Funding Your Public Interest Career: Post-Graduate Fellowships and Other Funding Sources

Funding Your Public Interest Career: Fellowships and Other Funding Sources for Post-Graduation

We understand that public interest work often presents financial challenges to students and graduates with significant educational debt burden. Below are resources to designed to help make post-graduation public interest careers financially feasible.

If you are looking for information on funding your summer position, please visit our Scholarships and Funding page.

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 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 $15,000 in tuition remission through the Field Placement Program. 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.

LRAP Overview

The GW Law Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) helps J.D. graduates in 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.

Federal Loan Repayment Assistance

J.D. 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. Learn more with the resources listed below.