CHICAGO (CBS) — Northwestern University School of Law has launched a new program to ease the burden of student debt for graduates who can’t afford to pay off their loans.

Starting with this year’s graduating class, the university’s new “Interest Freedom Plan” offers one year of forgiveness on student loan interest for recent graduates who either haven’t found a job, earn less than $85,000 a year in the private sector.

Dean Daniel Rodriguez said Northwestern has a good track record of placing its law school graduates in jobs.

“The number of graduating students at Northwestern who are employed is almost all. The average median salary for our graduating students is $160,000 a year,” he said.

However, Rodriguez said the legal industry has experienced a significant jobs’ contraction, and he doubts the market will ever bounce back fully.

“I don’t know that really anybody thinks we’re going to see the number of positions — certainly associate positions at large law firms — that we saw a number of years ago,” he said.

Rodriguez estimated perhaps 20 percent of this year’s graduating class of more than 200 students will be eligible for the debt relief program.