As the cost of a college education continues to rise, student loans become both more necessary and more burdensome. Over the last 30 years, the cost of education has increased 300%. During the same period, the U.S. median household income increased just 21%. On average, a graduate with a bachelor’s degree will take 21 years to repay their student loans — and the repayment period is even longer for those holding advanced degrees.
If you’d like some help getting rid of your own student debt, consider taking part in one of these student loan forgiveness programs.
Teacher loan forgiveness
The U.S Department of Education wants to encourage people to become teachers in schools serving low-income families, and it’s willing to reimburse such teachers by forgiving some or all of their student loans. If you are a full-time teacher for five consecutive years at an eligible school, you can get up to $17,500 worth of federal student loans forgiven. And unlike some student loan forgiveness programs, you won’t be required to pay income tax on the canceled debt, which could save you four or five figures in taxes.
Public service loan forgiveness
If you work for a government organization or not-for-profit company, the U.S. Department of Education may be able to assist you by canceling some or all of your student loans. The qualifications are manageable. You must work full-time for a qualifying organization and make at least 120 monthly payments on your federal student loans. Here’s how the mechanics work. After the 120th payment, assuming you continue to meet all the requirements, the U.S. Department of Education will forgive any remaining balance on your federal loans. As with the teacher loan forgiveness program mentioned above, the canceled debt is tax-free.
AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps both have loan forgiveness programs to assist their volunteers. If you serve in AmeriCorps for at least 12 months, you can receive up to $7,400 in stipends and $4,725 to repay your federal student loans. In addition, the Peace Corps will allow you to defer your federal student loans and cancel up to 70% of your Perkins Loans. It is important to consider that the debt these programs forgive will be considered taxable income, so although they may save you thousands, you’ll still be responsible for the resulting tax bill.
Become a legal aid attorney
If you thought undergrad college is expensive, just take a look at the price of law school. Recently graduated lawyers can carry enormous student loan debts of $150,000 or more. However, 24 different states have loan repayment programs to help lawyers performing public service work in various fields.
If you are a lawyer and happen to live in one of those states, consider becoming a public defender or joining the district attorney’s office for a few years to help get your student loan debt under control. It is important to keep in mind that you’ll likely have to pay income tax on the canceled debt – check with the program sponsor for your state to confirm.
Move to a rural area
Some parts of the country, particularly rural areas, are in need of new residents. The drive to address this need is significant. Some jurisdictions will reimburse people for relocating there – often through student loan repayment programs.
For example, Kansas has 77 counties that qualify as Rural Opportunity Zones. If you have a college degree and move to one of those counties, you can get up to $15,000 worth of student loans repaid by the county. As a bonus, you also get your Kansas state income tax waived for up to five years. Other states with excellent student loan forgiveness programs include California (for qualified health professionals serving in rural parts of the state), Alaska (also for health professionals, including pharmacists, nurses, dentists, and more), and North Dakota (for veterinarians in high-need areas). Any state-level student debt repayment program designed to increase healthcare availability will likely offer tax-free debt cancellation for the borrower. However, non-medical programs, such as the Kansas program, will not spare you the income tax bill.
Serve in the Army
Not only does military service typically count toward the public service loan forgiveness program, but the Army also has a few student loan forgiveness programs of its own. Those loan holders that serve for three years are eligible to have $65,000 worth of student loans forgiven. Lawyers can get the same deal by serving for three years in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps. Even certain civilian employees qualify for student loan forgiveness. Most of these loan repayments are considered taxable income for the borrower.
If you’re struggling to fulfill the payment plan for your student loans and don’t qualify for any of the student loan forgiveness options, you have other options. You might request a forbearance. This allows you to temporarily suspend your student loan payments. This may enable you to resolve some of your financial challenges. You’ll still be required to pay the interest, but that’s typically a smaller amount.
The $16,122 Social Security bonus most retirees completely overlook
If you’re like most Americans, you’re a few years (or more) behind on your retirement savings. But a handful of little-known “Social Security secrets” could help ensure a boost in your retirement income. For example: one easy trick could pay you as much as $16,122 more… each year! Once you learn how to maximize the Social Security benefits, it could help you retire confidently and with the peace of mind we’re all after. Simply click here to discover how to learn more about these strategies.