BUFFALO, N.Y. -- According to the American Bar Association, the average law student graduates with $130,000 in student loan debt.

Many are able to quickly make a dent by going into lucrative private or corporate practices, but Amanda Jack of the Legal Aid Society says those who go into publicly funded work typically make far less.

"That means that it becomes really difficult, especially when we're in public interest jobs or said to have lower pay, to maintain that work and to stay in that work and to keep gaining the experiences necessary to really do the best job we can for the people we represent," she said.

After 10 years of repayment, prosecutors, public defenders and other public interest attorneys who provide things like immigration and housing services, can apply for federal student loan forgiveness. New York tries to bridge the gap by awarding up to $3,400 a year in repayments for attorneys who have worked in the state for at least four years.

"We still need lawyers to do these jobs. We need to ensure justice by ensuring that every New Yorker, regardless of income, has access to proper representation in court," state Sen. Jessica Ramos, D-Queens, said.

Ramos believes these attorneys need more help and is proposing raising the maximum annual assistance to $8,000 and allowing for eligibility after only two years.

"Public defenders have higher caseloads than ever before, especially when it comes to evictions, when it comes to immigration, when it comes to criminal court and we don't want these public defenders to need a second or third job to be able to make their ends meet. We want them to be able to focus on their cases," she said.

Jack said they the expect the total cost to be only $4 million for the state, a nominal ask in the huge budget.

"The most important reason is for the people that we represent and that we serve as public defenders and public interest attorneys because whenever someone leaves for private sector job or just a higher paying job to manage the loan or the debt burden that they have, it means that a case has to get transferred. It means that there's more delay in cases," Jack said.

She said the $8,000 maximum would mean attorneys were paying student loan bills of roughly $667 per month and said most likely do not pay that much right now. She said it would allow attorneys to get the same maximum assistance from the state as nurses, who hold less student loan debt on average.