VSAC Receives Continued Funding to Assist Public Service Lawyers
WINOOSKI — Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) has received a grant of $51,515 from the U.S. Department of Justice to go toward student loan forgiveness for attorneys who work as state prosecutors or state or federal public defenders in Vermont.
Attorneys in public service carry comparable education debt to those in private practice, but often earn much less. The Justice Department funding is designed to make it more affordable for attorneys to work as prosecutors and public defenders, and requires recipients to continue in those positions for at least three years following receipt of the aid.
“This grant will help ensure that bright Vermont students can afford to go into public service when they graduate,” said Gov. Peter Shumlin. “It will also help Vermont recruit well-trained and dedicated lawyers to serve as state prosecutors and public defenders.”
This is the third year VSAC has received the funding, although federal cuts resulted in a grant amount this year that is half that awarded each of the prior two years. VSAC administers the program at no charge so that all of the funding can go to eligible recipients. By law, half the dollars must go to prosecutors and half to public defenders.
VSAC works with the state’s Office of the Defender General, its Department of State’s Attorneys, and the Federal Public Defender for the District of Vermont to identify eligible applicants and award funding. The three offices report that the aid is critical to both recruitment and retention of talented attorneys.
VSAC appreciates the efforts of Vermont’s congressional delegation in helping to secure continued funding for the program.