4 Ways You Can Get Your Student Loans Forgiven

By Victoria Robertson on March 20, 2019

Student loans can be an absolute nightmare, and that’s no secret. But the necessity of them makes the nightmare even more challenging. Whether you took out (or need to take out) federal loans or private loans, student loan debt can be crippling, and there’s not much you can do to stop it.

At least, until now.

While student loans rack up large bills, that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with a high payment for the rest of your life. So diffuse some of that stress, because there are certainly options out there available to all student loan borrowers. In fact, there are actually more ways out of high student loan payments than you originally thought, it just takes a little creative research to get there.

With that in mind, and in the interest of helping you to pay down (or off) your student loan debt, here are 4 ways that you can get your student loans forgiven.

Photo Via: Pixabay.com

1. Join the Military

Obviously, the most extreme option on this list, joining the military to remove your student loan debt is both rather easy and extremely challenging. Easy in that just about anyone can sign up, challenging in that this is not a commitment that you will want to take lightly.

As of now, the Army, the Army National Guard, the Air Force, the Air Force National Guard and the Navy all offer student loan repayment programs for recruits. These loan repayment programs offer up to $20,000 in repayment, though this amount does depend upon the branch you choose.

The problems with this method are many, however, as $20,000 in debt coverage is hardly making a dent in many students’ loans, which is problematic for a variety of reasons. That being said, it is convenient to at least pay off a portion of your loan, as it may decrease your overall payments pretty significantly, so this option is still worth exploring. In addition, not every branch of the military offers this program, and many students make the mistake of joining a branch for this benefit only to learn that it’s not available to them. If this is your sole reason for wanting to join the military, look at other options or at least be 100 percent certain that this option is going to yield the benefit that you’re looking for. There isn’t much room for error here, as many of these programs require a minimum level of commitment that you can’t back out of once you have signed on.

The Marine Corps, the Coast Guard and the Air Force Reserves don’t actually offer any form of student loan forgiveness at all. In addition, these repayment programs are often limited in scope, and those that have private student loans may not be eligible for the repayment option at all, as is typical with student loan forgiveness programs.

Getting loan forgiveness is a challenge, but before you sign off on a military commitment, do your research into the loan forgiveness program and ensure it’s one that you’re comfortable with, eligible for and willing to participate in.

Infographic by Victoria Robertson

2. Pick an Occupation with Forgiveness

Believe it or not, there are actually numerous occupations that offer student loan forgiveness. In fact, there are many popular occupations that offer this benefit, and many of the individuals within the profession aren’t even aware that the programs exist.

For example, if you are a teacher, medical doctor or lawyer, there may be student loan forgiveness programs out there that you can participate in. For other professions, it’s worth talking to others in the industry and in your organization itself to see if there are any options out there available for you to take advantage of.

For doctors and lawyers, the loan debt is typically much higher due to the prolonged education required to work in the field. That being said, there are several options that could be available to them in terms of loan forgiveness.

The first program is from the National Institutes of Health, and it forgives medical students debt, depending on their field of research. These fields include clinical, medical disparities and contraception research. These are very specific fields, and those individuals that have already chosen to specialize elsewhere are not eligible for this forgiveness plan option. That being said, for those that are open to switching their fields of study, this is certainly something to consider. So while your career options will be limited, you may be able to relieve some of your medical school debt, which is a win.

In addition, individuals within certain fields of health can receive loan forgiveness through the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program. This program asks students to donate two years of volunteer services at a clinic with a shortage of health professionals. Through this program, students can forgive up to $50,000 in debt, which, at the very least, would cut most debts in half. This program may also allow additional forgiveness for additional service, so this is certainly an option worth looking into.

As for law school graduates, the method of loan forgiveness is relatively easy. In fact, many programs only require some non-profit work. For instance, Equal Justice Works lists schools that offer loan repayment assistance programs, so you can take a look at this when applying to schools. If you are already attending school and see yours is listed, you can contact the financial aid department at your school to learn how to go about getting your loans forgiven. It’s pretty easy and just requires a quick inquiry on your part.

Last, but not least, becoming a full-time teacher can actually offer you an opportunity for student loan forgiveness. I know, this sounds a little too good to be true, and the situation through which this applies is very specific, so many individuals will not actually benefit from this method.

