While it can take a long time to pay back debt, there is a way to get your balance wiped out all at once: by qualifying for student loan forgiveness. If you work for a certain amount of time in a job with student loan forgiveness options, you could get your student loan balance canceled.
While student loan forgiveness jobs aren’t always the most high-paying, there’s often plenty of opportunity due to a shortage of workers to fill them. And what you might sacrifice in income, you could make back with loan forgiveness after a few years.
But before you can get loan forgiveness, you need to make sure your job qualifies. Here are some that do:
Federal agency employee
Public service worker
Doctor / physician
AmeriCorps, Peace Corps and other qualifying volunteer organization workers
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11 jobs that offer student loan forgiveness
Here’s our list of jobs with student loan forgiveness so you can decide if any would be right for you.
Here’s a little-known fact that applies to federal agencies: If they are having a hard time finding new employees to fill open slots, they are allowed to offer student loan repayment assistance.
To qualify, the new employee must sign a contract to work for the federal agency for a minimum of three years. The agency is allowed to pay up to $10,000 per year per employee for federally insured loans, but the total assistance given cannot exceed $60,000 per person.
If you work in a qualifying organization, such as a government agency or nonprofit, you could qualify for loan forgiveness.
Full-time public service employees with Perkins loans can get full cancellation of their loans, as long as they haven’t consolidated them. Potentially eligible workers include family and child services employees, law enforcement and correctional officers and public defenders.
Public servants with Direct loans (also known as Stafford loans) could pursue loan forgiveness through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program. PSLF is available to any worker in a government organization at any level (federal, state, local, etc.), as well as tax-exempt organizations or for-profit organizations with a qualifying service.
Any debt forgiven through the PSLF program is not considered taxable income, so you won’t have to pay taxes on the forgiven amount. Once your balance is discharged, you shouldn’t have to pay another cent on your student loans.
There are several options for doctors in need of student loan repayment help. The Association of American Medical Colleges maintains a list of loan assistance programs for doctors by state.
Additionally, medical professionals who serve in the military have access to forgiveness programs as well. For example, through the Navy Financial Assistance Program (FAP), medical residents receive an annual grant of $45,000 on top of residency income, which can be put toward medical school debt.
Check out our full guide to student loan repayment for doctors for more options.
In addition to public service forgiveness options targeted specifically at graduates working in law, there are some other sources of loan repayment help that lawyers can take advantage of.
For instance, every spring, the Department of Justice opens up its Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program (ASLRP) to help recruit and retain new talent. Justice Department employees must have at least $10,000 in federal student loans to qualify.
Any automotive aftermarket industry manufacturer who is an employee of the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) can apply for the SEMA Loan Forgiveness Program.
The SEMA program awarded $272,000 to 97 winners in 2019 in scholarships and loan forgiveness. To be eligible to apply for the program, you must have been a SEMA employee for at least a year, hold a degree or certificate of completion from a college or technical school and have graduated with at least a 2.5 GPA.
If you are a registered nurse, an “advanced practice registered nurse” (such as a nurse practitioner) or a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) facility nurse, you may be eligible for student loan repayment assistance through the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program.
The nurses chosen to receive assistance through the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program will get 60% of their qualifying student loan balance forgiven, in exchange for a minimum two-year service commitment. Also, qualifying participants may receive an additional 25% off their original loan balance if they complete a third year of service.
Please note that in this program, the full loan award amount is taxable. The amount you’ll pay in taxes will be far less than the amount of the loans, but it’s still a consideration to bear in mind.
If you would like to review the qualifications and fine print of the program, check out the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment program requirements. And for even more options, head to our full guide to student loan forgiveness for nurses.
If you’re a special education teacher, teach in a low-income school district or work in an underemployed subject area or a teacher shortage area, you may qualify for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program.
If you qualify, you could receive up to $5,000 or $17,500 in loan forgiveness, depending upon what subject matter you teach and your number of years of service. Note that to qualify, your student loan debt must be from federal direct loans or Stafford loans.
