Most significantly, the law school will make interest-free loans to students struggling with debt repayment. The program is run on a "sliding scale, depending on how much you earn and how much you have in the way of debt," Zearfoss says, and the U-M loan can be forgiven after a year--provided the borrower continues to pay other lenders as required. Currently, about 150 law school grads are getting help from the program, Zearfoss, says, and "it's extremely rare" for them to default.
Moore says that although she passed the Michigan law boards, she doesn't yet have a diploma or a transcript from the law school--the university won't release them, because she still owes tuition. She says starting to repay that debt is next on her list. And despite everything, she says, "I love U-M. When I was an undergrad, I used to walk around the Law Quad and think how beautiful it was."
When I catch up with Cooper Stansbury two months after our first interview, he has, after sending out about 100 applications, found two part-time jobs, at Zingerman's Deli and Moosejaw Mountaineering. Though he isn't using his degree in the way he hoped, he feels like he is getting his life back. But he also has realized that to get a career he'll enjoy, maybe teaching, he'll have to return to school, and borrow more money.