There is no magic wand that will make your student loan debt disappear in a single swipe. Unless your college tuition was at Hogwarts, then the only way to get rid of that student loan is to pay it back steadily in the way that millions of Americans do. But there are exceptions and it is possible to have your student loan forgiven.
Student loan forgiveness programs are like government pardons for crimes that no one really cared about and that you’re super remorseful for. It’s a pat on the back and a “Don’t worry about it, we’ve got you”, and it’s something that can take a massive weight off your shoulders.
Who Qualifies for Student Loan Forgiveness?
To take advantage of these programs you need to meet a few criteria. This differs from state to state and program to program, but it typically includes one or more of the following:
- You work in the public sector.
- You work in education.
- You work in health care.
- You are enlisted in the military.
- You have more debt than you can handle.
The Best Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
To see what loan forgiveness programs you are eligible for and how you can apply, keep reading. This is by no means a list of all available programs, but we’ve tried to focus on the ones that will appeal the most to the millions of debtors that fall into the student loan trap every year.
1. Student Loan Forgiveness Program for Teachers
The header says it all, this student loan forgiveness program is only for those who work in education. Teachers do a tough job and yet the lowest ten percent of earners in this profession pickup less than $40,000 a year. That’s a lot of commitment for a little salary, and if you have student loan debts as well then you can be crippled financially.
Fortunately, there are student loan forgiveness programs for teachers that can lend a helping hand. These programs won’t pay off all of your debt, but they can help with as much as $17,500 depending on what age group you teach and whether you work with special needs or not.
What you Need to Know
- You need to be a qualified teacher.
- You need need to work in a qualifying school (see list here) for a minimum of 5 consecutive years.
- Subsidized/unsubsidized Direct Loans and subsidized/unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans are eligible.
- Loans must have been acquired after October 1st 1998 and can’t be in default.
How to Apply
If you meet the criteria then you can apply here.
2. Student Loan Forgiveness for Those in Public Service
If you work in public service then you may be able to apply for this student loan forgiveness program. However, it doesn’t include the whole spectrum of public service jobs so make sure you read the official form linked below.
What you Need to Know
- You need to be a full-time employee.
- You need to have made at least 100 payments.
- Direct subsidized/unsubsidized, PLUS, and Direct Consolidation loans all apply.
- Need to be on a repayment plan.
How to Apply
If you qualify then you need to apply using this official form.
3. Student Loan Forgiveness Program for Nurses
The healthcare sector is one of the fastest rising sectors in the United States and there is scope for organizations and employees to make a lot of money. But those on the bottom rung are often ignored and overlooked, with an average salary that is only $16,000 above the national average. Debts can make life difficult for these hard-working employees, but this student loan forgiveness program can help.
What you Need to Know
- Must be a registered nurse, a nurse practitioner or a faculty member
- Must serve a high-needs population or be a faculty member at an accredited school
- There are also individual state programs offered to nurses, so check with your local authority
How to Apply
Applications to this nationwide program can only be made once a year. If you meet the requirements then you can prepare your application in advance, before submitting prior to the deadline. You can learn more about this forgiveness program here.
4. Student Loan Forgiveness in the Military
The military are very helpful to serving soldiers and there are loan repayment programs across the Army, Navy, Air Force and the National Guard. There are a few different forgiveness programs to apply for and we have listed some of these below. Just follow the links, get more information on whether you are eligible or not, and then apply.
- Army Student Loan Repayment for Active Duty: If you are serving in the army, have been active for at least three years and had a high school diploma at the point you enlisted, then you may qualify.
- Army Reserves Loan Repayment: A repayment program aimed at those in the army reserves.
- Prior Service: If you have military experience then you may be eligible to apply for this financial award.
- National Guard Repayment Program: Members of the National Guard can be awarded as much as $50,000 through this program.
Other Loan Repayments Options for the Military
There are many other programs out there, with options for active and former members of the armed forces. There are also programs available in specific states, and programs aimed at specific types of student loans. This is worth looking into if you have large student debts and are an active or former member of any branch of the armed forces because they tend to offer more forgiveness programs than any other profession.
6. Student Loan Forgiveness Programs for Healthcare Professionals
A qualified, full-time doctor in the United States can expect to make an average of between $156,000 and $315,000 a year. It’s fair to say that they are not struggling, certainly not when compared to other roles in healthcare. But these programs are not just for them and can also be used by dentists, mental health nurses, and anyone else in healthcare.
We have provided some information below, but you can learn more by following the links:
- NHSC: This program offers a loan of $50,000 in exchange for working commitments.
- NIH: This student forgiveness program may be available to you if you work in healthcare research and it can offer a sizable payment on your student loans.
- Active Duty Repayment Program: If you work as a doctor in the army you could get a sizable repayment on your student loans.
- Students to Service: This service offers up to $120,000 if you are in your last year of service.
7. Student Loan Forgiveness Programs for Lawyers
Let’s be honest, no one is going to shed a tear for lawyers in debt. They don’t exactly have the best reputation. But they perform an essential duty nonetheless and many of them are drowning in debt because law school is so expensive.
There are a couple different programs that you can signup for if you are a lawyer with student debt. You should also consult with your local authority as there are programs based in specific states.