Are you one of many college graduates who walked away with a diploma and a mountain of student loan debt? If so, you’re not alone. Nearly 3 in 4 college graduates have student loan debt with an average balance of nearly $30,000. Ouch!
Student loans can’t be dismissed in a bankruptcy, so if you don’t make your payments, you’ll face serious consequences. Too often, college graduates find making student loan payments are a heavy financial burden.
However, for a lucky group of individuals, there is a way to lighten the student loan debt load–grants that pay part or all of your student loans.
Do you qualify?
The U.S. government highlights two such programs:
Public Service Loan Forgiveness
If you make 120 on-time payments and are employed during that time at a qualified public service job (think any employment with a federal, state or local government agency, including teaching), you can apply to have the rest of your student loan debt forgiven.
Keep in mind, you will need to make 10 years of payments on your own before you can receive loan forgiveness. You also need to fill out an application before you begin making payments so both you and the government can track your progress. For more information, go here.
Stafford Loan Forgiveness for Teachers
If you are an elementary or secondary teacher and have taught full-time for five years and have made your student loan payments on time, you may qualify for this program. Forgiveness amounts range from $5,000 to $17,500 (with the higher amounts going to highly qualified math, science, and special education teachers).
The nice part of this program is that you only need to make 5 years of payments before applying for loan forgiveness. You can go here to learn more.
In addition to these two programs, there are many other programs available based on your career choice.
For instance, licensed primary medical, dental, and mental behavioral health providers are eligible for up to $50,000 in student loan repayment grants if they practice for two years in designated areas. (Get more information here.)
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) offers up to $35,000 in student loan repayment for individuals who work two years or longer in qualified research positions. (More details can be found here.)
The problem with many of these student loan repayment programs is that graduates don’t know about them. Taking one afternoon this weekend to research possible student loan repayment grants is a worthwhile use of your time, especially if it saves you thousands of dollars in student loan programs.
Have you looked to see if you qualify for any student loan repayment plans?