What to Know about Student Loan Forgiveness

By Kaitlin Hurtado on July 12, 2019

Depending on where you are in your college journey, you may have different questions regarding student loans. Who exactly are you taking loans from? When do you have to pay them back, and how much do you need to pay back? Which loan is considered the ‘best’ deal? Or better yet, is there any way to get your student loan debt forgiven? The last question regarding student loan forgiveness often comes up after you graduate, when you are out of school and faced with the challenge of paying off your loans. The amount of student loan debt is different for everyone, but it is still a daunting challenge to face both while you are in school and when you are out.

Fear not, however, as there are certain situations that call for student loan forgiveness should you find yourself in them. From volunteering for certain organizations to working in a specific career, here are a few ways that you can have your student loan debt forgiven.

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Volunteer for specific organizations

One way to get student loan forgiveness is to volunteer at certain organizations that offer student loan forgiveness in exchange for a selected amount of time. Well-known organizations include the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps. Depending on the organization, there may be a cap to the amount of student loans that could be forgiven, but for most, some student loan debt erased is better than the original amount.

Each organization will have different policies, so it is important to research your options. For example, for the Peace Corps, federal loans can be deferred, partially canceled, or be adjusted depending on income. However, private loans will rely more on your loan servicer’s policy on loan forgiveness.

Volunteering will not only lead you to student loan forgiveness, but it can provide multiple other opportunities. You get to spend your time doing something meaningful and get to branch out and do work you would not be doing otherwise and also network as you work alongside your fellow volunteers. Volunteering is also a great option if you find yourself feeling “stuck” after graduation when you are faced with the decision on what to pursue next.

Volunteering for student loan forgiveness may not be for everyone, especially if it involves uprooting your life in order to commit time to an organization. If you feel like you need a change of pace or want to commit to something to find meaning in it, volunteering might be the perfect way for you to get some of your student loans forgiven.

Choose a career path that offers student loan forgiveness

There are certain careers that have a better possibility to give you student loan forgiveness, with one of them being a full-time teacher. If you happened to have taken out a Perkins loan, you can get part of your student loan debt forgiven by working full-time in an elementary, middle, or high school that serves children from low-income families. Similar to exchanging your time with volunteer organizations for student loan forgiveness, the more years you teach full-time, the more of your student loans are forgiven.

Reach out to your local school boards to find out more about which specific schools offer student loan forgiveness and how you should go about it.

Joining the military is another well-known career that has student loan repayment options. Not all military branches have options though. The Army, Army National Guard, Air Force, Air Force National Guard, and the Navy offer student loan repayment programs up to $20,000. However, the Coast Guard, Air Force Reserves, and the Marine Corps do not offer student loan forgiveness programs.

If you are pursuing a medical or legal career, student loan debt can quickly pile up. If you work for certain organizations after graduating, you may be able to find student loan forgiveness. For example, The National Institutes of Health forgives a chose amount of student loan debt for medical students who complete certain types of research.

Wait it out

Instead of pursuing specific organizations or careers, you may be able to have your student loan debt forgiven if you wait 25 years when you have a federal loan or you are on an income-based repayment plan (IBR). Federal loans are eligible, excluding Parent PLUS loans and student loans in default.

This option may not seem appealing when you think about spending the next 25 years with student loan debt over your shoulder. However, it may be one of your only options when you are on an IBR plan and are limited in what you can afford to pay back.

Student loan debt can be daunting when you look at the lump sum of your student loan debt or the monthly payments you have to pay, but hopefully, you can find some solace in these options for student loan forgiveness.

By Kaitlin Hurtado

Uloop Writer
Hello! I'm Kaitlin, a fourth year Literary Journalism major at UC Irvine. I'm a writer on Uloop's national team and a campus editor for UCI.

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