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An Introduction to PILA+

The PILA+ program is designed to help close a gap in our public service funding. 2022-23 was the pilot year of this program and we look forward to working with the UVA community to continue and strengthen it! The purpose of PILA+ is to provide additional funding for students who are seeking public interest summer internships and have a demonstrable financial need for additional summer funding. It serves as a supplement to the law school’s pre-existing public service summer funding, including the newly re-named UVA Law Public Service Summer Grants and our in-house fellowships administered through the Public Service Center (PSC). This program is 100% student-run, fundraised, and administered. 

Eligibility

PILA+ grants are guaranteed to all eligible students, provided that they first receive a UVA Law Public Service Summer Grant. Students must also verify on their honor that they will not be working at a judicial internship; will not be receiving a stipend of more than $1,000 from their summer employer; will be paying two separate rents over the summer; and will not receive more than $2,000 in either family support or an alternative summer fellowship.

Judicial Internships

Students who are working judicial internships over the summer are not eligible for the PILA+ grant.

Stipend

Students may not earn more than $1,000 from their qualifying public service employer. This amount does not include money earned from jobs other than their public service internship (for example, through Research Assistant positions or employment as a babysitter, waiter, etc.).

Rent

Students must certify that they will be paying two separate rents over the summer. For the purposes of this question, if a student sublets their residence in Charlottesville for the summer, they are not paying two separate rents. Additionally, if a student lives with a friend or family member during the summer in the city where their internship is located, they must pay rent to qualify. 

Family Support

Family support includes all money going towards students' cost of living for the summer. When determining your level of family support, please think broadly. Many things count as family support, including rent support, phone plans, money for groceries, car insurance, car payments, etc. For the purposes of this question, we do not consider health insurance or support for medical costs as family support. Family support can come from any member of your family.

Summer Fellowships

Students may not receive more than $2,000 in combined gross summer fellowship funding other than the UVA Law Public Service Summer Grant and the PILA+ grant. This includes in-house fellowships from UVA (e.g. deWilde, John Paul Stevens, etc.) and outside fellowships for students’ summer living costs. This does not include fellowships or scholarships designed to cover student tuition or living expenses during the academic year. This does not include awards or other honors. 

Fundraising

PILA will continue to hold our traditional fundraising activities, including our silent and live auctions, book sales, restaurant percentage nights, etc. In the past, PILA had a fundraising obligation to the Law School in order to support guaranteed grants to all students. The Law School has graciously agreed to lift this obligation. Now, all money that PILA raises will go towards the PILA+ grants program. 

Frequently Asked Questions: PILA+

Why is PILA instituting this change? 

The current grants program does not take into account demonstrated student financial need. We believe that it is essential to continue having guaranteed baseline financial support for all students. We are grateful for the Law School’s continuing support of public service students. While PILA will continue to actively communicate with the administration about the baseline grant, we view PILA+ as a necessary supplement to the already existing grants program in order to provide additional support and the financial flexibility to public service students.

Does this affect the baseline grants program at all? 

The baseline grant amount will remain the same. 1L students will still be guaranteed to receive $4,000 and 2L students will be guaranteed to receive $7,000 (pre-tax). The eligibility for the baseline grants likewise remains the same: students will be required to complete 40 hours of pro bono service (of which 5 can come from public service hours), accept an offer of employment from an eligible public service employer or have applied to at least five eligible employers by the grant deadline, and return a completed grant application by the given deadline. Students will not be required to complete PILA points (hours of service to help PILA fundraise) in the future. 

Who is eligible for the PILA + Grants? Will these grants be guaranteed?

The PILA+ grants are guaranteed to all eligible students. Students must receive a Public Service Summer Grant. In addition, they must verify on their honor that: 

  • The student will not have a judicial internship over the summer; and

  • The student will not be receiving a summer stipend of over $1,000 from their summer employer; and

  • The student will be paying two separate rents over the summer; and

  • The student does not expect to receive more than $2,000 of family support over the summer intended to assist with their cost of living; and

  • The student has not received a summer fellowship (in-house or otherwise) for over $2,000. If the student receives a fellowship after the disbursement of this grant, they will be expected on their honor to return the funds to PILA for use the next year.

How much will the grants be?

It depends on you! The amount of grants will fluctuate depending on how much PILA is able to raise each year. In the past, PILA has been able to raise up to $58,000 in one year. 

How is the program administered?

The program is completely student run, fundraised, and administered. Every year, PILA will divide the money it has raised into two groups: (1) a reserve amount to cover taxes and to be used in future years if PILA raises substantially less money than expected and (2) all the remaining money. Then, the latter will be divided equally among all eligible students. The Law School Foundation will distribute the PILA+ Grant to students. If there is any money left over (for instance, if a student later receives a fellowship over $2,000 and returns their PILA+ grant), that money will roll over to the next year. 

How will PILA fund these grants? 

PILA will fund these grants through its fundraising activities. These include our live and silent auctions, book sales, charity nights, etc. In the past, PILA has been required to fundraise for the Law School Foundation to fund the baseline grants. The Law School Foundation has graciously relieved PILA of this obligation. Now, all funds PILA raises will go directly to the PILA+ program. 

