What is the goal of the program?
To make public interest law practice a financially feasible choice for the first three years of practice; so students who may not intend to stay in the public sector for 10 years (entitling them to loan repayment from the new federal law) can work in the public sector without committing for 10 years.
Who is eligible for the program?
Students from the RWU School of Law graduating classes of 2008 and beyond who work in qualifying public interest employment may apply.
Which loans will be included?
The PILRAP will only apply to debt incurred for legal education owed to an institutional or governmental lender.
Do I have to be admitted to the Bar in order to qualify?
Do I have to work full time?
You must work at least 32 hours/week.
What employment will qualify?
Attorneys working in civil legal services or providing indigent criminal defense.
What employment will not qualify?
Lawyers working in the following fields: prosecution, government work, the military (i.e., JAG), think-tanks or policy-making organizations, or judicial clerkships.
Why are you covering such a narrow range of employment?
Due to a limited initial budget, we have chosen to cover alumni working directly with indigent clients only at this time.
When can I apply?
Students will apply no later than May 1st of the year following their graduation. Recipients are then eligible for a period of three consecutive years. So, for the graduating class of 2015, applications will be accepted anytime up until May 1, 2016. Applications will be available each January thereafter. August or December graduates will have until the second March after graduation to ensure that they have time to take the bar exam and secure a public interest job. In addition, students who did not apply with their class may, if there are unused grants, apply a year late for two years of funding if there are available resources. For instance, if a student from the Class of 2013 did not apply in the spring of 2014, he/she may apply on May 1, 2016, for two years of funding if there are still unused grants.
When will I know if I am getting funded?
Applicants will be notified around May 15 if he/she has been awarded a PILRAP allocation for the one year period.
How will I know if I should accept a job before you make your decision? Why can’t there be any certainty about who will be funded before graduation?
Unfortunately, we cannot let you know if you will receive money until we receive all eligible applications. We will have a pool of money for each year that will be divided by eligible applicants. The PILRAP Committee will need to have the discretion to determine the number and amount of awards after everyone has applied. Many students do not find public interest jobs until after graduation or after they have been admitted to the Bar, so we want to be sure that we make this program available to as many graduates as possible.
What if I have a judicial clerkship?
If you have already secured a public interest job for the year after your clerkship, you may apply the spring of your clerkship year. Otherwise, you may apply the spring of the year following your clerkship. You will be eligible for an additional two years of funding.
What factors will be considered?
- the amount of the applicant’s qualified educational debt;
- the amount of the applicant’s other debt;
- the amount of debt within the applicant’s household;
- the amount of the applicant’s income;
- the amount of income received in the applicant’s household;
- the applicant’s assets;
- the assets of other members of the applicant’s household;
- the applicant’s dependents;
- the nature of the applicant’s public interest employment;
- the applicant’s prior commitment to public interest law;
- the applicant’s potential for much higher future compensation; and
- the applicant’s other available sources of qualified debt repayment assistance.
How much money will I get?
We anticipate making about 8 awards each year in the amount of a maximum of $4000 each. Applicants are eligible to re-apply for 2 more years.
What happens if I don’t fulfill my obligations?
Applicants awarded loans will be obligated to sign a Roger Williams promissory note before any loans are disbursed, and thus will be required to pay the money back along with interest, pursuant to the terms and repayment schedule detailed in the Promissory Note.
Who will be in charge of this program?
The PILRAP Program will be administered by the PILRAP Committee. The Committee will be appointed by the Dean of the School of Law and will include a full-time member of the Law School Faculty, the Financial Aid Director, the Dean of Students, an alumnus of the law school, and a member of the bar of the State of Rhode Island.
What control will the PILRAP Committee have?
The PILRAP Committee shall have absolute discretion to determine the following:
- whether to award PILRAP assistance in a particular year
- how many PILRAP assistance awards to give in a particular year
- whether to award PILRAP assistance to an applicant,
- the amount of any PILRAP assistance, and other relevant decisions.