From Clinicians with Not Enough to Do, this post discusses a new program at Harvard Law School, reported in the Harvard Crimson. The graduating class of 2011 will be eligible for the program, and over 100 students expressed initial interest. Students who commit to working for five years in the public interest would be eligible for tuition waivers for the last year of law school. In addition, forty-eight third-year students signed commitments to five-year public interest careers, and they will receive in exchange $5,000 towards their current tuition.
The average student graduating from Harvard leaves with $109,000 of educational debt, the Crimson article reports, so the waiver seems like a real help for students who want to take a lower-paying public interest job but otherwise could not afford to do so because of their debt burdens.
The idea is interesting, reducing the debt load at the outset for those committed to public interest work, rather than providing assistance with loan repayments to those students after graduation. Loan Repayment Assistance Programs are in place at many law schools; Marquette, for instance, has had one for several years. I have never heard of a program like the Harvard tuition waiver, though, and I would be interested to hear what students think about the idea.