Since its launch in 2010, the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation – PA IOLTA Loan Repayment Assistance program has awarded 333 loans valued at more than $1 million to 134 attorneys employed by the IOLTA-funded pro bono civil legal services organizations located across the state.
By all the measures, the program has been a success, helping participating lawyers better manage their educational debt so they can afford to accept and remain in public service careers and providing their public service employers with a recruitment and retention tool that makes public service employment a more attractive option.
Primary funding for the LRAP comes from an IOLTA Board grant to the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation. The grant is a three year commitment, and is contingent upon the continued collection of pro hac vice admission fees by the IOLTA Board in an amount sufficient to fund the grant. The IOLTA Board grant is renewable, and although continued funding is anticipated, it is not guaranteed. Additionally, the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation contributes annually to the funding stream, making modest contributions towards the success of the program.
The LRAP funding stream had been sufficiently robust to date to support three levels of loan repayment assistance that afforded those who remained in public service employment the longest a greater amount of loan repayment assistance.
Regretfully, that once vigorous pro hac vice fee funding stream has declined and Foundation fundraising efforts have not been able to close the gap. At the same time, the total number of LRAP participants has increased, and the majority of those participants receive the highest level of loan repayment assistance, having remained in public service careers the longest.
As a result, the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation – PA IOLTA LRAP is exceeding its present funding. Rather than impose an onerous first come-first served protocol or exhaust the funding completely and bring the program to a premature end, the Foundation Directors, with the concurrence of PA IOLTA, have opted to make significant changes to the LRAP to ensure its continued viability.
Consequently, for 2015 loan cycle, the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation – PA IOLTA LRAP will be modified as follows:
- There will be a single level of loan repayment assistance. The amount of loan repayment assistance will be determined by the number of eligible applicants and the amount of funding available. We anticipate that loan assistance awards will not exceed $3,500, assuming your annual net debt service is greater than or equal to $3,500. Those with annual net debt service less than $3,500 will receive the actual amount of the debt service.
- The annual gross salary cap will remain at $66,000. Those with annual net debt service greater than or equal to 10% or more of their annual gross salary will still be eligible to apply for assistance.
- Application to other LRAPs is still expected and more important than ever given the reduction of loan repayment assistance available through the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation – PA IOLTA LRAP. Applicants are expected to make appropriate application to all other loan repayment programs for which they might be eligible including those offered through the Federal government, their law schools, employers, local bar associations and others. The Foundation maintains discretion to adjust any assistance paid based on an applicant’s apparent eligibility for another loan repayment program.
These changes will go into effect for the 2015 loan cycle.
The application period for the 2015 loan cycle opens on September 2, 2014, and closes on October 15, 2014.
Continued operation of the LRAP depends on continued availability of funding in succeeding years. Assistance will be provided only to the extent that funds are available. We hope that by making these changes, the LRAP program will continue to be available in succeeding years.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Pennsylvania Bar Foundation Executive Director Marie Queen at firstname.lastname@example.org or direct dial, toll free at 888-238-3036.