Reducing Your Student Loans Through Acts of Public Service
Learn how pursuing a career for the greater good and becoming a volunteer can help eliminate your student debt.
Imagine getting help paying off your student loans in exchange for helping others every day. It may sound far-fetched, but it can become a reality through special loan forgiveness and repayment assistance programs that reward Americans who dedicate their career and time to public service. From working as a teacher or doctor in an underserved community to protecting our nation as a member of the military to becoming an AmeriCorps volunteer, there are many ways to qualify for loan aid that can eliminate thousands of dollars of college debt. This guide highlights these programs and explains eligibility requirements. Whether you’re a new student, recent graduate, or seasoned public service professional, keep reading to see how you can pay for college by paying it forward.
Major Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
There are two primary student loan forgiveness programs provided by the federal government for those in public service careers – the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program and the Perkins Loan Cancellation program. Learn more about each below.
In addition to the PSLF Program and Perkins Loan Cancellation, the Biden-Harris Administration just passed the Student Debt Relief Plan that will qualify Pell Grant recipients making $125,000 per year or less for $20,000 worth of student loan forgiveness and non-Pell Grant recipients for $10,000 worth of student loan forgiveness.
The application form for this will open in early October 2022.
In the meantime, you can prepare by doing the following:
~ Check your eligibility here.
~ Log on to your account at www.studentaid.gov and make sure your contact info is up to date & sign up for alerts.
~ If you don’t already have an account, sign up at www.studentaid.gov to manage your loans.
~ Make sure you know your loan balances and what types they are so you can be ready to apply for relief.
The plan also includes provisions for extending the loan repayment pause in 2022 and lowering student loan payments going forward. Learn more on the US Department of Education Website.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program
Perhaps the most well-known option, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program was created in 2007. Applicants must work full-time either for a federal, state, local, or tribal government or a nonprofit organization. Qualification is not based on the specific job type or title. Applicants must pay 120 qualifying student loan payments over a 10-year period through an income-driven repayment plan to receive consideration.
Perkins Loan Cancellation
The Perkins Loan Program was eliminated in 2017, but college graduates with Federal Perkins Loans from before this time can still qualify for loan cancellation if they meet certain requirements. New students cannot take advantage of this option unless future administrations renew the program.
Student Loan Forgiveness Programs by Public Service Career
The previous sections focused on loan forgiveness programs that provide support to those working in a variety of public service positions. The next section looks at career-specific opportunities for public service professionals who want to wipe out their student loan debt.
Student Loan Forgiveness for Teachers
Given the important work teachers do in supporting the greater good of the country each and every day, both the government and nonprofit organizations have looked for ways to relieve their student loan debt burden. We look at a couple of the top options below.
Student Loan Forgiveness for Nurses and Other Healthcare Professionals Working in High-Need Areas
Medical professionals dedicate their lives to caring for others and keeping us physically and mentally well. Because of their selfless work, several loan forgiveness programs exist for qualifying healthcare workers.