Kentucky’s public prosecutors and public defenders may get some help with their student loan debt under the John R. Justice Grant program, which provides relief to student loan debt holders that serve as public prosecutors and public defenders around the country.
According to The Lane Report, the state of Kentucky said it has funding to open the grant program to 48 attorneys for the 2017/2018 fiscal year. The estimated award is around $785 per year and will be given to three prosecutors and three public defenders in the seven state Supreme Court districts in Kentucky. The award recipients will be chosen based on debt they owe compared to the income they bring in. In order to be eligible, the public prosecutors and public defenders have to sign on to provide services for three years and make less than $55,000 a year.
While $785 a year may not seem like a lot of money, for struggling student loan borrowers any free money that can go towards reducing their debt load is helpful. For the state of Kentucky, offering the grant is also a way to keep qualified workers, in this case attorneys, in the state. Many states around the country are struggling with filling job vacancies for those jobs that help people but don’t often pay a lot.
According to the National Association for Law Placement (NALP), in 2010 the average pay for entry level public defenders was $47,500. That increased to about $76,000 for those who were working for 11 to 15 years. Public prosecutors did a little better, with the entry level salary coming in at $50,000, on average. That number jumped to $81,500 after 11 to 15 years of experience. How much a prosecutor or defender makes is going to vary from state to state, however.
There is a catch with this grant program. State public prosecutors and public defenders who are elected are not eligible to participate in the loan forgiveness program. The grant program determined that it would raise ethical issues if elected officials were able to access the benefit.
Author: Andrew Rombach
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