Tufts Loan Repayment Assistance Program Heads into Fifth Year Helping Grads Work in Public Service

MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass. – As it enters its fifth year, Tufts University's first-of-a-kind loan repayment assistance program (LRAP) continues to help graduates working in the non-profit and public-service sectors pay back their student loans, despite a tough economy.

The Tufts program is believed to be the country's first LRAP open to graduates of all schools across an entire university. 

Since its launch, Tufts' LRAP has given more than 1,115 awards to alumni; approximately 290 of these alumni have benefited over multiple years. LRAP has given approximately $435,000 per year to alumni.

Anyone who has earned a degree from the university, is paying off educational loans incurred in order to attend Tufts and is employed by a non-profit or public sector organization is eligible to apply for an award each year.  Each year the program distributes on average $435,000 in individual awards ranging from $500 to $5,000. The initiative is part of Tufts' larger commitment to enabling graduates to make a difference in the world and to finding innovative ways to address the cost of higher education.

Award recipients come from many fields, notes Nancy Wilson, interim dean at Tufts Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, but one thing they have in common is a passion for putting service to others above financial rewards.

  • Pursuing Special Education Teaching
    "LRAP has allowed me to stay in my profession without worrying if I can pay my loans each month," says Jessica Nackel, a psychology major who graduated in 2006 from the School of Arts and Sciences and is working as a special education teacher in Charleston, S.C. She teaches students with mild to moderate learning and emotional disabilities, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism. "Tufts helped instill in me an interest in public service. I believe my job is important because I am educating a community that has not had the same opportunities as I have. I'm positively affecting the lives of students who come from difficult backgrounds."
  • Dental Care for Veterans
    Anthony Pasquale, a 2007 graduate of the Tufts School of Dental Medicine, understands the importance of public service in his job as a staff dentist with the United States Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). Working with disabled veterans on a daily basis, he says "these patients tend to have increased medical needs, so it is critical to have highly trained, competent individuals to care for them." Pasquale now mentors Tufts students who do externships at the VA and, like him, want to pursue careers in public service.
  • Promoting Healthy Eating
    "The public sector has a great responsibility to keep things in this country running smoothly, safely and equitably, and I want to help make that happen," says Joshua Strauss, a 2005 graduate of Tufts' Fletcher School who works for the USDA Food and Nutrition Service. Strauss has received LRAP awards in  multiple years and says they have helped "take the sting" out of some of his student loans as he works with states to ensure the proper administration of federal School Nutrition Programs and the Child and Adult Care Food Program.
  • Helping Others Receive College Access
    Ileana Casellas-Katz, an American Studies major who graduated in 2008 from the School of Arts and Sciences, has received Tufts LRAP awards for the past four years, helping her to make public service a "lifelong commitment." Says Katz, "I want to repay and pay forward all the great opportunities I've received in my life and do whatever it takes to make it a more level playing field for everyone to receive similar opportunities." She is leveling that playing field through her work at The Posse Foundation, a college access and youth leadership development program that sends students to college in groups that act as a support system.

Funding for Tufts' LRAP is provided by income from the Omidyar-Tufts Microfinance Fund (which was established in 2005 with a $100 million gift from Tufts graduates Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay, and his wife, Pamela) and from a donation from the estate of George B. and Helen J. Hargens. Applications for this year's awards are due Sept. 1.


Tufts University, located on three Massachusetts campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville, and Grafton, and in Talloires, France, is recognized among the premier research universities in the United States. Tufts enjoys a global reputation for academic excellence and for the preparation of students as leaders in a wide range of professions. A growing number of innovative teaching and research initiatives span all campuses, and collaboration among the faculty and students in the undergraduate, graduate and professional programs across the university is widely encouraged.






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