That being said, there are limitations as to which loans can be forgiven. For instance, if you have a Perkins loan, part of this loan can actually be forgiven by simply working full-time in an elementary, middle or junior high school that specifically educates children that are from lower income families. All other loans aren’t eligible for this type of program, so don’t think that any federal or private loan will qualify you for these repayment options, as they most likely will not.

Basically, the more years that you teach, the more of your loan is eligible to be forgiven. Not all schools offer this program, either, so your local school board will be able to provide you the most information as to which districts offer this student loan forgiveness under the National Defense Education Act.

Additionally, as a teacher, there are student loan forgiveness programs that actually allow you to forgive your loans in additional ways. If you’re looking for more ways in which you can get your loan forgiven, reach out to your loan board of education and they will provide you with all the information you need to learn about additional student loan forgiveness programs and options that are available to you.

3. Volunteer Programs

Do you have a bit of a bleeding heart? Or maybe you’re just interested in taking on some new and exciting volunteer opportunities? Or maybe you’re absolutely desperate to get rid of your student loan debt.

Whether one, or all three, of the above scenarios apply to you, there are volunteer programs available that will actually forgive your student debt. I know, this sounds a little too good to be true, right? Well luckily, it’s not.

Based on the amount of time you’re willing to/able to donate to a volunteer effort, you can get a portion of your debt relieved. There are certain organizations that partake in this program, so don’t volunteer just anywhere with the intention of relieving some of that debt, as you may not be able to do so.

One such program is with AmeriCorps, another is with the Peace Corps and the final is with Volunteers in Service to America. With all of these programs, you are eligible to relieve up to 70 percent of your student loans in the forgiveness program.

Again, this will require a bit more research on your end, as these programs have specifications you’ll need to be aware of, but just know these are both options that are available to you should you need them.

Photo Via: Pixabay.com

4. Federal Loan 25-Year Forgiveness

And lastly, and perhaps the most common method of forgiveness and one that’s often forgotten about, there is the federal loan, 25-year forgiveness plan. As the name implies, this forgiveness option is only available for federal loans, as private loans depend on the lender as to the years after which a loan is forgiven (if at all). Be sure to look into your specific loan for more information to that end.

As for those of you that have federal loans, this plan is available to you and well-worth taking advantage of.

The 25-year forgiveness program works for individuals with federal loans that are on an income-based repayment plan. In this way, after 25 years of payments, you can actually have your student loan forgiven (this plan decreases to 10 years if you work in public services).

All federal loans are eligible for this plan unless you have defaulted on your loan, have a Parent PLUS loan or have a Parent PLUS consolidation loan. In these cases, you are not eligible. Through this method, your monthly payments are actually capped based on your income and based on the size of your family. This way, you are making realistic payments to your loan while also not breaking the bank and putting you into further debt.

Applying for these programs requires a physical application to the lender that is servicing your federal loan. They will ask you to provide information such as your annual income (as well as proof of income) and other expenses such as additional loans that are under your name. The application process is relatively easy and painless, and can be done entirely online through your lender’s website.

There is a quick turnaround on application approvals as well, so as soon as you find that you’re ready to apply, you should have a response within a week or so notifying you whether or not your repayment plan has been accepted. In addition, if you are eligible for this plan, your loan payments may decrease monthly, which is a great thing for any individuals that are worried about high monthly payments.

In addition, for those of you that took a loan out after July 22nd of 2014, the forgiveness period decreases from 25 years to 20 years thanks to the Obama administration. They are also seeking to move that date up to 2012, so stay tuned for more information there as well. And as we move forward into new administrations in the future, there may be more opportunities for forgiveness that you will want to pay attention to. Be on the lookout for any legislation regarding loans and loan forgiveness, as it may apply to you!

Again, student loans are a necessity, but that doesn’t make them any less overwhelming. Many students don’t actually know what they are getting themselves into when it comes to their student loans, which can make repayment oftentimes difficult, if not entirely impossible.

So rather than paying high, monthly interest payments after graduation, educate yourself on student loan forgiveness programs that will work for you.

There are plenty of ways out there through which you can get all, or at least part, of your student loans forgiven, so it’s certainly worth exploring those options.

These four options are a good starting place in terms of getting your loans forgiven, but do some research into other methods that you can use to remove those student loans from your name.

An education shouldn’t be a lifetime cost, so get ahead of the problem and educate yourself to beat the cost!

Good luck everyone!

Victoria is a dedicated writer who graduated from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She currently writes freelance pieces for various sites and works in Marketing for Myndbee Inc., promoting their current mobile app, Picpal.

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