Emergency Alumni Relief Fund

Northwestern Law established the Emergency Alumni Relief Fund (EAR) in 2016 to assist JD program alumni who have graduated at least two years prior and who encounter financial challenges caused by uncontrollable life events. 

Through this program, a limited amount of funds has been set aside to assist alumni who encounter unforeseen trials. On a first-come, first-served basis, qualifying graduates may apply to receive an amount approximately equal to the interest that otherwise would accrue on their law school loans during the corresponding calendar year. Funds are awarded in a single allotment. 

Preference is given to alumni who no longer qualify for the Interest Freedom Plan (IFP) or the Law School’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP), who are not currently receiving benefits from an employer-related disability plan, and who have been confronted with the following circumstances:

  • Two consecutive years (24 months) with an annual household income less than $90,000 or current employment or an accepted offer with an employer with an annual salary less than $90,000

AND at least one of the following two scenarios:

  1. Current outstanding law school debt of $100,000 or more;
  2. A documented illness, injury, or disability hindering their current employment status.

Eligible alumni may receive one award during any 2-calendar year period. Awards for 2nd-time recipients are calculated as the lesser of a) one's previous award or b) an amount approximately equal to the interest that would otherwise accrue during your loans' 2nd year of repayment.

Awards are calculated using the prevailing Grad Plus loan interest rate as of the date the most recent class graduated – presently 7.08% and are based on a 10-year repayment plan. For illustrative purposes, a $100,000 loan at 7.08% interest equates to an annual benefit of $6,852. 

To apply, graduates must submit a cover letter outlining the rationale for their request; proof of employment, if employed; a copy of their federal tax returns for the two most recent tax years; and, if applicable, supporting documentation describing an illness, injury, or disability hindering their current employment status. All application materials and questions should be emailed to EAR@law.northwestern.edu. Application materials are reviewed by a committee.

In rare circumstances, the Law School may provide EAR Fund awards to recent graduates who also qualify for LRAP or IFP funding. In such cases, the EAR Fund award reduces their LRAP or IFP eligibility by an amount equal to the EAR Fund award. The EAR Fund award in these circumstances may not exceed LRAP or IFP eligibility. Awards in these instances are based upon an itemization of unmet essential living expenses and a cover letter describing the circumstances motivating the request.

Program participants should note that their awards may be subject to taxes and they are advised to consult a tax professional concerning their individual circumstances.