Most of us are not fortunate enough to be able to pay for our education outright. If we are lucky, we can obtain a few scholarships to help offset some of the costs, but most graduates leave college saddled with student loan debt. For some recent grads, this means a frighteningly large amount of debt before they have even begun to start to establish themselves.
The six-month limit that most get before student loan payments are due is barely enough time to get a job. With the economy as unstable and unpredictable as it has been, the job market is highly competitive and there are more skilled and qualified people than ever before vying for the same few jobs.
This leads some to taking some job—any job—so as to be able to manage this burdensome debt. However, what many people don’t know is that there are a number of programs that allow for these people to have a certain amount of their student loan debt forgiven. This can dramatically reduce the overall amount owed, while also allowing the graduate to pursue a job that helps the greater community.
There are a number of ways that people can have a portion of their student loan debt forgiven through work or other forms of service. What follows are some of the best ways to considerably reduce your student loan burden, whether fresh out of school or just looking for a way to reduce debt.
1. Public Service Loan Forgiveness Programs
The Public Student Loan Forgiveness program is one of the better-known programs that allows graduates to have a portion of their student loan debt forgiven. As the name of the program implies, to qualify, one must work full-time in an eligible public service job. In addition to this, one needs to have made 120 payments on said loans during this time as well. President Obama created this program in 2007. Click here for more information.
2. Disability Discharge
This is not something that anyone hopes or wishes for, but sometimes, the unthinkable does happen. To be disabled, and thus on an incredibly limited income, while also being swamped with student loan debt is a very scary feeling. Those who have been permanently disabled for five years, and are expected to be for at least the next five, may meet the eligibility requirements to have their loans reduced or discharged (completely forgiven).
3. Volunteering with Participating Organizations
Certain organizations, work with graduates by helping to pay off their student loan debt while they give their time and service to the community via volunteering endeavors.
4. Teacher Loan Forgiveness Programs
In many areas, particularly in inner cities, graduates can qualify to have a portion of their student loans forgiven if they sign on to teach at a participating public school for a certain number of years. This allows the graduate to gain invaluable experience, while also reducing their debt load.
5. Health Care Loan Forgiveness Programs
Similar programs to the teaching forgiveness programs exist nurses, doctors, and other health care professionals who sign on to work a specified period of time in public clinics or other facilities that are desperately in need of quality workers.
6. Perkins Loan Cancellation
Those who are employed in a number of qualifying professions, that took out Perkins loans while in school, can qualify for full or partial loan cancellation or discharge. In addition to working for an eligible profession, one must also have been in this position for at least five years to qualify.
Having an education is a wonderful and empowering accomplishment. However, for many of us, this accomplishment has a dark side in the form of the student loan debt we are faced with almost immediately upon graduation. College is expensive and that trend doesn’t seem like it’s going to change any time soon. The amount of debt some graduates leave school with is downright staggering. It’s no wonder that many people feel trapped and enslaved by these debts.
There are, however, a number of programs or other means by which one can have some or all of their student loan debt forgiven or discharged. A few years of public service, volunteer work, working in the health or education field, or being permanently disabled are just a few of the ways that one can have some or all of these debts forgiven. Eligibility for these programs does vary, but many people qualify for these programs and fail to make use of them, all the while struggling to manage their debt burdens. A little research and a little work for the good of the community can literally save you thousands of dollars and years of debt repayment.