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Call it proper planning and preparedness, but law students can save themselves a lot of grief with regards to their student loans if they work hard and they begin looking in the right places. What we're talking about is student loan assistance from the law schools themselves.
And this next bit will no doubt come as a surprise: several law schools are even offering programs that give notable debt relief even for grads who don't go into public service. And that should give hope to even the most jaded attorney-to-be.
Public Service Loan Assistance
In America, about half of the law schools offer loan assistance programs to students and grads, but the usual requirement is that those graduates be in the public sector and be suffering an income gap.
Rather counterintuitively, some of the more branded names in the law schools offer some of the best programs to students. These names include Michigan, Yale, Cornell, Stanford and yes, even Harvard.
Introducing the LIPP and the LRAP
Loan assistance programs for students generally come in one of two major flavors: the Low Income Protection Program or the Loan Repayment Assistance Program-- LIPP and LAPP.
The Low Income Protection Program is usually open to those students on a sliding income scale that takes into account other factors such as the size of the debt load and cost of living. You'll be surprised and happy to know that Yale and Cornell offer such programs.
LRAPs, which are much more common, are linked to the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program which forgives debts to those students working in the public sector and after making 120 months of qualified payments. Keep in mind that's 120 months, though.
However, if you're lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, not all LRAPs require the public interest element. Michigan Ann-Arbor's LRAP only requires that the "graduates positions be law related," at least according to Assistant Dean Lindsey Stetson.
Go to It
The money is out there, but it won't simply jump into your lap. Contact the schools and start asking questions about either the LIPP or the LRAP. You may be relieved to find out that you may qualify for assistance you weren't even aware was there.