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Harvard Law Expands Its Low-Income Protection Plan

Harvard Law School is expanding its Low-Income Protection Plan (LIPP), a debt-assistance program for alumni pursuing public interest careers.

The law school announced that it will now provide complete relief from loan repayments for alumni earning less than $70,000 annually—an increase of $15,000. In addition to expanding LIPP, Harvard Law is also launching a new Public Service Loan Forgiveness program that allows grads who work in a qualifying public service role for at least 10 years to earn up to $110,000 per year before contributing towards their qualifying loans. The changes will officially take effect on July 1, The Harvard Crimson reports.

“In the context of our fully need-based financial aid program, Harvard Law School invests significant resources to make a legal education as accessible as possible and to enhance our graduates’ ability to pursue the path best for them, whether that’s in public service or the private sector,” Harvard Law School Dean John F. Manning says in a press release. “In recent years, we have worked both to make important structural improvements to our Low-Income Protection Plan and to substantially lower the interest paid on student loans through our Preferred Lender Program. Now, by again increasing support for our existing Low Income Protection Plan and by launching a new federal loan forgiveness option, we are further deepening our investment in our graduates as they pursue careers of impact, meaning, and fulfillment.”

The changes come after alumni and students criticized the program and demanded increases in transparency, the number of accepted participants, and the amount of support offered. Last month, more than 100 Harvard Law School affiliates signed an open letter criticizing the program for now offering enough support.

Brendan Schneiderman, a 2021 HLS graduate and advocate for changes to LIPP, says that while the changes will provide a “tremendous amount of relief,” there are still some issues that have not been addressed by the law school.

“There was no mention whatsoever of the burden that international students have who are not eligible for federal loans oftentimes,” he tells The Harvard Crimson. Additionally, Schneiderman says he’s concerned about how LIPP considers spousal income and assets held by participants as part of aid calculations.

Despite those concerns, Schneiderman says he expects the current updates to LIPP to motivate students and alumni to advocate for more change in the future.

“Even people who were skeptical have now seen firsthand what the power of organizing really is,” he says. “And so I think as we continue to push for some of these other changes, the effort is only going to grow.”

Sources: The Harvard Crimson, Harvard Law School, The Harvard Crimson

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