Funding Your Public Interest Career
We understand that public interest work often presents financial challenges to students and graduates with significant educational debt burdens. The following resources are designed to help make public interest careers financially feasible.
All additional scholarship opportunities are posted in the Job Listings section of CORE. These include scholarships sponsored by law firms, bar associations, professional organizations, and more. To view current scholarship opportunities, go to the "Job Listings" section of CORE, and change the "Type of Job" filter to "Scholarship."
- Third-Year Fellowships
GW Law's J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Public Service Fellowship Program annually provides financial aid for third-year students (and evening students who have completed at least 56 credits) who agree to work 20 hours per week at public interest organizations in the Washington, DC area during the fall and spring semesters.
Awardees may receive as much as $7,500 in tuition remission. Preference is given to employers who represent, directly or indirectly, indigent individuals or populations, interests that would not otherwise be adequately represented, and environmental organizations. Awardees may not receive academic credit under this program.
Applications for the Spring 2024 semester are now open and due on January 5, 2024 at 5pm.
- Post-Graduate Fellowship Programs
Post-graduate fellowships represent one important way that students launch their public interest careers. For project-based fellowships, the applicant, often in conjunction with an organization, proposes a project to address an unmet legal need and applies for funding. Organizations may also advertise potential projects that they would like to sponsor and interview potential fellows to lead the project before applying for funding. Fellowships may also be recurring positions based at specific organizations, or they may be entrepreneurial, designed to fund a new public interest legal organization.
- GW Loan Repayment Assistance (LRAP)
The GW Law Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) helps JD graduates in a wide variety of public interest positions realize their career goals by providing financial assistance to meet their law school student loan obligations. LRAP provides assistance in the form of annual loans made to assist with loan payments, which are then forgiven completely at the end of the year, provided that the graduate remains in qualifying public interest employment. Awards are determined based on the graduate’s salary and the application of a formula designed to maximize the equity of the distribution of available program funds.
The George Washington University Law School Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) provides limited financial assistance to GW Law graduates who have taken out law school loans to help pay the costs of a JD degree and who are employed in qualifying law-related public interest or public service positions. For those who are eligible, LRAP will repay to the graduate an amount not to exceed the annual amount that the graduate pays on interest and principal for those loans.
The GW LRAP is funded and operated through the GW Law and should not be confused with the Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) or other Income-Based Repayment (IBR) plans coordinated through the US Department of Education.
Determination of individual GW LRAP award amounts depends on the availability of GW Law funding to the LRAP each year. Applicants must apply each year for a new LRAP award, and eligibility criteria and award amounts are subject to change. LRAP awards may only assist with law school debts associated with a GW Law degree; undergraduate debts or debts from other graduate programs are not eligible.
Details regarding the 2023-2024 LRAP Program and Application Process are described in the documents below. The 2023-2024 LRAP Application will be available on September 1, 2023 and will now be due on October 20, 2023.
For inquiries regarding LRAP funding, please email [email protected]. If you request a return phone call, please indicate the best time and best phone number for reaching you.
- Federal Loan Repayment Assistance
JD graduates, regardless of their type of employment, may be eligible for federal loan repayment assistance. The federal government currently offers several potential options, including (1) income-driven repayment plans, which cap loan payments based on the graduate’s income and debt level, but do not require the graduate to be working in a specific type of position; and (2) Public Service Loan Forgiveness, which results in the forgiveness of loan debt for graduates who have worked in qualifying public service positions for a specified period of time. The following resources, provided by Equal Justice Works, provide more information on these programs.
- Career Resources
The Career Center works closely with the Field Placement Office, Pro Bono Program, and the Jacob Burns Community Legal Clinics to support students pursuing public sector and public interest careers. The Career Center connects students with employers through the annual Public Sector Recruiting Program (PSRP), the Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair, information sessions with employers, and various networking events. GW Law is also a member of PSJD and Equal Justice Works, national organizations that provide resources and connect law students with public interest opportunities worldwide.
Please visit the summer funding page for information on the law school's Public Interest Summer Grant Program and various other internal and external summer funding opportunities.