Osgoode makes new investments in accessible legal education

Osgoode Hall Law School main foyer hallway

Osgoode Hall Law School at York University announced Sept. 27 substantial new investments in financial accessibility to ensure that a greater number of students are able to access legal education.

Following on the heels of a $1-million investment in new financial aid funding in 2015 that allowed for the creation of the first-in-Canada Income Contingent Loan Program (ICLP), and the awarding of 50 bursaries a year over two years to commemorate Osgoode’s 50th anniversary at York, the Law School is now investing a further $200,000 this year to expand the ICLP from five to seven students annually. The duration of the pilot program will also be extended from five to seven years to the year 2022.

In addition to the ICLP expansion, Osgoode will also invest an additional $500,000 in its Accessibility Fund, which will be allocated to a range of bursaries, including Wendy Babcock Social Justice Awards, aimed at alleviating the burden for students graduating with high debt and intent on pursuing public interest career opportunities.

“Rising tuition is a serious barrier to access to legal education,” said Osgoode Dean Lorne Sossin. “We believe that every admitted Osgoode student should be able to obtain legal education regardless of financial means, which is why we are committed to expanding our existing financial assistance initiatives and developing new approaches to financial accessibility.”

The ICLP, which already has enabled 15 students to pursue a Juris Doctor (JD) degree, is one of a range of ambitious accessibility initiatives that Osgoode has introduced in recent years. In the 2016-17 academic year, the Law School distributed more than $5 million in bursaries, scholarships and graduation awards to Osgoode students, and offered paid public interest summer internships for law students with financial need, as well as a free “Access to Law and Learning” LSAT prep course for prospective law students with financial need. Finally, Osgoode’s “Flex-Time” initiative is making it easier for JD students to balance work and/or care commitments with their legal education.

Osgoode’s 2017-18 academic year commenced on Aug. 24, 2017 with the arrival of approximately 300 entering JD students. First-year tuition for domestic students is $26,245.78.

Beginning in the fall of 2018, seven eligible students will receive ICLP funding covering the cost of tuition for each of the three years of the JD program. Each student will be given up to $15,000 annually as a bursary that they do not have to pay back. The remainder will be a loan that the students must agree to repay after graduation over a 10-year period once they are employed and earning a predetermined amount. If their income sits below the predetermined threshold in any of the years of the repayment period, the loan repayment for those years will be forgiven.