Sen. Jeremy Ring proposes money to help government lawyers pay student loan debt

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Margate state Sen. Jeremey Ring wants to help lawyers pay off their student loans if they work as prosecutors and public defenders. The South Florida Democrat filed SB 150 Tuesday, a measure he has sponsored in two previous sessions. Money for student loan payments would become available after serving for at least three years as an assistant state attorney or public defender.

“It is the most grueling job in the legal profession,” Ring explained when he filed the bill before the 2013 session.

The proposal would provide a maximum of $3,000 annually for loan payments to an attorney who has served three to six years. Attorneys who had served for six to 12 years would be eligible for $5,000. Under Ring’s proposal the money would be sent directly to the lender.

Public defenders average between $30,000 and $60,000 a year in salary and struggle to make payments on student loans, typically more than $100,000. The National Association for Law Placement study found that a few graduates land a six-figure job but most don’t. Nearly one in five public defenders and prosecutors quit each year, often citing low pay and high loan payments as the reason why.