Student Loan Forgiveness

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Student Loan Forgiveness

Once you have graduated in May, start counting the days until November when you need to begin paying back your student loans. However, it is possible to have some or all of your student loans forgiven. It will usually involve trading your time in a variety of different ways.

To qualify, you probably will be involved in volunteer work, serve in the military, teach in a designated secondary or elementary school for low-income or special education students or other "teacher shortage areas", and meet other various requirements.

Peace Corps

While volunteering for the Peace Corps graduates may be able to defer payment on their Stafford, Perkins, direct and consolidation loans. Also, they can receive forgiveness for their Perkins Loans. For each of the first two years of Peace Corps service, 15% can be canceled. Then, for each of the next two years, 20% can be canceled for a total of 70% for a four year commitment.


VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), is a private non-profit group dedicated to the eradication of poverty in the United States. A one year commitment to VISTA will allow you a $4,725 education award toward forgiving your student loan. Your student loans may be placed in deferment or forbearance while you are serving.

Military Service Loan Forgiveness

The Army National Guard has a program called Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) which will provide for forgiveness of up to $20,000 in student loans. It's available to those who have existing student loans when enlisting or those who get the loans after joining. This program is in addition to the Montgomery G.I. Bill benefits and tuition assistance program. The downside to this is there is a six year commitment.

Another military loan forgiveness program is the Military College Loan Repayment Program (CLRP). The Army, Navy, Air Force and the Air National Guard all participate.

If the military isn't for you, and you don't really want to be a volunteer for years just to get rid of your loans, there are a few other options available.

Teaching for your Forgiveness

Student loan forgiveness for either Perkins Loans or Stafford Loans can be achieved through full-time teaching positions at a low-income school as designated by the U.S. Department of Education or teaching in certain subject areas such as special education, mathematics, science, foreign languages and bilingual education. The chief administrator of the qualified school at which you taught will have to verify your participation and completion. Depending on your qualifications, you could earn forgiveness of from $5,000 to as much as $17,500 in loans.

Health Care Professionals

Certain health care professionals can also have their payments deferred or totally forgiven with participation in the Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program. The NELRP will repay 60 percent of the qualifying loan balance of licensed registered nurses (RNs), advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) or nursing faculty members with qualifying debt who are selected for funding in exchange for 2 years of service at a Critical Shortage Facility (CSF). Those selected may be allowed to work a third year and receive repayment for an additional 25 percent of their qualifying loan balance. Only about 15% of the total number of applicants were selected to participate in the program for the last two years. Check all the requirements at Nurse Corp Loan Repayment Program page.

The National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program provides for up to $50,000 in forgiveness for qualifying educational loans in exchange for two years service in a underserved communities. If you still have qualifying debt, you may be able to extend beyond the initial two years. You must be practicing in one of the following disciplines to qualify:

  • Primary Care Physician (MD or DO)
  • Dentist (DDS or DMD)
  • Primary Care Certified Nurse Practitioner (NP)
  • Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM)
  • Primary Care Physician Assistant (PA)
  • Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH)
  • Health Service Psychologist (HSP)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
  • Psychiatric Nurse Specialist (PNS)
  • Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT)
  • Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)

There are other, less common ways to become eligible for partial or total student loan discharge. For example, if the school happened to close within 90 days of your enrollment and you were unable to finish your course(s), you may be eligible for a partial discharge of your loan, dependent on the amount of your expenses. If you did not receive an expected refund, you may be eligible for forgiveness of the amount of that refund. If your signature was forged on your loan agreements, your loan can be forgiven. If you die or find yourself temporarily or permanently disabled, you may receive student loan cancellation.

If you are thinking about a student consolidation loan, check first because by consolidating, you may lose the opportunity to have certain loans forgiven.

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