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Friday, September 28, 2007

Debt relief for public-service workers

Kudos to President Bush and the U.S. Congress! That’s a tough thing to say these days, but I really mean it.

Amidst all the contention and argument over things like the Iraq War and the U.S. Attorneys' firings, Congress and the president have done something good -- passed legislation that allows lawyers and other individuals who go into public service some help in paying back their school-related debt.

As we’ve mentioned on this blog before, law students today are graduating with mounds of debt, sometimes nearing or even topping the $100,000 mark. That makes it almost impossible for those who want to go into lower-laying public service jobs -- like Legal Aid, public defense and prosecution work -- to actually follow their dreams. Instead, many are forced to accept the generally higher-paying private sector jobs in order to pay back their loans.

The College Cost Reduction and Access Act, which President Bush signed yesterday, would retire most or all of one’s federal student loan debt after 10 years of qualifying public service and timely repayment on their loans. It also provides special relief to many categories of public service, like the military, public safety, public education and some forms of social work.

The law is not perfect (they never are), but it’s at least a positive step forward in addressing the crises facing public-service law offices.

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