Also, the current provisions provide incentives for working in public interest jobs and income-based repayment terms.
But, as lawyer-journalist Joe Patrice reports in Abovethelaw, all that could change.
That would deter new JDs from working for the public interest, including government positions such as in the EEOC. Also, it could trigger the closing of many law schools.
What's going on is that, Patrice notes:
"Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives in December advanced out of the committee a Higher Education Act reauthorization bill that would make several major changes to graduate federal loans."
The hits would include:
- Public service loan forgiveness. Right now JDs working for the public interest have lower monthly payments. After 10 years their federal loans are forgiven.
- Income-based repayment. Repayment can be structured to 10% of income. In 20 or 25 years there could be forgiveness.
- Limits on federal loan amount to $28,000 a year. That, of course, does not cover the full amount of tuition, living expenses, books, and fees.
Should these changes become reality, JDs would have to taking stupid pills to opt to take a job with legal aid or an entry -level one with government.
Justice for those who can't afford a lawyer would be almost impossible. As it is now, legal aid is overwhelmed.
And, forget expect the government to protect and go to bat for us. Is I have an age bias complaint and can't find a private lawyer to pursue it, that's just too bad, isn't it. Yet, ageism is growing. AARP documents it can start around 35.
Also, many law schools could close. In some cases, that could save those who wouldn't be able to pass the bar from entering law school. In other cases, it would deny that option to those who recognize they can't take on the interest burden of private loans.
A change in the graduate federal loan program would, of course, present a bigger threat to the future of legal education than the downsizing of the legal sector.
Law professors who do not currently have multiple sources of income should be searching for ways to supplement what they earn teaching law.
Reflection: Both the public interest and the future of legal education are in play.
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