Student Loan Forgiveness: One of the Potential Benefits of Being a Prosecutor
By Kelly Lloyd, Esq.
For recent law school graduates, the prospect of paying more than $100,000 in student loan debt can cause soul-crushing anxiety and dampen the excitement of starting a career in law.
I know. I graduated from law school with nearly $180,000 in outstanding federal student loans. After 10 years of faithfully paying the required payments, my student loan balance ballooned to $247,000. And I was not alone.
According to the American Bar Association (ABA), approximately 90% of early-career lawyers have student loans averaging $130,000 in debt. The ABA says nearly half of the lawyers surveyed reported feeling depressed or hopeless. They reported that they delayed starting a family, buying a home, and saving for retirement.
Do not give up hope!
There is a path for lawyers to become debt-free: Consider a public service career as a prosecutor. It’s the path I took, and today I am debt-free.
The Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program offers lawyers who work full-time for a government agency, such as a county district attorney’s office, a chance to have the full amount of their student loan debt forgiven after 10 years of service and 120 qualifying payments.
I was fortunate to have an advisor at law school who explained the program to me. I knew I wanted to become a prosecutor, so I made sure that I met the federal qualifications for debt forgiveness.
I cannot tell you how much this program has impacted our lives. My husband, who is also a public-service lawyer, and I have three beautiful children. Without debt forgiveness, we could not remain in the public-service careers that we love.
If you are a law student, I highly recommend that you consider a career as a prosecutor. If you know law students, I ask you to share this article with them. There is a path to becoming debt-free and it goes right through a district attorney’s office.
Let me be clear: loan forgiveness was not the primary reason I became a prosecutor. I became a prosecutor because I fell in love with the job after an internship in a district attorney’s office.
In my opinion, being a prosecutor is the most rewarding job you can have as a lawyer.
Every day, we get to do what we consider to be the right thing, the fair and just outcome. We don’t have to do what a client tells us to do, or what a client pays us to do. We evaluate every situation, consider all the circumstances, and do the right thing.
For those interested in becoming a prosecutor, I also recommend an online resource created by the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association. There you can hear from seasoned prosecutors, including me, about the role of prosecutors in the criminal justice system.
Kelly Lloyd is a Deputy District Attorney in the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office.