After graduating from college, you may be shocked by your amount of student loan debt. There is no denying how fast this debt can grow. Taking a few extra courses outside your major, or switching your major mid-way through your college career might contribute to a high balance.
Unfortunately, you can’t undo the past and hide from your high student loan balance. There are, however, ways to deal with your balance. Depending on where you work, your employer may repay a portion of your student loan debt. I know, this is a big maybe. But this isn’t your only option. By means of government programs for student loan debt forgiveness, repaying your student loan might be easier than you think.
What is Student Loan Debt Forgiveness?
Student loan forgiveness is a repayment program that offers an easy way to eliminate some or all of your student loan balance. For many college students, student loan debt hangs over their heads for decades after graduation. The average college student graduates with at least $20,000 of student debt, and for professional students, this debt can climb well over six-figures. Realistically speaking, you may feel as if you’ll never pay down your balance. And since higher balances result in higher monthly payments, owing a large amount of student debt can financially impact other areas of your life.
A forgiveness program can be the answer to your financial worries – if you qualify. You’ll be happy to know that there’s no shortage of government programs available, although the criteria for these programs are specific.
Government Programs for Student Loan Debt Forgiveness
1. Teacher Loan Forgiveness – If you work full-time as a teacher for a minimum of five years in a low-income area, you may qualify to have a percentage of your Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans and Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans forgiven. Teachers with a Federal Perkins Loan may qualify for loan cancellation (up to 100% of their loan) if they teach in an area with a need for a minimum of one year. Additionally, many states offer loan forgiveness and cancellation programs for teachers.
2. National Health Service Corp. – Offered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, this loan forgiveness program is designed for doctors and registered nurses. To be eligible, these professionals must work in areas that lack adequate medical care or personnel for a certain number of years. In some cases, this may require living in remote or distant regions.
3. Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program – A full-time public service job after graduation may qualify you for student loan forgiveness. To be eligible, you must have a Direct Loan, and you can only apply after you’ve made 120 on-time student loan payments. If approved, the program will forgive your remaining student loan balance.
4. Military College Loan Repayment Program – Enlist in military service after graduation to be eligible for student loan forgiveness. Understand that not all military service qualifies for forgiveness. Additionally, this program may not forgive your entire student loan balance. This program is available to Army, Navy and Air Force active duty, Army and Navy reserves, and Army and Air National Guard.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, as there are many other government programs for student loan debt forgiveness, such as the Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program and the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program.
For more information on forgiveness programs for medical professions, visit the Association of American Medical Colleges’ website. Additionally, the American Bar Association has a list of repayment/forgiveness programs for law school graduates.