The PA Bar Foundation – PA IOLTA Loan Repayment Assistance Program, the initiative launched in 2010 by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania IOLTA Board and Pennsylvania Bar Foundation to attract and retain talented attorneys in public service careers at IOLTA-funded civil legal services by making a career in public service more affordable, will provide another three year cycle of loan repayment assistance thanks to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania’s recent approval of a $1,715,170 IOLTA grant.
The loan repayment assistance program (LRAP) is a collaboration of the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation, the Pennsylvania Bar Association, the PA IOLTA Board and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The 2006 Report and Recommendation of the PBA Task Force on Student Loan Forgiveness and Repayment Assistance advocated for the establishment of a statewide LRAP. The IOLTA Board identified and recommended pro hac vice fees, the admission fee charged to out-of-state attorneys seeking to enter an appearance in a Pennsylvania case, to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court as the revenue source to support the program. In 2007, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ordered the establishment of the pro hac vice fee in Pennsylvania, dedicated the revenue to the support of the LRAP, and in 2010 doubled the support by increasing the pro hac vice fee from $100 to $200. In May of 2015 Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor and the court reaffirmed the commitment to increasing the pool of attorneys available to provide civil legal services to Pennsylvanians who cannot afford them by increasing Pennsylvania’s pro hac vice fee to $375, a move expected to generate an additional $260,000 annually for the program.
The LRAP provides one-year loans, payable to qualified attorneys quarterly, with a 12-month employment requirement at qualifying organizations. Providing a participating attorney continues to meet the eligibility requirements, the attorney can apply for and receive up to ten, one-year loans over his/her tenure in qualified employment. The loans must be used to repay loans incurred for undergraduate and law school education costs and bar exam study and will be forgiven at the end of each year if eligibility requirements have been met. The Foundation administers one loan assistance cycle each year beginning in September. The amount of loan assistance provided to each applicant depends on the available funding and the number of qualifying attorney applicants. The next application cycle will begin on September 1, 2016. Since inception, the LRAP has awarded more than $1.6 million in loan repayment assistance.