Federal Loan Forgiveness Bill

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Great news for current or aspiring public interest lawyers. A federal loan forgiveness bill has been approved by veto-proof majorities in both houses of Congress. Here’s the notice from the ABA:

The unattractive-sounding “income-contingent repayment option” is to be amended under HR2669 to allow students with most federal and federally-backed loans to access loan forgiveness under the William Ford Direct Lending Program. We know this forgiveness opportunity will be available to prosecutors, public defenders and those who provide “legal advocacy in low income communities at nonprofit organizations,” and quite possibly lawyers who work with those with disabilities. We will know in the days ahead what boundaries the Education Secretary will place on “public interest law services.” In addition to these lawyers, the program includes as separate job categories “government,” “military,” and those who work at 501c3s. So the program *might* apply to lawyers in these sectors, too.

The final language was approved Friday 79-12 in the Senate and 292-97 in the House, which is notable as both votes were in excess of the 2/3’s margin considered necessary to ward off a Presidential veto threat (which he had originally issued). In light of some concessions in other areas, The President said he would sign the bill when presented to him. Many of the provisions in the bill become effective October 1, so we anticipate it will be law by then. Because of the mechanism by which this loan forgiveness is achieved, it is not subject to an appropriation.

You will hear more from the ABA and likely other avenues on the operation of the program, as well as some ins and outs about it. A law review article should appear in Hoftra Law Review from one of our members who has worked on this closely for the past several years. The article should help explain even the technical provisions.

The one downside – Any doubt that those who work on reproductive rights will not be included in the definition of “public interest law services”?

– David S. Cohen

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