With Americans carrying well over $1 trillion of federal student loan debt alone, it’s no wonder people are eager to find ways to lighten the load.
There are many ways to ease the burden of student loan debt, especially if you have federal debt. Federal student loan debt comes with all sorts of flexible repayment options for borrowers struggling to make ends meet.
But even beyond that, there are programs in place that can actually help borrowers get their student loans forgiven — if not completely, then at least partially.
We’ll cover a few of the programs in this post.
1. Public Service Loan Forgiveness. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program’s future is uncertain (President Trump’s proposed education budget would end the program by July 2018), but it’s still worth noting. Over half a million student loan borrowers are currently eligible for the program.
To be eligible, you must work in a qualifying public-sector or nonprofit job and make 120 consecutive on-time student loan payments. MagnifyMoney has created an in-depth guide on qualifying and signing up for PSLF, which you can find here.
2. Perkins Loan Cancellation and Discharge: This program is for people who perform certain types of public service or have certain occupations. According to the Department of Education, for each complete year of service, a percentage of the loan may be forgiven. That percentage will vary, of course, depending on your employer and job type.
Read more about the program here.
Here’s a list of workers who may qualify for Perkins:
- Volunteer in the Peace Corps or ACTION program (including VISTA).
- Member of the armed forces (serving in area of hostilities).
- Nurse or medical technician.
- Head Start worker.
- Worker in child or family services.
- Professional provider of early intervention services.
3. Teacher Loan Forgiveness: Public schoolteachers likely qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, but there’s an even older federal forgiveness program that they should know about as well. The federal teacher loan forgiveness program allows eligible teachers to have $17,500 of subsidized and unsubsidized loans and subsidized and unsubsidized federal Stafford loans forgiven.
The program is open to teachers who:
- Work full time for five complete and consecutive academic years.
- Work in certain elementary and secondary schools and educational service agencies that serve low-income families, and meet other qualifications.
4. Lawyer loan forgiveness. Law school debt is a fact of life for anyone wanting to pursuing a legal career. Thankfully there are forgiveness programs available at the national level, as well as state and local levels in many places, that can help debt-strapped law school grads put a dent in their loans.
Here are a couple of examples:
- Lawyers with at least $10,000 in federal student loans may qualify for the Department of Justice Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program (ASLRP).
- The John R. Justice Student Loan repayment program provides assistance for state and federal public defenders and state prosecutors for at least three years and is renewable after three years.
- Since states have their own assistance programs, you should check with your state bar association as well. Student Loan Hero has a detailed list here.
5. Doctor and health professional loan forgiveness. Eligible borrowers may qualify for doctor loan forgiveness options, especially if they are willing to work in underserved communities.
Some examples of state-run programs include:
- Oregon’s Primary Care Loan Forgiveness Program, which offers up to $35,000 per year of forgiveness in exchange for one year of employment in rural Oregon.
- The Minnesota Rural Physician Loan Forgiveness Program. It offers up to $25,000 per year for practicing physicians willing to work for a minimum of three years in rural Minnesota.
There are also medical loan forgiveness options through the Army, Navy and Air Force.
MagnifyMoney is a price comparison and financial education website, founded by former bankers who use their knowledge of how the system works to help you save money.