The cost of attending college is constantly increasing in the United States. Things like tuition, bookstore supplies, and, in some places, even rent are being raised each year.
Due to increased expenses, it is almost impossible for anyone outside of the top one percent to graduate from college without accumulating loans over just a few years.
Ideally, those loans can be paid off not long after graduation if a job that pays well has already been lined up. However, fewer college graduates are finding lucrative jobs right after college.
Fortunately, there is help available. If you are one of these many college graduates without well-paying work or with an astronomical amount of debt, you may qualify for a form of student loan forgiveness, which is the best kind of relief you can receive for such debt. Keep reading to determine whether you qualify for any of these student loan forgiveness programs.
Five Student Loan Forgiveness Programs that Might Be For You
Please note that only some federal student loan debt can be forgiven, although there are other ways to manage private loans.
If you have a federal loan (or a few), here are five student loan forgiveness programs that might work for you.
Income-Driven Repayment Plan
If your monthly payments are very strenuous to your budget, you may be eligible for an Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plan. An IDR plan is generally the best option for anyone working in a field with low pay and struggling with a large amount of student loan debt.
You must reiterate your income and reapply annually, but there is no fee for applying and the paperwork can be completed without assistance.
An IDR plan will stretch your student loan payment period from ten years to twenty or twenty-five years. These plans also cap your payment at ten or fifteen percent of the income that goes directly to you. So long as you make all of your payments during the twenty years, the remainder of your loan debt will be forgiven.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness
If you are a government or nonprofit employee, you may qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). The only way to truly benefit from this program is to also be enrolled in an IDR plan, as your debt will not be forgiven under PSLF until you have made one hundred and twenty payments, which takes at least ten years for most people.
Without having payments reduced with IDR, the entire loan would end up being repaid with no forgiveness. This program is not an option if you are a recent graduate, as you will not have enough payments made to qualify.
Please be aware that many people have had trouble getting approved for PSLF due to misleading loan servicers or small technicalities. At the very least, attempt to enroll in an IDR plan.
State-Sponsored Repayment Forgiveness
In some states, if you are a certified doctor, lawyer, nurse, or teacher, you may be able to apply for programs that will aid you in paying your student loan debt.
Take a look at some programs: https://thecollegeinvestor.com/578/ways-to-get-student-loan-forgiveness/.
- Minnesota, for instance, has numerous state assistance programs for physical and mental health care providers, including dentists, midwives, therapists, and social workers. In this state, health care providers may be forgiven for up to twenty-five thousand dollars annually in exchange for their service.
- In Mississippi, a program for teachers will pay up to three thousand dollars towards their student loan debt per year for at least four years if they are willing to teach a specific subject full-time.
To determine if your residential state has any such Repayment Assistance Programs (RAPs), contact your state department of higher education, healthcare board, or legal committee. Some of this information is also readily available through Google search, so it can be beneficial to do both.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness
While there are many options for teachers in terms of loan forgiveness, most of them are not very generous. In addition to certain RAP programs mentioned above, if you are considered a “highly qualified” teacher, meaning that you are state-certified and possess no less than a Bachelor’s degree, some of your loan debt may be forgiven. Also, you cannot receive this form of loan forgiveness until you have taught full-time for at least five years.
Math and science teachers for the secondary level, as well as special education teachers at the primary or secondary school level, are the only teachers that may have up to seventeen thousand dollars in debt forgiven. For all other teachers, forgiveness is capped at five thousand dollars.
Military Student Loan Forgiveness
If you are a member of a branch of the United States military, including the Air Force, Army, Navy, Coast Guard, and National Guard, there are several exclusive student loan forgiveness programs that you may be eligible for.
For instance, any of these military members may qualify for the National Defense Student Loan Discharge. This program enables a military member in a hostile area of impending danger to have anywhere from half to all of their student loan forgiven, depending on when your service started. The National Guard has a Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) that may pay for up to fifty thousand dollars in loan debt.
Contact your loan servicer for more information. You may also be able to defer your student loan payments if you are on active duty.
Some Potential Risks
Most forgiven loans are considered a taxable form of income unless you have to work for a specific employer or in a particular field to be eligible for said loan. Forgiveness under an IDR plan is taxable, for instance, but forgiveness from PSLF is not. All of these stipulations can be misleading or overwhelming. Be sure to ask about taxes when applying for a forgiveness program.
It is also important to realize that there are no fees for applying to legitimate, government-sponsored student loan forgiveness programs. Some scammers will bill you for several costs up-front and then depart with your money, leaving you more in financial trouble than ever. Avoid any companies that want money from you for forgiveness programs.
Important Information to Take Away
While student loan debt can be an overwhelming burden, even for college graduates with lucrative jobs, student loan forgiveness programs offer some degree of relief. In a few specific situations, such as if you are a military member in immediate danger, you may have all of your debt forgiven.
However, each student loan forgiveness program has specific conditions that need to be met, and some of them are not very helpful unless you manage to meet very high criteria or avoid technicalities. Criteria for some student loan forgiveness programs vary by state. Income-Driven Repayment plans tend to be the most helpful if you qualify for those. Be mindful of scams, as well as any debt forgiveness that may qualify as taxable.