The Career Options Assistance Program (COAP)

Law school is expensive. With tuition exceeding $60,000 per year at top private law schools, many prospective students worry about how they will pay for their student loans after graduation. While young lawyers who work for large firms may be able to shoulder the burden of educational debt with relative ease, private practice is not for everyone. Some students dream of jobs in smaller firms, nonprofit organizations, public interest, government service or academia. These are jobs that typically pay less than those at large firms. Yale Law School has pioneered a loan repayment assistance program to allow these students to take their dream jobs without worrying about their student loans. 

Established in 1989, the Career Options Assistance Program (COAP) was one of the first loan forgiveness programs of its kind. Since its inception, it has served as a model for similar programs at law schools across the country. Today, it is one of the most distinctive, generous, and flexible loan forgiveness programs available at any law school. Our goal is to make it easier for our students to take the job of their choice. To that end, COAP participants making less than a set income threshold will not be expected to make contributions toward their law school loans subject to minimal eligibility requirements. Those with adjusted incomes above that level will be asked to contribute a portion toward repaying their law school loans, with COAP covering the rest.


***COAP during COVID-19 ***

If you are a COAP participant and you have become unemployed due to COVID-19, the Law School will allow up to three one-month extensions of the standard three month unemployment benefit (for a total of six months maximum). To receive the additional award, the participant:

  • must be enrolled in  COAP at the time they become unemployed;
  • have loans that are in repayment; and
  • must submit an unemployment form confirming that they are unemployed due to COVID-19 and actively seeking employment each month (for up to three months).

If the participant is approved for an additional award, the loan payment will be made directly to the Student Loan Office at Yale University. Please contact the Financial Aid Office for additional assistance or any questions.


***COVID19 and Forbearance Information for COAP Participants***

During the federal moratorium on ED-owned federal student loans, YLS is still processing COAP awards. Many COAP participants have decided to continue in COAP, and make their loan payments as usual. The significant benefit of making payments while the loans are in this forbearance status is that all payments are applied directly to the principal balance of your loan. If, however, you have decided to take a pause from making loan payments on your ED-owned federal student loans, we can also pause your COAP award. By taking this option, you will not lose any eligible years in the COAP program. When the suspension is lifted and you return to repayment and COAP, we will resume COAP awards where you left off in the COAP cycle. The federal suspension is in effect until August 31, 2022. You can find more information about the federal forberance here. Please contact our office if you have any questions, or would like to discuss your options.

Contact Information -

(203) 432-1688

Jacqueline Van De Velde ’17 talks about financial aid and COAP at Yale Law School.

I chose to attend Yale Law School because I wanted to direct my own education. Twenty-five years later, freedom and flexibility are still the best things about this place. As a YLS student, you get to decide what you want to study. ”

James Forman Jr.

Class of 1992, J. Skelly Wright Professor of Law