college students walking through campus

If you’re reading this, you’re probably one of the 43 million Americans who carries student loan debt. Recent graduates have it the worst, with the average student leaving college owing about $35,000, meaning their monthly payment is probably over $350. Instead of paying that amount month after month for 10 years, there are a few opportunities for getting your student loans forgiven (while you’re still alive). Let’s take a look at the best ways for getting rid of your student loan debt without having to pay for it.

Lend a Hand

Volunteer opportunities are a great way for you to positively influence a wide range of communities, peoples and initiatives. While this venture, in and of itself, creates countless tangible and intangible benefits, there are some ways to help the world while simultaneously having your student loans forgiven. AmeriCorps and Peace Corps are prime examples of organizations that set you up with volunteer projects across the United States and the world, respectively. Both of these organizations offer a (modest) living stipend, health benefits and partial loan forgiveness – for specific types of loans after the duration of your service. If you plan on going to the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps for the purpose of loan forgiveness, make sure that your specific type of loan qualifies for forgiveness. You’ll need to continue paying your student loans during the time you serve. You may need to crunch the numbers to see if this path makes sense for you.

Along with these volunteer opportunities, there is also loan forgiveness for the men and women who serve in the military. The Military Student Loan Forgiveness Program provides excellent educational opportunities for those who’ve given back to their country.

Work It Out

There are certain professions that qualify for a 100% discharge of loans made through the Federal Perkins Loans Program, which is a need-based loan program that assists students with college costs. For example, librarians with master’s degrees from Title I-eligible schools, certain attorneys, some staff members of a Head Start program and many more are eligible for this loan forgiveness benefit. Check out the full list here.

Location, Location, Location

There are many loan forgiveness programs that want to attract people – specifically, education and health professionals – to rural or underserved areas. The majority of these programs are coming from the state level, and they offer loan forgiveness for time served. Every program is different, so be sure to look carefully at each state’s specific options before moving across the country to pay for dental school.

Pay As You Earn

While not considered a traditional loan forgiveness plan, the Pay As You Earn program makes you eligible for loan forgiveness after a specific amount of time – 20 years, typically. With this program, your loan payments are capped at 10% of your discretionary income, and after you’ve paid down your loans for 20 years, the remaining balance is forgiven. In order to qualify for this program, you’ll need to prove that you’re experiencing financial struggle. You’ll also be taxed on the amount that’s forgiven.

While there’s never a perfect solution for loan forgiveness, many of these programs offer some great incentives. If you’re in school and looking for financial aid right now, check out the Zing Blog Scholarship. By writing a 700 to 1,200 word article on how to be financially savvy in college, you could receive $2,500 towards your tuition.

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. John and Gerald I agree with you up to point.

    What comment do you have for a single mother who has paid back student loans, in full, for bachelor’s and master’s degrees and for a parent loan for her daughter’s bachelor’s degree? Her daughter has almost finished paying for her own student loans. I’ve also volunteered for non-profits helping to ensure school-age children had daycare after school and to ensure families had affordable housing. Then I applied for a doctorate program, didn’t finish because of promotions and increased workload at my job. However, I used the classwork to receive another master’s. I continue to volunteer for nonprofits. I forgot to mention sometimes I held 2 jobs to make ends meet.

    I’ve have been paying for my student loans for 5 years and have just retired. The amount due is more than I could afford to pay and have had the amount modified to interest only and the amount continues to increase with each payment. I will still have a balance on this loan when I die!

    I feel the loan forgiveness program is a great program as long as students are giving free help to others and they have paid ten years of a 20 year loan. If I could I would be glad if my own loan were eligible for loan forgiveness.

  2. I couldn’t agree more with Gerald (above). I suppose that the next thing will be “college kids go to car dealerships and by new cars and expect ‘loan forgiveness’ since new cars are so expensive”.
    I went to school full time during the day and worked as a mechanic in a bowling center at night. Countless hours of doing calculus and physics calculations in the back room while people were bowling…
    I paid back every dime of my student loans and didn’t receive a dollar in any kind of government assistance. It taught me that “if you want to improve your standard of living, you need to work – sometimes really hard – to get where you want to be”.

  3. Forgiving Student Loans? Really…

    I graduated with $13,500 in student loan debt and no job at graduation. But I managed to find a job, with below average pay and paid every penny of student loans that I signed up for during college; 10 yrs of payments with no forgiveness.

    $35,000 these days is a new car payment and somehow some graduates seem to find money for that. If someone isn’t willing to dig deep to pay off the student loan debt that they knowingly signed up for, maybe they shouldn’t be going to college in the first place. Maybe students should think about going to a community college for the first 2 yrs to keep costs at a minimum and then transfer to a university or 4 yr college for the remaining 2 yrs. Most employers don’t look a where you start your college career, but only look at where you graduated from and with what degree.

    Today’s young people have a strange sense of entitlement that they don’t deserve have worked for. Why should student loans be forgiven a person just because they have a $350 payment for 10 yrs?? There is a clause that allows the person to defer the payments until they find a job and start receiving a regular paycheck.

    When I signed up, it was with the knowledge that this was a loan and was to be repaid, no matter how long it took or how large the payments. When student loans are forgiven, someone has to pay, most banks just don’t write them off as bad debts, and that someone is both You (the reader) and myself.

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