Law Students and Harvard Alumni Call for Ongoing Support to Pay Off Their Loan Amid Coronavirus | News


Harvard Law School students and alumni wrote a letter on Saturday asking the law school’s Low Income Protection Plan to maintain current levels of financial aid if the federal government approves debt relief of students amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Low Income Protection Plan covers a portion of loan repayments for law school alumni with low income after graduation. It aims to give graduates the freedom to pursue employment in the public sector or other relatively low-paying jobs despite the high levels of debt accumulated by many law school students.

The Trump administration’s March 20 decision to suspend payments on federal student loans and waive interest on those loans during the ongoing national emergency – along with potential relief plans being debated by Congress – would reduce the amount that graduates have to pay for their loans every month.

The letter – signed by about 50 current and future participants in the protection plan – says the law school should refrain from recalculating financial aid to reflect graduates’ lower loan payments.

“Basically, we don’t want the intention of federal aid to be offset by a corresponding and equal reduction in Harvard aid, because then it’s not aid at all, is isn’t it? Said Alexandra M. Jordan, a law school graduate, who signed the letter.

The letter noted that law school graduates anticipated that financial challenges could arise during the pandemic and further called on Harvard to change LIPP policies to give participants affected by an economic crisis increased flexibility.

The suggestions included waiving interest on loans held by the University, relaxing the requirements for submitting tax returns to the school, and providing assistance to those in non-legal jobs.

“Public advocates around the world will need all the amazing help they can get with what’s to come – medical bills, child care expenses, travel restrictions, job loss and political instability, among other challenges, ”the letter reads. “We hope Harvard takes advantage of this global crisis to show leadership in its commitment to public service work.”

LIPP Associate Director Natasha D. Onken responded to the letter’s authors in an email, writing that the program would change its paperwork requirements for the May application period in light of the extension of the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s income tax filing deadline of July 15.

She also wrote that law school would advise graduates to continue with their regular loan payments and only opt for federal aid opportunities when needed. The email indicated, however, that the suspension of payments could impact future eligibility for LIPP.

“For participants who are in LIPP, we recommend that they continue to make the loan repayments they have received assistance for if they are able to,” Onken wrote. “However, if their financial situation has changed and they are experiencing financial hardship related to COVID-19, we would recommend using the federal government’s options.”

According to Onken’s email, the program will consider additional changes to the LIPP policy as the coronavirus situation continues to evolve.

Responding to a request for further comment, Onken wrote in an email that LIPP has provided comprehensive assistance to thousands of graduates and aims to continue this mission despite the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

“As they were during the 2008 financial crisis, need-based financial aid programs, including the Low Income Protection Plan, will remain a top priority for Harvard Law School,” wrote Onken.

Nonetheless, Jordan said she hoped the letter would highlight the issues some graduates face in making ends meet, even with LIPP support.

“This means that the people who work on the front lines – like trying to get people out of immigration detention centers, working as public defenders, people doing public legal work – really have a hard time paying their taxes. invoices even with this help. “Jordan said.

– Editor Kelsey J. Griffin can be contacted at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @kelseyjgriffin.

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