February 2012 - Posts

This is the time of the year when a variety of firms, companies, and clubs send the Financial Aid Office information about the scholarships they offer.  Some of the scholarships are awarded based on where you reside, the field you are interested in, and/or if you are in good standing or as simple as writing a paper.  These funds can help pay tuition for the fall semester or spring semester or both.

Why not take advantage of all that is available?  Who could pass up "free money", especially if this money can help pay for your law degree and lessen your student debt?  Apply for any of these scholarships now for 2012-2013 financial aid year!

Toward your benefit, at Yale Law, outside scholarships are applied first to reduce loans (up to 50% of your unit loan amount) and second to reduce any institutional funds that were awarded. If you are only borrowing loans to pay for tuition, then the entire amount of the outside scholarship would be applied toward reducing the loans.

Intrigued by a "free money" offer?  Then take a look at some of the recent scholarship opportunities that our office has been made aware of:

The Yale Club of New Haven - www.ycnh.org - the scholarships ($3,000 per year) are available through the generosity of the alumni of the Yale Club of New Haven.  Scholarships are awarded to full time graduate and professional school students in the spring of their first and/or subsequent years and awarded to residents of the greater New Haven county.

New England Employee Benefits Council (NEEBC) - www.neebc.org - is an organization whose primary function is to advance knowledge and education about issues in the employee benefits field.  The intent of this scholarship ($5,000) is to encourage students to consider the employee benefits field for career opportunities.

NPBA Foundation Fitzwater Memorial Scholarship for Second Year Law Students - www.norfolkandportsmouthbar.org - was established in honor of Elizabeth Fitzwater.  The Foundation's mission is to promote the administration to justice, to educate the public about the importance of law in their daily lives and to enhance the image of the legal profession in the community.  This scholarship ($1,000) has been set up for those students who intend to practice in the south Hampton Roads area of Virginia.

Information on these and many more outside scholarship opportunities is available directly from the Financial Aid Office - come by to learn more!

 On January 31, 2012, the Department of Education (DOE) made a long overdue announcement on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program which should significantly help borrowers qualify for this loan forgiveness option.

The PSLF Program was initially established by Congress with the passage of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 toward the goal of encouraging student loan borrowers to pursue vitally important public service sector positions.  It works this way.. IF the borrower makes 120 separate, one time monthly payments in certain loan repayment plans WHILE maintaining work  in a public service organization(s) during the 120 month period THEN the borrower may have the remaining balances of their Direct Loans forgiven.

Beyond the basic 120 payments while in the public service field, PSLF comes with a couple of other important eligibility criteria.  First, only borrowers with Direct Student Loans qualify.  However, if the borrower had the older Federal Family Education loans (i.e. federal loans issued by commericial lenders) or Perkins loans, the borrower could consolidate those into a Direct Consolidation Loan to take advantage of PSLF.  Second, the borrower must be using either the 10-year Standard Repayment Plan, Income Contingent Repayment (ICR) or Income Based Repayment (IBR) to pay back the loans. The reality is that only ICR or IBR works to the borrower's advantage for PSLF in that the lower monthly loan payments (calculated on the actual ability to pay) leaves the borrower with a significant enough balance at the end of the 10 years to make forgiveness a true benefit.

The big step forward is that 5 years since PSLF's inception, DOE has now developed a system for borrowers to track their public service employment for the required 10 years (120 months) of payments. Up until now, borrowers working toward PSLF completion were tasked with self-documenting their public service  and maintaining records of their employment on their own with a layer of uncertainty as to what DOE would ultimately require as proof at the end of the 10 year period.  All that changed in January, when DOE announced  the availabiltiy of the "Employment Certification For Public Service Loan Forgiveness Form".  This form makes life easier for the borrower in terms of capturing consistent data from each qualifying employer in a standard template. More importantly, borrowers can submit the forms to DOE on an ongoing basis throughout their 10 years of repayment either annually or even as they change employment positions. DOE, in turn, will track and even confirm employment eligibiilty for PSLF based on each form submission.  As such, borrowers will always be assured that they are making progress to have full loan forgiveness. 

The Employment Certification Form is available for download at the PSLF website which also includes information on what type of public service position (a wide range!) qualify as well as other resources on this program.

The big question mark for PSLF is what happens in 2017, the year when the first group of borrowers participating in the program finally qualify for the loan forgivenss? Hopefully the new certification process will prepare both the borrowers and DOE for that moment.