The average law school graduate carries student loan debt of up to $122,000. With education costs rising and employment opportunities dwindling, many law school grads wonder how they will handle repayment. Luckily, there are options.
There are many public service employment opportunities for lawyers. Those pursuing a career in the public sector may be eligible for loan forgiveness through programs offered both federally and through participating law schools.
The federal loan forgiveness programs forgives the remaining balance of your federal loans when you are a full time employee with a qualifying public service position and have made timely repayment for the preceding ten years. Qualifying positions may include work for the government or a non-profit. There are also a number of federal repayment assistance programs offered on a state level to help bring public service to underserved populations across the United States.
In addition to federal programs, many law schools offer loan repayment assistance programs, or LRAPs. LRAPs help graduates repay their loans when they take qualifying public interest or low paying service positions in the legal field. Each school has their own eligibility requirements and LRAP terms, but many legal public servants drastically reduce their debt obligation with the help of these programs.
The student loan refinancing market has exploded in recent years. Interest rates are at historic lows and qualifying borrowers can save thousands over the life of their loan by refinancing.
Most law school graduates finance their education, at least partially, with a federal PLUS loan. Unfortunately for graduate students, PLUS loans have a significantly higher interest rate as compared to federal student loans for undergraduates. PLUS loans for 2014-2015 carried an interest rate of 7.21% while subsidized undergraduate loans for the same period carried an interest rate of 4.66%.
If you're earning a steady income and have good credit, you can lose your high interest PLUS loan by refinancing and securing a lower interest rate. An interest rate just 1.5 percentage points lower will save you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan. Many refinancing lenders offer benefits that can help keep you on top of repayment and provide assistance if you experience financial hardship.
No matter what your career path after law school, try not to feel too discouraged by your student loans. You aren't alone, and between new federal loan forgiveness programs and an ever growing student loan refinancing industry, your current loan terms and interest rates are not a life sentence.
Be sure to check out Credible to compare multiple personalized offers from refinancing lenders by filling out just one simple form.