Many of our students will lead lifelong careers as advocates for social justice. The first steps on this career path are challenging, and Penn Carey Law is committed to helping our students succeed through funding postgraduate fellowships.
Penn Carey Law’s postgraduate fellowship program has been highly successful in launching the public interest careers of recent graduates. Since 2009, the Law School has supported over 90 fellows, all of whom either remained employed by their original host organization or secured public interest positions in the same field. Fellowships are awarded on a competitive basis. Learn more about the work of recent Penn Fellows below.
Penn Carey Law students and graduates may apply for Project-based Fellowships in their last year of law school or at the conclusion of judicial clerkships undertaken immediately after graduation. Law school students may apply for Catalyst Fellowships during their last year of law school.
Applications are due on Monday, April 8, 2024, by 5:00PM EST. All applicants will be interviewed April 24, 25, and 26, 2024 and interviews will be conducted through video-conference. Decisions will be communicated to all applicants no later than Wednesday, May 1, 2024.
Letters of recommendation may be submitted separately if that is the preference of the recommender.
Late applications will not be considered.
Catalyst Fellowships support students who obtain post-graduate volunteer positions in government, nonprofit, or international organizations in which full-time staff positions may ultimately be secured or which may lead to related employment in the public sector. Although traditional judicial clerkships at local, state, and federal courts are not eligible for this fellowship support, clerkship positions at courts or tribunals that as a matter of practice do not pay their clerks but provide a unique and career-enhancing experience may be eligible.
How to apply
Penn Carey Law’s Catalyst Fellowships fund students to work with local, state, federal and international government agencies, public defender offices, public interest organizations, and NGOs. Although traditional judicial clerkships at local, state, and federal courts are not eligible for this fellowship support, positions at courts or tribunals that as a matter of practice do not pay their clerks but provide a unique and career-enhancing experience may be eligible.
Fellowships will be awarded on a competitive basis for a one-year term beginning each Fall.
Eligibility: Only Penn Carey Law students in their last year of law school are eligible to apply for these fellowships. Alumni are ineligible.
Project-based Fellowships enable students and recent alumni to partner with a nonprofit organization and design a one-year project to address a particular client need. The following fellowships are currently funding alumni in a wide array of work:
- Toll Public Interest Fellowship
- University of Pennsylvania Law Review Public Interest Fellowship
- Langer, Grogan & Diver Fellowship in Social Justice (Supporting public interest work in the Delaware Valley)
How to apply
Penn Carey Law’s Project-Based Fellowships offer recent Law School graduates the opportunity to gain entry into a local, national, or international public interest organization, helping to launch the fellows’ public interest careers.
Fellowships will be awarded on a competitive basis for a one-year term beginning each Fall. Fellows will design their own projects, which must be law-related insofar as they substantially utilize legal training and skills. Fellows must partner with a public interest organization* . At the discretion of our funders, at least one fellowship may be specifically designated for the Greater Philadelphia Region.
Eligibility: Penn Carey Law students and graduates may apply for these fellowships in their last year of law school or at the conclusion of judicial clerkships undertaken immediately after graduation.
*A public interest organization is defined as: any nonprofit organization or institution whose primary purpose is to serve or advocate on behalf of individuals or organizations whose interests, for various economic, political or social reasons, are not adequately represented by the private sector or the government.
Cozen Family Voting Rights Fellowship
With the support of a multi-year gift from Stephen Cozen L’64 and Sandy Cozen, the Cozen Family Voting Rights Fellowship will provide two years of funding for a Penn Carey Law graduate to work on a project, at a non-profit organization, that advances and protects voting rights.
The next Cozen Voting Rights Fellowship application cycle will be for a Fall 2025 start date, with applications accepted in Fall 2024. Please stay tuned for more detail.
With the support of a multi-year gift from Steven Cozen L’64 and Sandy Cozen, the Cozen Family Voting Rights Fellowship will provide two years of funding for a Penn Carey Law graduate to work on a project, at a non-profit organization, that advances and protects voting rights.
The timing of this fellowship is important as there is a growing need for advocacy to increase voter participation, access, and protection at the federal and state legislative levels, particularly as some states attempt to subvert voter protection mechanisms and Congress attempts to pass new and expansive federal voting legislation.
Projects funded through the fellowship will include legislative or legal reform aimed at addressing crucial voting rights issues, such as voter and felon disenfranchisement, barriers to voter registration, and restrictions on absentee or mail-in voting. Projects will also include a direct service component where fellows will work directly with individuals or groups who are systematically disenfranchised to better understand the hidden barriers to voter participation and gather and analyze data to inform advocacy and drive real change.
Application Deadline: The next Cozen Voting Rights Fellowship application cycle will be for a Fall 2025 start date, with applications accepted in Fall 2024. Please stay tuned for more detail.
Completed applications must be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All completed applications will be reviewed following the deadline.
Eligibility: Recent Law School graduates and alumni who have graduated within the last seven years (2018-2025) will be eligible to apply in Fall 2024.
Required Application Materials:
Please submit your application, in one completed document, comprised of:
- Current resume.
