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‘Bridge that Gap’: Berkeley Law improves loan assistance repayment program

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AARTHI MUTHUKUMAR | SENIOR STAFF

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NOVEMBER 17, 2022

Berkeley Law updated its loan assistance repayment program, or LRAP, Oct. 1 to provide more student loan support to law school graduates.

LRAP, which provides funding for up to 10 years to graduates in typically lower-paying public interest jobs, has raised its income cap from $100,000 to $120,000, according to Amanda Prasuhn, director of public interest financial support at Berkeley Law. The update also lowered the percentage of out-of-pocket payments for those making between $80,000 to $100,000.

“Most people who are students at law school are borrowing student loans to fund their legal education,” Prasuhn said. “This program is to help reduce their out-of-pocket expenses and make it more feasible and more accessible to go into these lower-paying public interest programs.”

Prior to this change, those making $80,000 or less received full LRAP support, while those making between $80,000 to $100,000 paid 35% of their income over $80,000 to their student loans, out of pocket, Prasuhn said. Now, those making over $80,000 pay 25% of their income over $80,000 out of pocket.

After looking at data and surveying graduates who had been involved in LRAP, Prasuhn said she discovered that too many people were suffering after being kicked out of the program as their salaries increased. Additionally, many people were leaving LRAP before their 10 years of support were up, she said.

“That data from the survey … showed how necessary and important LRAP is … to allow people career flexibility and career choice and the option to go into these really meaningful and really impactful lower-paying public interest careers,” Prasuhn said.

Dan Hilborn, a third-year Berkeley Law student, said LRAP is part of the reason they feel secure going into a public interest legal career.

Law school often results in a lot of debt, and the smaller the financial hit, the more opportunities there are to pursue careers without the threat of debt, Hilborn said. LRAP helps “bridge that gap,” according to Hilborn, and allows students to choose careers with more freedom.

“Given the cost of living in California, at many public defender offices … you would make more than $100,000, and in the previous version of LRAP, you no longer qualified,” Hilborn said. “So that will definitely help in terms of just extending the amount of time I think I expect to be eligible for our LRAP.”

In a Berkeley Law press release, class of 2010 graduate Atteeyah Hollie said LRAP made her career possible. Now deputy director of the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, Hollie enthusiastically approves of the changes to the program, the press release added.

“I definitely take comfort in being able to take advantage of LRAP,” Hilborn said. “I’m really glad that they (updated) it.”

Contact Eleanor Jonas at 

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NOVEMBER 17, 2022