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Many people who are facing the prohibitively expensive weight of debt from college ask whether there’s any way to get the loans wiped out without paying for them.

Student loan forgiveness is real, but you have to meet some quite specific criteria to qualify for it. The loan forgiveness can be on all or part of your loan, and simply means you don’t have to pay it back. Even if you have a good salary, with the average student debts totaling around $29,000, it’s worth seeing if you can get some loan forgiveness.

Not all loans will qualify for forgiveness, so do some advance checking before you take out a loan, and make sure you understand whether there’s an opportunity to have any of the debt written off. Federal loans are more likely to qualify for loan forgiveness schemes than private company loans, so it’s worth taking this into account when you apply for the loan.

Begin Work in Public Services

It stands to reason that if you’re using your college degree to serve the country, some or all of your debt should be forgiven. After all, you’re using your education for the benefit of society, and therefore society owes you.

This is called the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) and it covers those in government jobs and some non-government organizations. You must be in full-time employment with an employer who qualifies, and your loan must be a federal loan.

You’ll still have to make some efforts to pay off your loan; to qualify, you must have made 120 payments toward the loan, while employed by a government entity. It’s a little complicated, so make sure an organization qualifies before you start working for them if you’re interested in this sort of loan forgiveness.

Talk to both the employer and your loan organizer to check that the job does help you qualify for the loan forgiveness, and check if there are any other criteria you need to meet.

Look at Teacher Loan Forgiveness

We all know and appreciate how important teachers are for society, so it’s no surprise they are one of the people eligible for some loan forgiveness. If you’re looking at going into teaching, you should certainly consider this.

The requirements include teaching full-time for five consecutive academic years. Only certain education agencies qualify, so make sure you look into this before starting work. You may have to meet other stipulations, and some types of loans are not eligible for this sort of forgiveness.

In some circumstances, teachers may qualify for up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness; some others may only qualify for $5,000, but this is something to consider if you’re passionate about teaching.

Consider Military Service Forgiveness

Understandably, those in the military are also eligible for some loan forgiveness. They may also be entitled to interest rate caps and other benefits. Depending on the type of military service you undertake, you may be able to get parts of your loan waived or written off.

Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plans

An interesting thing which those with student loans should consider regardless of their chosen profession, the Income-Driven Repayment plan considers how much of your student loans you can pay off each year. This means that if you are in a low-paying job and paying the loan off very slowly, you may be eligible for this type of forgiveness.

Essentially, after a certain number of payments, the remaining balance of your loan will be written off. The plan also helps you ensure your repayments aren’t set too high if your income is very low, looking at things like the size of your family, household income, etc., and setting your repayments accordingly.

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If you’re on low income in any sector, the IDR Plan is definitely worth applying for. It can make it easier to manage your finances and will ensure that if you don’t move into higher-paid work, you don’t spend your whole life attempting to pay off a loan.

However, it’s important to note that loan payments won’t be forgiven for quite a long time, usually upwards of 20 years.

Look at the AmeriCorps Program

Those who complete national service in any approved AmeriCorps program can apply for this type of loan assistance. The programs include the AmeriCorps NCCC, AmeriCorps State and National, and others, so this is worth researching.

It’s a means of paying for current education costs, so it’s a great alternative to taking out large loans and attempting to pay them off later.

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Once you have completed the program, you will receive a certificate that can be used to pay for your education. Make sure that your loans qualify by talking to your student loans provider before starting the program; state agency loans and federal loans qualify, but some others may not.

Summary

Qualifying for student loan forgiveness can make a massive difference for your finances, and it’s important to think about this before you take out any loans. Make sure you talk to your student loan provider about what help is available and what you might be eligible for in your specific career path.

If you’re thinking of going into public services or the military, take out loans that are eligible for some forgiveness, and look at employers which allow you to qualify for this. It’s important to be informed and approach your student loans carefully.

Remember to talk to your loan provider about any issues you’re having and consider the IDR plan if you’re low-income or have lots of dependents.