How can I help?

You can help by participating in PILA’s fundraising activities! This includes donating to and participating in our auctions, buying from the PILA book sales, and participating in our other fundraising initiatives. 

If you would like to donate money directly to PILA, you can mail a check to the following address. Please make checks payable to “Public Interest Law Association.”

 

Public Interest Law Association

c/o Student Affairs Office, SL 109

University of Virginia School of Law

580 Massie Road

Charlottesville, VA 22903

Where can I get more information?

For more information, please contact our Grants Director, Jamison Fletcher, at jgf3uf@virginia.edu, or the Public Service Center at publicservice@law.virginia.edu

Frequently Asked Questions: UVA Law Public Service Summer Grants

What is a public service hour?

These are non-pro bono hours that count toward the minimum hours grant applicants need in order to be eligible to apply. They include uncompensated hours during the academic year (including fall, winter, and spring breaks) spent volunteering in non-profit or governmental activities that directly benefit disadvantaged populations, the environment, animals, or the broader community beyond the university, including hours spent doing charitable work through a student organization. 

Examples of hours that qualify:

  • Tutoring or mentoring disadvantaged populations.

  • Volunteer work with city agencies or local non-profits other than UVA (e.g. trail maintenance for Charlottesville Parks and Recreation; volunteering at the Humane Society; building for Habitat for Humanity).

  • Soliciting donations for a charitable cause or event where a majority of the net proceeds go to charity (e.g. raising money for natural disaster relief or disease research).

  • Organization and coordination of activities that qualify as pro bono or public service hours (e.g. organizing for Alternative Spring Break).

Examples of hours that do NOT qualify:

  • Activities which primarily benefit law students or others in the UVA community (e.g. planning or attending student events, fundraising for an organization’s general fund, attending general meetings or social gatherings of student organizations).

  • Partisan activities (e.g. canvassing for a candidate, fundraising for a political party, lobbying).

  • Hours completed during the summer when school is not in session.

  • Hours that are already counted as pro bono hours.

If you are unsure as to whether a particular activity qualifies as a public service hour, please contact our Grants Director, Jamison Fletcher. 

What is a pro bono hour?

PILA’s definition of "pro bono" is the same as the Pro Bono Program's. We highly recommend that you read the Program’s list of FAQs. If, after reading the definition and FAQs, you still have questions about whether an activity qualifies as pro bono, you should email the Program at probono@law.virginia.edu.

  • Law-related and non-clerical (e.g. interpretation/ applications of the law, legal research and writing, legislative drafting and work in preparation for litigation or trial);

  • For the benefit of legal services, nonprofit organization (501(c)(3) or (4)), governmental agency, or private firm providing pro bono services;

  • Supervised by an attorney or faculty member;

  • Not performed for academic credit or financial compensation; and

  • Completed while the student is enrolled at the Law School.

You can go to GoodWorks to find pro bono opportunities.

How many public service and pro bono hours do I need in order to be eligible for a UVA Law Public Service Summer Grant?

40 completed pro bono/public service hours (no more than 5 hours of which may be public service) completed by the application deadline, OR registration to and acceptance of a PILA-sponsored Alternative Spring Break trip for the upcoming spring.

I’m planning on splitting my summer between two employers. Am I still eligible for a UVA Law Public Service Summer Grant?

As a threshold eligibility requirement for any UVA Law Public Service Summer Grant funding, grantees must work at least 320 hours (the equivalent of 8 weeks of full-time work) during the summer in an eligible public interest position or positions. The requirement of at least 320 hours in a public interest position applies to all grantees, regardless of whether a grantee takes only a portion of the grant money.

What are the tax consequences of a UVA Law Public Service Summer Grant?

Grantees receive fellowship funding through the Law School Foundation’s payroll system. Required federal and state taxes will be deducted from the fellowship payment. Grant recipients must complete and submit all the necessary payroll paperwork before receiving their fellowship payment.

Pre-tax grant amounts are $4,000 for 1Ls and $7,000 for 2Ls. The tax impact will vary on an individual basis. The Law School Foundation, PSC, and PILA cannot give you tax advice, so we encourage you to seek outside opinions if you have further questions about your personal tax situation.

What is a qualifying public service employer?

Students must work for a qualified public service employer to be eligible for a UVA Law Summer Public Service grant. Qualifying employers include:

  • Government (federal, state, or local)

  • Public defenders

  • Non-profits

If you are unsure if an internship is eligible for the grant, please contact the UVA Law Public Service Center at publicservice@law.virginia.edu.

Is there a cap on UVA Law Public Service Summer Grant funding? 

No. Regardless of whether grantees obtain an additional summer fellowship, pay from their internship employers, or other sources of income, they will receive the full amount of their UVA Law Public Service Summer Grants as long as their internship is for a qualifying duration with a qualifying employer.

Important Dates & Deadlines

1

Applications Due

Public Service Summer Grant applications due in February

 

PILA+ applications are due March 17th at midnight.

2

Grant Disbursement

Public Service Summer Grant disbursement in mid-April

 

PILA+ grant disbursement in late April

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