College isn’t getting any cheaper, and if you’re working towards an undergraduate or graduate degree, student loan debt may be your reality. Even if your parents or employer are generous and cover some of your costs, you may have to settle your balance with the help of a student loan. A student loan can provide the funds you need to complete your schooling, but they can also add to your stress level after graduation.
Student loans are not grants or scholarships, thus you’re required to pay back every cent borrowed. And while federal and some private student loan lenders defer payments until six months after graduation, if you’re unable to find a job – or a decent paying position – you may have difficulty paying back your loan.
Despite the downside, the benefits of a student loan are undeniable. You can attend school with limited resources. Plus, a loan can eliminate the need to work and pay your way through school, thus helping you graduate faster. Still, there’s no escaping the debt that follows completion of a degree program. But there is a way to reduce this financial burden. By means of a student loan forgiveness program, you can have all or a portion of your student loan debt canceled. However, to take advantage of these programs, you have to work in specific professions.
1. U.S. Military Service
Certain military service after college may qualify for student loan forgiveness. This includes active duty Army and Navy service, Army and Navy reserves, and service in the National Guard. Program requirements vary depending on the type of service and the length of enlistment. However, federal law limits military debt forgiveness to $65,000 per person.
If you work full-time as a teacher, and you paid for your education with a Perkins Loan, a Stafford Loan or a Direct Loan, you may be eligible for teacher loan forgiveness. Not every teacher will qualify for forgiveness, as certain conditions must apply. To qualify, you must teach in a low-income area for a minimum of one to five years.
The amount of student loan forgiveness varies depending on the particular loan. For example, eligible teachers with a Perkins Loan can have a percentage of their debt forgiven for each year up service – up to 100% of their loan. The longer they teach in qualifying areas, the less they have to pay back. However, some loan forgiveness programs cancel a smaller percentage of debt. For example, qualifying teachers with a Stafford Loan may only have $5,000 of their student loan debt forgiven after five years of service.
3. Medical Profession
A six-figure student loan debt is not uncommon for medical doctors. However, certain medical forgiveness programs are available to cancel a percentage of this debt. For doctors who conduct research in a qualifying area, the National Institute of Heath will repay 25% of a doctor’s student debt balance for each year of research. Additionally, the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program offers loan repayment up to $50,000 in exchange for two years of volunteer service. Loan forgiveness, however, isn’t limited to doctors. Nurses who work in areas with a shortage of registered nurses may qualify for forgiveness through the Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program.
4. Public Service
With the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, graduates who work full-time in a qualifying public service profession may qualify to have all or a portion of their student loan debt forgiven. Eligible professions include employment with a local, state or government agency, a non-profit organization, or a qualifying public service organization – emergency management, public safety, law enforcement, public heath, library service, public interest law and early childhood education.