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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