- A project title and brief summary of no more than 75 words that describes your project and its overall objectives.
- A personal statement (no more than 3 double-spaced pages) that describes your relevant experience, interests, and future goals, with respect to voting rights work, and any other reasons that the committee should consider awarding you this fellowship.
Please answer the following questions about your proposed project:
- Describe the communities that your project will serve.
- Describe the components of your project (eg, legislative/legal reform, direct service) and how each component will advance and protect voting rights of the affected communities.
- What are the particular challenges that you expect to encounter and how will you overcome them?
- What are your goals for the two-year project?
- One letter of support from your host organization.
Completed Applications must be submitted in one pdf to email@example.com by the application deadline.
Questions about this process may be directed to Taylor Pacheco (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Job Search Funding
For car, bus, or train travel to call-back interviews, the school will reimburse up to $90 for each trip. For interviews that require air travel, the school will reimburse up to $300 for each trip. Reimbursement is only available if the employer does not pay for your travel expenses.
Modest travel reimbursement for other job search travel may be available upon request.
You must complete this survey within two weeks of your travel. You will be informed by the OCS office if your request is approved and you will be asked to submit a copy of your travel receipt. The Business Affairs Office will then process your payment.
**These reimbursement policies are subject to the availability of funds.**
Penn Carey Law is committed to promoting the pursuit of public interest and government careers. Many law students and graduates are committed to public service but find it difficult to accept public sector employment because of their high law school debt burden. Since 1989, the Law School has operated the Toll Loan Repayment Assistance Program (TolLRAP). Penn Law’s TolLRAP assists graduates in choosing public interest and government jobs and careers by providing loan assistance.
- Enables students to pursue public interest careers without regard to indebtedness by providing interest-free loans to help defray the costs of educational loans.
- Provides forgiveness of the loans after each year the graduate is in public interest employment.
- Bases the amount of assistance on a formula that considers the applicant’s income and annual law school debt.
Please contact the TolLRAP Counselor at TolLRAPCounselor@law.upenn.edu with any questions.
The TolLRAP II program was introduced in November 2012 and reflects the change in the treatment of loans by the federal government, including through IDR and Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and rewards sustained service through TolLRAP Plus. To learn more about TolLRAP II and your eligibility, please review the Guidelines and the FAQ.
TolLRAP Application for All Applicants
Please complete and submit your application by November 1, 2023.
**New applicants should apply as soon as they are eligible**
Other Required Application Documents
To submit your supplemental documents via email, please send to: TolLRAPCounselor@law.upenn.edu.
The U.S. Department of Education released final regulations on its new income driven repayment (IDR) plan, which will provide student loan borrowers with the most affordable repayment plan ever. The SAVE plan will cut payments on undergraduate loans in half compared to other IDR plans, ensure that borrowers never see their balance grow as long as they keep up with their required payments, and protect more of a borrower’s income for basic needs.
The Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) Plan, like other income-driven repayment (IDR) plans, calculates your monthly payment amount based on your income and family size. The SAVE Plan provides the lowest monthly payments of any IDR plan available to nearly all student borrowers.
The SAVE Plan replaced the Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) Plan. Borrowers on the REPAYE Plan automatically get the benefits of the new SAVE Plan.
Changes under SAVE and what this means for you: https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/save-plan
Additional SAVE Plan Information and Estimated Monthly Payment Table: https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/save-plan
UPDATE 9/1/2023: The U.S. Department of Education’s COVID-19 relief for student loans is ending this year. Student loan interest will resume starting on Sept. 1, 2023, and payments will be due starting in October
For more information, please see the following links:
The passing of the Cares Act has important implications for our graduates who are currently repaying their loans. The Cares Act provides much needed financial relief of loan payments during this uncertain time. We realize that you may have unique concerns as a TolLRAP and/or PSLF (Public Service Loan Forgiveness) participant.
Please see the below summary and additional links to learn more about this legislation. We’ve also provided a short FAQ section to address the most common questions we’ve received from our participants.
You can also contact our financial aid office at TolLRAPCounselor@law.upenn.edu if you have any specific questions about your personal situation.
For all federal student loans owned by the U.S. Department of Education (includes all DIRECT LOANS):
- Interest is waived until August 31, 2023 (no action required by student/borrower)
Loans in active repayment will be placed on an ADMINISTRATIVE FORBEARANCE for six months thereby suspending repayment until August 31, 2023 (no action required by student/borrower)
- These months will count as qualifying months toward all forgiveness benefits including PSLF
- Borrowers must contact their loan service if they want to “opt out” of this administrative forbearance
- More information - https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/coronavirus
- Read actual legislation (Section 3515) - https://files.taxfoundation.org/20200325223111/FINAL-FINAL-CARES-ACT.pdf
- Join Accesslex for an informative webinar - https://www.accesslex.org/tools-and-resources/ramping-up-repayment
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q. If I’m in the PSLF program, should I opt out of the automatic Administrative Forbearance?
A. No, according to the legislation, this time is counted toward PSLF. You do have the option of continuing to make payments that will be applied directly toward the principal balance during this time period.
