Summer Public Interest Fellowship (SPIF)

About Summer Fellowship Aid / SPIF

Yale supports one of the most expansive programs of summer public interest work in the law school world. In the summer of 2023, we provided more than $1.1 million in fellowships for over 135 students through the Summer Public Interest Fellowship (SPIF) program. We will continue this program for the summer of 2024 supporting Yale students working in public interest, government, and not-for-profit organizations.

"As an older student with previous educational and asset debt, the impulse was strong to prioritize the financial benefits of working at a firm over the valuable public interest experiences that would help me as an aspiring civil rights lawyer. SPIF not only allayed those fears for me, it helped me to make a contribution to a public interest organization working with meager means, in addition to allowing such organizations to benefit from the unique talent and drive of YLS students. While my summer colleagues struggled to obtain funding for their work, I felt extremely lucky to have SPIF on my side."

- Viviane Scott, J.D. Candidate, Class of 2014

In the summer of 2023 SPIF awards supported YLS student work at more than 100 diverse organizations and agencies including:

American Civil Liberties Union

Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law

Brennan Center For Justice

Bronx Defenders

Center For Children's Advocacy

Department of Justice

Disability Rights Legal Center

Environmental Defense Fund

Legal Aid Society

NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund

National Center for Lesbian Rights

National Women's Law Center

Office of Management and Budget

Office of the Mayor of the City of New York

Office of the United States Trade Representative

Orleans Public Defenders

Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Securities and Exchange Commission

Sierra Club

Southern Center for Human Rights

U.S. Attorney's Office

Wikimedia Foundation

World Bank

We define the program broadly to include as many opportunities as possible. Work in federal, state, and local government and with an existing not-for-profit organizations with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status qualifies for SPIF. Please note that funds are not available for judicial clerkships since this opportunity is broadly available to Yale students after graduation without prior clerkship experience. However, 1L students who are non-U.S. citizens are eligible to receive SPIF funding for volunteer summer internships with U.S. federal judges during their 1L summer since they have very few opportunities to clerk after graduation. Because of the University’s 501(c)(3) status, SPIF funds are not available for work on political campaigns. For positions outside the United States, it is impossible to define a precise eligibility standard, but in general, governmental entities and those entities that would be 501(c)(3) organizations if they were located in the United States will qualify. Other work, such as legal work for unions or public interest law firms, may qualify, but you should not assume that it does absent an affirmative ruling by the Financial Aid Office. All eligible employers must also comply with the Law School’s Nondiscrimination Policy. For instructions on confirming organization compliance, please see here. To guide your job search and selection process, you may request an advisory ruling on whether the organization qualifies by giving the Financial Aid Office a description of the organization. Particular positions are eligible provided that the organization does not pay other similarly-situated summer interns and that the work is public interest in nature.

Example 1: Research assistants generally are not eligible for SPIF because most universities pay other research assistants.

Example 2: If Government Agency XYZ has a policy that it will pay summer interns who are 2Ls, but not those who are 1Ls, 1L interns would be eligible for SPIF.

Student Eligibility

Student eligibility for the program is based on demonstrated financial need.

Automatic Eligibility

  • Students who are receiving financial aid scholarships from the Law School;
  • Students who have completed the 2024-2025 FAFSA and have demonstrated financial need. The 2024-2025 FAFSA will calculate the Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) and if this number is at or below the total cost-of-attendance, a student is eligible to receive SPIF funds (refer to the Student Aid Report (SAR).

Students may receive SPIF funding for two summers. Funding is not available for the summer after graduation.

Joint degree students must be enrolled in the Law School for either the semester before or the semester after the summer fellowship to qualify.

Financing Your Public Interest Summer Information Session

Recorded financial aid presentation on Wednesday, November 6, 2023. The presentation included details of the process and eligibility requirements for summer funding.

Please Note: If a student does not automatically qualify for summer grant assistance, the student can submit a 2025 SPIF Supplemental Form for further consideration. The student will be notified if they are deemed eligible for funding based on information provided on the SPIF Supplemental Form. In addition, if a student's budget allows, borrowing additional loans can be an option. These loans are eligible to be covered by COAP, our loan forgiveness program, after graduation.

Summer public interest work is such an important and valuable experience for Yale students so the Law School has guaranteed that a SPIF fellowship will be a maximum of $8,000 for a maximum of 12 weeks (pro-rated at $666.66 per week). Students who receive outside funding from grants, stipends from their public interest employer, additional jobs, etc., should consult with the Financial Aid Office to determine if the additional income will impact SPIF eligibility. In most cases, part-time work will not impact a SPIF award.

Split Summers

Please note that you may only receive a total of 12 weeks of funding from the Law School for SPIF, Schell, Linkages or other Law School programs. Students who split the summer between a public interest organization and a private law firm, generally are not eligible for SPIF funding because the earnings will be more than the $8,000 maximum allowed summer budget.


The process of applying for SPIF has a two-part application process:

SPIF Part 1 will be due on February 15, 2025.

Students will submit an online form to indicate interest in participation. You do not need to have a job in order to complete SPIF Part 1. Part 1 will determine eligibility, it is not a commitment. If Part 1 is deemed eligible, student will receive instructions for SPIF Part 2.

SPIF Part 2 due March 15, 2025. Eligible students will complete online form to confirm employer, number of weeks working, and letter from employer confirming position, number of weeks, and non-profit status.


If you cannot meet these deadlines, please contact the Financial Aid Office to make alternate arrangements—otherwise you will not be eligible for SPIF funding.

For those seeking Schell Center Kirby Simon Summer Fellowships, please contact Schell Center at (203) 432-7480 or schell.law@yale.edu. Those seeking Schell Center Kirby Simon Summer Fellowships for international human rights work MUST complete SPIF Part 1 form AND must complete the Schell Summer Fellowship Application.

For those seeking Entrepreneurship Summer Funding (ESF), please contact Jonathan Biondi from the Tsai Leadership Program at jonathan.biondi@yale.edu. Those seeking funding for ESF MUST complete SPIF Part 1 form AND must complete the Entrepreneurship Summer Funding Application, Part 2.


SPIF Funds will be electronically deposited to the student's bank account via Zelle beginning the first week of May 2025. If a paper check is preferred, the check will be mailed to the student. Please note, paper checks may delay receipt of funding.


Summer SPIF stipends are not subject to tax withholdings and will be paid in one lump sum.  Students will receive a 1099-MISC form from Yale University for SPIF income at the beginning of the calendar year.  If the student is required to file a federal or state tax return, the stipend must be reported.  It is the student's responsibility to consult with a tax advisor or IRS Topic 421 for any questions about the tax liabilities of SPIF summer funding.