Judge John W. Oliver public service program
The purpose of the Judge John W. Oliver Public Service Scholar Program is to encourage highly qualified graduates to enter public service employment despite the dual disincentives of low salaries and high student debt.
The Judge John W. Oliver Public Service Scholar Program will extend a loan of funds to assist with student loan repayment to a graduating student engaging in qualified public service employment each year for the three years following graduation and forgive that loan as long as the graduate remains in qualifying employment. Although the amount of the award may vary due to fluctuations in the endowment's value, it is anticipated the award will be $5,000 over the course of three years, with a loan of $2,000 in the first year and $1,500 in the two succeeding years.
The award year will typically begin on October 1 and end on September 30. The award year may be adjusted for students whose public service employment begins later than October 1. The program will treat each year independently and forgive the entire loan, each year, upon satisfactory completion of that loan period. To receive the full amount of the loan forgiveness available, the participant must be in good standing for the complete year with regard to all LRAP eligibility requirements. If the participant changes employment during the three year period, payment will continue as long as the new position qualifies for coverage.
If the participant leaves qualifying employment, or for any other reason becomes ineligible, before the end of a loan period, the program will forgive the portion of the indebtedness (total loan amount plus interest accrued to date) based on the percentage of the year satisfactorily completed. Any remaining amount not forgiven must be repaid.
The applicant selected to receive the award must demonstrate need by showing a high level of law school debt compared to anticipated earnings. In demonstrating the amount of debt, only educational loans are considered. These include subsidized and unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans, Federal Perkins Loans, McCreight loans and supplemental loans from recognized lenders such as Access Group. Loans from family and other private sources are not eligible.
While there is no set income maximum, consideration will be given to amount of loan indebtedness, salary of the applicant as well as family income and other required expenditures.
Qualifying employment includes Legal Services (including Legal Aid, Public Defender and similar entities representing indigent or low income individuals), government entities (including prosecuting attorneys) and non-profit organizations.
We believe the Program is structured to provide maximum tax benefits to participants while satisfying the requirements of the relevant federal tax law. The law defines as non-taxable the forgiveness of a loan that refinances pre-existing educational loan debt of recipients who perform public service work. Section 108 (f) of the Internal Revenue Code details the requirements for tax-free forgiveness. Participants are reminded that they are responsible for any information reported on their own federal income tax returns and are encouraged to consult a tax advisor regarding the taxability of the forgiveness of these loans in their particular situation.
If a participant leaves qualifying employment or no longer is eligible to receive the loan, it is that participant’s responsibility to notify Career Services immediately. Once it is determined that the participant is no longer eligible for the loan, a statement indicating the amount due for repayment as well as repayment instructions and a repayment schedule will be sent to the participant. The maximum repayment term is five years with an interest rate not to exceed the federal student loan rate at the time qualifying employment ends.
Applications are due no later than May 31 and should be submitted to the Director of Career Services. Applications will be reviewed by a selection committee and the awarded will be notified once a selection is made. Payments will be made to recipients on a yearly or twice yearly basis.
Graduates continuing their participation in the program must submit an employment verification form annually. All continuing participants must sign a new loan agreement and promissory note each year before new benefits can be disbursed.