If you’re lucky, you’ll graduate from college and be able to find a job that pays well and allows you to pay down your student loans.
However, if you’re in a career that is aligned toward public service, you may not be making the salary that you hoped for early in your career. The good news is that, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, there are careers that provide a pathway toward student loan forgiveness. Here are just five of them:
1. Public Service
A full-time public service job within federal or local government, or at a nonprofit organization that’s designated tax-exempt by the IRS. Even some private nonprofits that are not tax-exempt organizations can qualify if they provide certain public services.
Keep in mind, qualifying for these loans isn’t a matter of working for a non-profit for a few months. You need to make 120 qualifying payments (10 years’ worth) under the Standard, Income-Based, Income-Contingent, or Pay as You Earn repayment plans while working full-time. Once you’ve done that, you may qualify for forgiveness of your remaining student loan balance.
2. Health Care Providers
If you’re a health care professional willing to work in an area where there is a shortage of qualified health care professionals, the National Service Health Corps offers student loan debt relief to health care providers who are willing to practice in an area where they are needed.
Participants need to work at an NHSC-approved site for two years. Those who serve for two years at a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) with a level of 14 or above can receive $50,000 toward their student loans. Those working at a site with an HPSA level of 12 or below can receive $30,000 for two years of service.
Loan forgiveness doesn’t just extend to doctors for humans. If you’re a qualified veterinarian and willing to serve in a high-priority veterinary shortage situation for a specific amount of time, you can be eligible for the USDA Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program. If you qualify, you may be eligible to receive $25,000 per year toward your student loan debt for a 3-year commitment in the shortage area.
Because salaries are limited, educators can be among the hardest hit by student loan debt. The good news is that there are options for educators that can help them reduce their student loan burden.
If you teach full-time for five consecutive years in specific schools serving low-income families, you can be eligible for student loan forgiveness. You must have taken out your loans prior to the end of your five-year teaching service.
For lawyers interested in pursuing a job in a public interest position, there are Loan Repayment Assistance Programs.
These loan assistance plans can include student debt forgiveness or lower payments on the loan. Visit the American Bar Association’s website for more information about these opportunities.
If you are a lawyer and would be willing to serve in public interest or nonprofit positions, you can also contact Equal Justice Works for information on whether or not your school would offer student loan forgiveness.
What to Keep in Mind
Before you dive into any student loan forgiveness program, it’s crucial to understand what you’re really getting into.
Thoroughly research any opportunity before signing up and try to talk to someone who has participated in the program, or find an expert on the requirements who can answer your questions.
Be sure your loans qualify. Many loan forgiveness opportunities only apply to certain types of loans. Also, consider the pros and cons of the position. Know exactly what you’ll be doing, take stock of the sacrifices you may need to make, and of course, know the conditions of the loan forgiveness.
Looking for more help understanding and managing your student loans? Schedule an appointment with one of our student loan counselors today or call us at 800-920-2262.