Do you feel like you’re going to be stuck paying off student loans for the rest of your life? It doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a few ways you could get some or all of your federal student loans forgiven:
Enlist in the military.
I know, I know. Most people aren’t too keen on the idea of risking their lives to get out of debt… but there are many non-combat positions available for engineers, scientists, IT specialists, lawyers, medical staff, musicians, line cooks, clerical staff, etc. In exchange for your service, the Army or Navy may pay up to $65,000 in qualifying student loans. For more information on student loan repayment and other military benefits, click here.
Volunteer with the Peace Corps.
If the military really isn’t your thing, consider volunteering with the Peace Corps instead. The Peace Corps is a volunteer program which seeks to promote peace and bridge the gap between the US and other nations around the world. Although the Peace Corps does not offer loan repayment, volunteers may be eligible for deferment during service as well as a partial cancellation of Perkins loans.
AmeriCorps is a federal program which engages members intensive community service work in education, environmentalism, public safety, homeland security, and other areas. After successfully completing a term of service, AmeriCorps members may be eligible for the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award worth up to $5,550 in student loan repayment. For more information on eligibility and limitations of the award, click here.
Work in a public service profession.
If you work full-time in a public service profession (such as education, public health services, public safety, services for people with disabilities, etc.), you may be eligible for forgiveness of Direct Loans after making 120 regular payments. Not sure if your job qualifies? Find out more information here.
Teach in a low-income/high-needs school district.
In addition to being eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program described above, teachers may be entitled to as much as $17,500 in student loan forgiveness for teaching in a low-income school district for at least five years.
In addition to the options above, federal student loans can be discharged if you become permanently disabled or die. (Obviously, you don’t want either of those things to happen… but it’s still good to know.) Private lenders, on the other hand, are much less understanding in such circumstances – as evidenced by stories like this one or this one.