Public Interest Loan Repayment Assistance Program (PILRAP)
RWU Law’s Public Interest Loan Repayment Assistance Program (PILRAP) was created in 2008 and is designed to provide support for our graduates pursuing careers representing low-income clients in non-profit offices. This assistance comes in the form of a forgivable loan.
Roger Williams University School of Law (“RWU Law”) is committed to affording its graduates a wide range of career choices and making public interest law practice a more financially feasible choice. RWU Law, through the generosity of Roger Williams University and donors Jack and Sara McConnell, demonstrated that commitment, in 2008, by establishing this Public Interest Loan Repayment Assistance Program (“PILRAP”).
RWU Law’s PILRAP is designed to assist graduates who are providing direct legal services to indigent clients by providing financial assistance to assist in repaying loans incurred for legal education.
Graduates in public interest jobs who have educational debt will be eligible to receive funding in the form of forgivable loans to help meet their educational loan payments.
To be eligible to participate in PILRAP applicants must have received their JD degree from RWU Law, must apply to initially enter the PILRAP within the first 5 years following graduation and fulfill the qualifying employment test described below. A qualifying applicant must also agree to be continuously employed in the field of public interest law for the 12 months for which they are funded.
The applicant must be a member of a state bar or the District of Columbia bar, OR the applicant may have passed one of the above bars and be awaiting admission AND must be providing legal services on a full-time (at least 32 hours per week) or part-time (at least 20 hours per week) compensated basis in a public interest setting such as described below. Qualifying employment is limited to core public interest jobs which provide legal services for or under the direction of a governmental unit or an organization described in Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) to people who cannot afford to pay, such as: legal aid or legal services offices and certain other private nonprofit organizations that provide legal services for persons or organizations financially unable to obtain adequate legal services; and indigent or public defender offices. Some examples of qualifying positions include:
- Attorney at Legal Services
- Legal Aid offices Attorney at nonprofit organization qualifying for tax exemption under Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3)
- Indigent clients Attorney at Indigent Defender or Public Defender office
Loan Status Eligibility Requirement
Students may apply for the PILRAP loan if they are in repayment AND in a qualified Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plan or if they intend on starting their loan repayment within three months of the application date. A graduate must be in repayment before PILRAP loans may be distributed and must remain in repayment throughout the term of the graduate’s PILRAP loan. Graduates must be making educational loan payments to be eligible to receive benefits under the PILRAP Program. PILRAP assistance may be used only to repay qualified educational debt owed to an institutional or governmental lender.
Due Date- December 1st
Award Notification- Jan 15th
Promissory Notes- Feb 1st
A graduate must apply for PILRAP no later than December 1st within five years after the graduate’s date of graduation. The application will not be considered complete unless accompanied by all required documentation specified on the application form. Submit applications no later than December 1st using our secure portal.
The completed application: 1) an application, 2) an employment verification form signed by the supervisor, 3) a loan statement that includes the balance, interest rate, repayment plan, and monthly payment amount, and 4) proof of payment for the past six months (continuing applicants only) and 5) most recent year’s federal 1040 tax return.
Reapplication for subsequent loans is required each year on December 1st. Decisions to grant applications for PILRAP loan assistance will be announced by the PILRAP Committee on January 15th and will include notification of the amount of annual assistance for the eligible year of public interest employment.
All recipients of PILRAP funding must sign and return a master promissory note before funds can be released.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program is available through the federal government to those borrowers making qualifying payments in a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying public service employer. After 120 qualifying monthly payments, the remaining balance is forgiven with no taxable income implications. Only the loan servicer (FedLoan Servicing) can determine all of the above requirements. It is strongly recommended for borrowers to submit the Employment Certification form on an annual basis, as well as when there is a change in employer, to ensure that forgiveness is properly being tracked by the loan servicer. Failure to submit the form may result in qualifying payments not being counted toward forgiveness.
More information about PSLF, including eligible employment and the loan and repayment requirements.
What is the goal of the program?Click to Open
To make public interest law practice a financially feasible choice for our graduates.
Who is eligible for the program?Click to Open
RWU Law graduates who work in qualifying public interest employment may apply to first enter the program within the 5 years of graduating.
Do I have to work full time?Click to Open
You must work at least 20 hours/week.
What employment will qualify?Click to Open
Qualifying employment is limited to core public interest jobs which provide legal services for or under the direction of a governmental unit or an organization described in Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) to people who cannot afford to pay, such as: legal aid or legal services offices and certain other private nonprofit organizations that provide legal services for persons or organizations financially unable to obtain adequate legal services; and indigent or public defender offices.
Some examples of qualifying positions include:
Attorney at Legal Services or Legal Aid office
Attorney at nonprofit organization qualifying for tax exemption under Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) and serving indigent clients
Attorney at Indigent Defender or Public Defender office
Some examples of non-qualifying positions include:
- Judicial clerk
- Attorney at federal, state or municipal agency other than Public Defender offices
- Attorney working in a military Judge Advocate General’s office
- Attorney working in an educational position
- Attorney working at a “Think-tank” or policy-making organization
When can I apply?Click to Open
Applications are accepted beginning of November and are due by December 1st. Applicants must apply to initially enter the PILRAP within the first 5 years following graduation.
When will I know if I am getting funded?Click to Open
Applicants will be notified around January 15th if they have been awarded a PILRAP allocation for the one year period.
What factors will be considered?Click to Open
- Your income
- Your educational debt
- Your monthly educational loan payments
- Your employment
While it has yet to occur, if we are faced with funding constraints, we may look at your broader financial picture based on documentation submitted with your application to determine funding.
How much money will I get?Click to Open
Up to $4,000 annually. Annual funding will be based on your student loan payments due each year. Our goal is to fund 100% of your annual Income-Driven Repayment Plan (IDR) student loan payments (even if you are not in IDR), up to $4,000 annually.
Who will decide the amount of funding for each applicant?Click to Open
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.
Why do I have to sign a note?Click to Open
PILRAP is structured as a loan which will be forgiven at the end of the one-year term as long as the recipient remained in qualified public interest employment and made the required student loan payments for which the funding was granted. While individual recipients of these loans should check with their tax advisors, it is intended by the RWU Law that the forgiveness of these loans for those working in nonprofit public interest settings should be excluded from income taxation in accordance with § 108(f) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.