates toward corporate law and away from the kind of careers that they would pursue in the absence of tens of thousands of dollars in student loans.

“The debt loads that people are coming out of law schools with are now in six figures,” said Joshua Marquis, the district attorney in Clatsop County, Ore., and vice president of the National District Attorneys Association. “When the debt load is that great, I have had a lot of applicants who’ve said, ‘I’d like to take the job, but I really can’t afford it.’ ”

Perhaps worse, Mr. Marquis said, some indebted young lawyers who choose to try to survive on a low salary as a junior prosecutor may decide to leave to earn more just as they gain enough experience to handle more important cases. For that reason, he added, Harvard’s program sounded like a “great idea.”

Harvard’s third-year-free program is expected to cost the law school an average of $3 million annually over the next five years, Ms. Kagan said, but that number is just an estimate because it is unclear how many students will take advantage of the offer. The law school’s share of the university’s endowment of $34.9 billion is more than $1.7 billion.

From 2003 to 2006, as many as 67 and as few as 54 of the 550 students graduating from Harvard Law went to work for a nonprofit organization or the government. That translates to 9.8 to 12.1 percent of the graduating class. A vast majority of students have chosen to join law firms, where they can earn well over $100,000 a year immediately after getting their degree.

“This is an interesting move,” Larry Kramer, dean of the law school at Stanford, said of the Harvard initiative. Compared with other loan repayment assistance programs, Mr. Kramer said, “It’s unclear whether it is more generous.”

It may be, he said, that loan forgiveness over a longer period of time may encourage more students to go into public service and stay there. He added that it would take time to see how students reacted to the program.

Brandon Weiss, 26, a third-year student at Harvard Law who plans to join a public-interest law firm after he graduates, said he thought the tuition waiver program might sway students concerned about their debt to consider more career possibilities.

“Some students come in and know that public interest is what they want to do,” said Mr. Weiss, who will not benefit from the program himself because it does not begin until next fall. “There are probably other students that know they want to go to a big law firm. This program will help those students who are in between.”

Michelle J. Anderson, dean of the law school of the City University of New York, said the waiver of tuition sounded like an ambitious experiment.

“Harvard Law School is an extremely expensive, elite law school,” Ms. Anderson said, adding that tuition at CUNY Law was less than $9,000 a year. For Harvard, she added, reducing the price “is a different way of trying to attract students” interested in public-interest jobs.

Harvard law students who want to participate in the program will have to demonstrate their commitment to public interest while in law school, through participation in clinical programs working with real clients or other activities and projects.

Students who are currently enrolled will get a partial benefit, with those who will be third-year students next year getting a $5,000 grant toward tuition if they commit to public interest, and second-year students, $10,000.

Students who clerk for a judge after they graduate will be able to count that year toward their five-year commitment. Graduates will still be able to take advantage of the existing loan-repayment assistance program.

Lawmakers have also begun paying more attention to the ways in which student debt deters graduates from going into public-interest careers. Legislation passed in the fall by Congress provides student loan forgiveness for public servants, like public defenders, librarians, teachers, firefighters and nurses, after 10 years of service.

A problem could arise for Harvard’s program if a student took the free year of tuition but then, at some point before the five years were up, decided to leave public-interest or government work to make more money. Ms. Kagan said the school would be ready for that because it already had to track graduates’ income under its existing loan forgiveness program, which provides assistance with loan payments to students in public-interest jobs.

If a student tried to switch to a high-paying job on the sly, Ms. Kagan said, “then we’re going to ask for the money back.”

Re: Harvard Announces New Public Interest Financial Aid Program
« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2008, 07:16:09 AM »
Here's the place to go on the SFS website for details:

http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/sfs/psi/

And to devilishlyblue, you need to read the details of Columbia's "new" LRAP more carefully.   They treat marriage just like Harvard does.  Quite frankly, when you marry someone who makes a ton of money, I'm just not sure you should get as much aid from your law school...  Though the new PSI at Harvard doesn't change even if you do marry a high earner.

Cabra

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Re: Harvard Announces New Public Interest Financial Aid Program
« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2008, 07:21:23 AM »
Students who clerk for a judge after they graduate will be able to count that year toward their five-year commitment. Graduates will still be able to take advantage of the existing loan-repayment assistance program.

Wow.

Definitely sounds better than anything that's come along so far.

Re: Harvard Announces New Public Interest Financial Aid Program
« Reply #15 on: March 18, 2008, 07:34:58 AM »
Columbia's new LRAP... treat(s) marriage just like Harvard does.

You're right; I'm wrong.  I was taking the word of a poster on another thread (here) and hadn't bothered to look up the details because they're moot in my case.  Well, at the very least, maybe we can hope Yale will match Harvard/Columbia's treatment.

Quote
when you marry someone who makes a ton of money, I'm just not sure you should get as much aid...

Basically, it means that any girl I marry -- say I meet her at HLS -- has to commit to unilaterally paying back my student loans, or to capping her income at about a quarter of what she'd make otherwise.  "Sweetie, I gotta warn you, this ring comes with a $200,000 anchor."  I'm not nearly charming enough to pull that off either way.

Re: Harvard Announces New Public Interest Financial Aid Program
« Reply #16 on: March 18, 2008, 10:27:04 AM »
I was already pretty set on going to HLS but this new program pretty much seals the deal.  I was talking with some other admitted students after the Dean made the announcement and it seemed like they were very excited as well.  Like Devilishlyblue said, it might not be ideal if you aren't sure you want to commit to public interest for five years, but I think it's a big step in the right direction for those of us who want careers in PI. 

Re: Harvard Announces New Public Interest Financial Aid Program
« Reply #17 on: March 18, 2008, 10:49:10 AM »
shitfuckerbastardasshole.

I mean, congrats, guys. It looks awesome.

ican'tbelievei'mout30grandbecauseididn'ttakeayearoffohmyfuckinggod.

Re: Harvard Announces New Public Interest Financial Aid Program
« Reply #18 on: March 18, 2008, 10:53:03 AM »
cough, shouldve come to CLS. 5 years to freedom, cough

Cough, low ceilings make me suicidal, cough. Plus, cough, they didn't have that in place when I was choosing, cough.

Re: Harvard Announces New Public Interest Financial Aid Program
« Reply #19 on: March 18, 2008, 12:11:21 PM »
cough, shouldve come to CLS. 5 years to freedom, cough.

Devilishly, the marriage rule is the same. But if I'm reading this correctly a) with LIPP, your yearly contribution is going to be $1,100 + 40% of income over 46k, whereas with CLS LRAP it's 34.5% of everything over 50K. Lower expected contribution, higher cap. b) After your 5th year in PI (including clerkships, so long as you follow the clerkship with a PI job), the debt is 100% forgiven. It looks like the LIPP clock runs 10 years. The only tradeoff is that LIPP forgiveness begins right away, but with CLS LRAP the forgiveness doesn't kick in until after you've completed your 3rd year.

I'm not sure about the $1,100, but otherwise that looks about right to me.  LRAP is also a little more restrictive than LIPP in terms of what kinds of jobs qualify.  The big difference for me is that the LRAP is moot while LIPP is not.