Loan help for unemployed

November 11, 2009
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In a story in the Nov. 11 issue of Indiana Lawyer, recent law school graduate Amanda Whipple wished for assistance in repaying student loans for unemployed attorneys who volunteer at nonprofit or legal services organizations. Amanda may get her wish, if the American Bar Association has anything to say about it.

The ABA is lobbying the Obama administration and Congress to extend relief to recent law school grads who haven’t been able to find a job because of the recession. The ABA proposal doesn’t stipulate that unemployed attorneys have to volunteer their time at any legal services organizations or nonprofits.

The proposal would allow students to defer paying on their federal loans for as long as three years. But this isn’t a novel idea, since people with federal student loans are already able to defer payments under certain circumstances for up to three years. What is different about the ABA’s proposal is its suggestion that students be allowed to get federal loans to pay off their private loans. They’d then be able to defer those federal loans.

The ABA’s Commission on the Impact of the Economic Crisis on the Profession and Legal Needs, which made the proposal, is also seeing if the amount of money a law student can borrow from the federal government could be increased and make that retroactive.

Law school grads have some of the highest amounts of student loan debt, so it makes sense this is an issue the ABA would want to address. If this proposal catches on in Congress and the Obama administration, I expect other professional organizations representing doctors, teachers, and any other group of people with student loans to also lobby for federal help.
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