Monday, March 17, 2014 3:12 PM jstone

Rumor Has It.. Debunking COAP Myths For New Admits

Yale  Law School’s COAP (Career Options Assistance Program) lends itself to a lot of questions at this time of the year when new admits are most likely comparing loan repayment assistance program (LRAPs) among schools.   And since these LRAPs really function as a significant post enrollment scholarship for you they should be factored into any financial aid evaluation.    But sometimes the complexities and details of these programs can lead to  misinformation or misconceptions, so we wanted  to "debunk” some of the common COAP myths:

Myth 1:  Below the $50,000 income threshold COAP pays for my loans but above that I do not receive COAP support …
FALSE… it’s true that at an income level of $50,000 or below (for anyone admitted post 9/1/11)  COAP will fully support your loan payments. But above $50,000 we use a tiered contribution schedule at which you are expected to put in a portion of your loan payment but where, depending on your debt, YLS is still providing significant support.   COAP is not an “all or nothing” support program.

Myth 2:  There is one income at which all COAP participants “income out” of the program...
FALSE … The income  where your assessed participant contribution (Myth 1)  is equal to or greater than the calculated annual payment  (or at which point you income out) is dependent on your own loan debt, as well as any income exclusions specific to your own circumstances.  There is no one income threshold that applies to all participants.

Myth 3:  The 15/5 amortization schedule in calculating payments  is not as generous as a straight 10 year repayment schedule
FALSE… The 15/5 works like this … for COAP years 1-5 your annual payment is calculated on a 15 year repayment schedule but then at COAP years 6-10 we recalculate your loan debt on a much more accelerated  (i.e. increased)  5 year repayment schedule .  The advantage of changing the amortization schedule in the middle of the program is that you can earn more income in the back five years of COAP and still have COAP eligibility.  If that annual payment never changes (i.e.  a straight  10 year repayment for all years of the program) but  your income increases and your contribution goes up eventually you in will reach  a point where you income out (see Myth 2).  But if that annual payment changes to a higher number (as it does when we switch to a 5 year repayment schedule in Year 6) you have a higher ceiling for income growth and your contribution  while still maintaining  eligibility for support from us. 

Myth 4 : if I leave COAP  or don’t begin COAP as soon as I graduate I can never be eligible again...
FALSE… You have 10 years of eligibility in COAP at any time (provided you still have loan debt).  So you can be in the program for a couple of years, leave  and return to it whenever there is a point in your life where you need COAP assistance to make the loan payments.  And you don’t need to start COAP immediately after graduation to start your eligibility. As long as you enter the program at some point within 10 years of graduating you will still have your flexible 10 years of program eligibility available to you.

Myth 5: COAP support is dependent on being in a public interest career….
FALSE…  what makes COAP truly unique is that the program does not dictate what type of employment you must have to stay eligible.  COAP is solely based on income no matter what career path you may choose. Granted many COAP participants are in public service or governmental work but we also have had participants ranging from concert pianists to record label producers to novelists.   Your loan repayment assistance program should never restrict you from pursuing  your dreams or taking  a new direction in life.

Myth 6: COAP is the most generous, flexible and supportive loan repayment assistance program available... 
    Okay... based on everything above this myth is actually the TRUTH.

Want more information on COAP?  Visit the COAP website  or attend the COAP Workshop at Admitted Student Weekend. Interesting in having the Financial Aid Office work up a projection of what COAP support may look like for you based on your anticipated loan debt and career path… reach out to us  at financialaid.law@yale.edu

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