Q. Should I make payments during this time period?
A. You should only consider making payments if you are unsure that you will remain in the PSLF program for 10 years. In general, if you are unsure of your long-term career goals, you should always pay as much as you can toward your loans – including assistance from TolLRAP. Any funds received from Penn that are not used for student loan payments, could have tax implications. You should consult with a tax professional for more guidance.
Q. I’ve made a payment after March 13th, 2020 and before my loans were placed in an Administrative Forbearance. What should I do?
A. Any payment you made during the administrative forbearance period (March 13, 2020, through December 31, 2022) can be refunded. Contact your loan servicer to request that your payment be refunded.
Q. My loans are now in the Administrative Forbearance, do I need to return any funds to TolLRAP?
Q. Will there be any changes to TolLRAP’s disbursement schedule?
Questions? Please contact TolLRAPCounselor@law.upenn.edu .
FedLoan Servicing has announced that it will stop servicing federal student loans when its current contract ends. You can read more about this on the Federal Student Aid website: https://fsapartners.ed.gov/knowledge-center/library/electronic-announcements/2022-06-03/public-service-loan-forgiveness-program-transitioning-fedloan-servicing-mohela-updated-dec-14-2022. This page will be updated as more information becomes available, so check back often.
Once this happens, your loans will be transferred to MOHELA. We recommend the following article from Forbes: Your Student Loan Servicer Is Changing: 7 Steps To Protect Yourself Now. We have summarized the article below.
Print Or Download All Student Loan Payment Records
Save Copies of All Student Loan Correspondence
Public Service Loan Forgiveness: Certify Your Employment And Escalate Disputes
Monitor Payments and Auto-Debits
Monitor Your Credit Report
Keep Your Contact Information Up To Date With Your Student Loan Servicer
Verify The New Student Loan Servicer After The Transfer
TolLRAP offers support for private bar loans up to $10,000. The eligible graduate will be paid out based on a 10-year loan repayment plan, as of the time the loans were taken out, with a maximum annual payment of $1,400. When a bar loan cannot be taken on a term of 10 years, it will be pro-rated based on a 10 year schedule and at the interest rate reported at the time of the application.
For Married Applicants: Filing Joint Federal Tax Returns
Your filing status on your federal tax return will have an impact on your IDR payment amount. To determine your IDR payment, when filing jointly, the government will calculate your payment using the joint income reported on your federal tax forms. In most cases, this will increase your IDR monthly payment. Married borrowers who file separate federal tax returns will have their IDR payments calculated based on their individual income.
Graduates will receive assistance from TolLRAP II based on their portion of the IDR payment if filing jointly (not based on the joint income). TolLRAP II awards will be calculated using the income documented in the Employment Verification Form. This could result in a payment from TolLRAP which is less than your required monthly IDR payment as required by the government.
Married applicants in TolLRAP I filing jointly will have their eligibility determined based on the higher of their individual income or half of the joint income.
Applicants should consider all financial ramifications carefully when determining your federal tax filing status. Consulting a tax advisor is recommended.
Consolidating Student Loans
Consolidation is not always necessary to participate in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program and TolLRAP II. Consolidation is only necessary if you have ineligible loans through the old Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL/Stafford) or Perkins student loan programs. Be careful not to consolidate eligible Direct Loans upon which you have already made qualifying PSLF payments before coming to Law School. This action will nullify any qualifying payments made on these loans. The Perkins Loan also has separate cancellations benefits that can become invalid by consolidating this loan. Please review this page on studentaid.gov to determine if consolidation is right for you.
Perkins Loan Cancellation Program
Before consolidating your Perkins Loan so that it can be included in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program and thus be considered for TolLRAP II, consider the cancellation provisions already provided by this program. Law graduates who serve in Law enforcement (i.e. prosecutors or defense attorneys) can be eligible for the Perkins Loan Cancellation program. Under this program, the Perkins Loan could be forgiven sooner compared to the PSLF program, which could mean greater financial and career flexibility for the borrower.
Applying for IDR or Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
Applying for IDR
- Determine eligibility using Repayment Calculator
- Inform your loan servicer that you would like to apply for IDR
- Follow instructions provided by your loan servicer or the on-line application can be found at www.studentaid.gov
Applying for PSLF
- Download Employment Certification Form
- Have employer complete applicable section on form
- Submit completed form to MOHELA (it’s recommended that you complete this form each year)
- Upon review of your Employment Certification, additional documentation may be requested
- MOHELA will notify you if your employment qualifies, and if so, how many payments during the certification period were qualifying payments, the total number of qualifying payments you have made, and how many payments you must still make before you can qualify for PSLF
Additional information on IDR and the PSLF program can be found below:
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A fierce advocate for people impacted by incarceration, Sadye Stern L’22 worked on parole justice with Amistad Law Project.
Three LLM Post-Graduate Public Interest Fellows advance careers dedicated to public interest in an international arena.
Devontae Torriente L’24 sees potential for growth, progress, and optimism amidst a significant departure from established constitutional precedent.
Supported by the Peggy Browning Fund, three Penn Carey Law students are advocating for labor rights, inspired by their own experiences as activists, organizers, and workers.