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Tax Code Factor in HLS Loan Program

With the announcement Friday that the Harvard Law School had extended its Low Income Protection Plan (LIPP) program, administrators hoped they would calm student concerns about the debt they'd face after graduation.

The program had been criticized in recent years by students and alumni who said it didn't cover enough graduates--and didn't relieve enough debt.

Responding at least in part to these anxieties, the Law School announced it will increase the number of graduates who will be eligible.

But some say the program should do even more--and while a press release trumpeted the LIPP changes as "an extensive expansion," the $1.5 million budget for the loan program hasn't much changed.

According to Lisa Dealy, who directs the LIPP program, Law School administrators decided, in response to recent changes in federal tax law, to give substitute a certain number of forgiveness grants that graduates had been receiving with loans. The result, she said, is that the LIPP has more money than it gives away. And so Friday's announcement that the program would expand doesn't necessarily mean the program will give more money to graduates.

A Different LIPP

The average Harvard Law School (HLS) student currently graduates with over $70,000 in debt to the University. College debt compounds the pressure to choose careers based on salary, rather than personal interest or public priorities, students say.

"Without LIPP it would be impossible for many students to do public interest jobs, unless they come from a silver-spoon family," said Joseph Scully, a member of HLS' class of 1999.

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