You probably look back on your college days fondly. Sure, you were there to earn the degree that got you the job you’re in now, but you managed to get in some fun in between all the studying and essay writing. But then you think about the amount of student loan debt you’ve got piled up, and suddenly you’re not thinking of college that fondly anymore.
If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, sweating with anxiety about the size of your student loans, you’re not alone. According to a report on student debt published in March of 2014 by The Institute for College Access & Success, 71 percent of all students graduating with degrees from four year colleges in 2012 had student debt, with the average debt load being $29,400.
How to get rid of student loans
While you may feel like you’ll be paying off your student loans forever, a number of student loan forgiveness programs exist which you may be able to take advantage of. If you’ve been wondering, “how can I get my student loans forgiven?” this article will give you an idea of the types of student loan debt forgiveness programs out there.
When investigating a student loan forgiveness program, you need to make note of the eligibility criteria, the loans that qualify for forgiveness, and the steps you must undertake in order to apply for a program. Often eligibility criteria can require service in your field for a specified number of years. Each student loan forgiveness program is different, and will have different eligibility and qualifying criteria and steps that must be met.
Federal student loan forgiveness: Obama Student Loan Forgiveness Program
If you have any federal student loans, one of your first steps should be exploring the Obama Student Loan Forgiveness Program. The options which are available for federal student loan forgiveness are the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) plan, which provides student loan forgiveness after 20 or 25 years of payments, the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) plan, which also provides forgiveness after 20 years of making payments, and the Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) plan, which provides forgiveness after 25 years of payments have been made.
Military student loan forgiveness programs
If you are a member of the U.S. military, there are a number of student loan forgiveness plans for which you may be eligible. Many of these are for health professionals serving in the military, such as the Health Professions Loan Repayment Program (HPLRP). There are also loan repayment programs available for those in the National Guard, the Army and the Navy. In addition to looking for programs on your own, a good way to determine what is available is to speak to your recruiter.
Student loan forgiveness programs for health professionals
A number of student loan forgiveness programs are available for professionals in the health field. Often these programs are available in exchange for a specific period of service. For example, the Faculty Loan Repayment Program is available to health professionals from disadvantaged backgrounds who agree to serve on the faculty of an accredited health professions college or university for a two-year period. Another example is the Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program, which is available to those health professionals who commit to two years of full-time practice at an Indian health program site.
There are also a variety of state-specific student loan forgiveness programs available for health professionals. To be eligible for such programs, you have to be both a healthcare professional of the type specified and a resident of the state specified.
Student loan forgiveness programs for other professions and occupations
There are student loan forgiveness programs available for specific professions and occupations, such as teachers, social workers and attorneys, and those working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) occupations. This list of professions and occupations is by no means exhaustive, and further research is recommended. If you have a Perkins loan, and you fall into one of the specified professions, you may be eligible for Perkins Loan Forgiveness programs.
State-specific student loan forgiveness programs
There are also state-specific student loan forgiveness programs for which you may be qualified. These programs are usually related to a specific profession as well as a state; for example, the Health Professions Education Loan Repayment program offers loan repayment for health professionals who are able to work and provide care in California.
Public service loan forgiveness program
If you work in public service, you may be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program. Forgiveness under this program applies to the remaining balances on loans received from the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program after 120 qualifying loan payments have been made while you were employed full-time with a qualifying public service employer.
Faced with what can sometimes feel like a crushing amount of debt, it can be difficult to get a clear perspective on the situation you’re facing. In some cases, a student loan forgiveness program may be a good option for you. To check out specific programs yourself, you can download this helpful ebook from American Student Assistance.
If the prospect of looking into and applying to different student loan forgiveness programs seems daunting, you might want to try a student loan forgiveness service that can help you narrow down your choices and complete and file all the paperwork that’s required to apply for specific programs.