If, however, you have federal Perkins student loans, you could be eligible for the Perkins Loan Teacher Cancellation program. Through this program, you could potentially receive cancellation of up to 100% of your Perkins loans. In order to qualify, you need to teach at a low-income school, teach an underemployed subject area or serve as a full-time elementary or secondary school special education teacher.
The cancellation of your student loan debt will come in steps. For the first and second years of teaching, you will receive a 15% cancellation of your loan. For the third and fourth years, you will receive a 20% cancellation of your loan. For the fifth year of teaching, you will receive a 30% cancellation of your loan.
An added bonus is that each amount canceled per year also includes the cancellation of any interest that had accrued through the year.
Did you know that certain volunteer organizations offer student loan forgiveness opportunities? Don’t let high student loan debt deter you from taking the opportunity to help others.
Certain volunteer organizations like the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps and Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) all have student loan awards or repayment options. You can apply for these after you have completed your term of service with the organization.
The terms and conditions on these programs vary, so visit their websites to learn more about student loan programs for volunteers.
Although dentists tend to make a high income — a median of $156,240, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — they also accrue a huge amount of debt before they start working. The American Dental Education Association found that the average dentist with student loans in the Class of 2019 left school owing a whopping $292,169.
Luckily, there are some loan repayment assistance programs, or LRAPs, for dentists, such as the Ohio Dentist Loan Repayment Program and Maryland Dent-Care Loan Assistance Repayment Program. Programs such as these offer significant loan assistance to dentists who work in qualifying areas or workplaces.
Like dentists, pharmacists take on a lot of education debt to earn their degrees. According to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, pharmacists in the Class of 2019 who borrowed student loans took on an average of $172,329 to finance their education.
Here, too, assistance is available: Several national LRAPs provide financial help to health care providers, including pharmacists. Plus, some state programs, such as the California State Loan Repayment Program, will pay back all or a portion of your loans if you establish residency and practice in a qualifying area.
Not only could working with animals be a fulfilling career, but it could also help you get forgiveness for your student loans. The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers $25,000 per year for three years in student loan repayment assistance to vets who work in underserved areas. Programs such as the North Dakota State Veterinarian Loan Repayment Program help veterinarians who agree to work in shortage areas.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 44% of veterinarians in the Class of 2018 left school owing more than $200,000 in student loans, while the average debt for all graduates was $143,111. Any program that offers relief in the form of forgiveness or repayment assistance could be a huge help as you work toward financial independence.
Should you pursue jobs that offer student loan forgiveness?
Most student loan forgiveness jobs have strict requirements, contracts and a minimum term of employment to qualify for loan cancellation. Also, you have to be current on your student loan payments — your loans can’t be in default.
Once you meet the requirements, though, you will receive debt repayment, cancellation or forgiveness. Giving just two or three years of your professional life to a qualifying job may be the answer to your student loan problems.
Every student loan repayment and forgiveness program has its own set of qualifications and eligibility requirements, so make sure that you do your research before pursuing any of these or other loan forgiveness programs.
If you do qualify, these programs could be a life-changing way to rid yourself of burdensome student loans.
Paula Pant contributed to this report.
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1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount.
The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.
To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of Feburary 1, 2021.
2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.49% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.34% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of October 26, 2020, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 10/26/2020. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
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3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.15% effective Jan 1, 2021 and may increase after consummation.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of 5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.
As of 02/17/2021 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.91% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.95% APR – 7.63% Fixed APR with AutoPay.
5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
6 Important Disclosures for PenFed.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed Rates range from 2.99%-5.15% APR and Variable Rates range from 2.17%-4.47% APR. Both Fixed and Variable Rates will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. For Variable Rate student loans, the rate will never exceed 9.00% for 5 year and 8 year loans and 10.00% for 12 and 15 years loans (the maximum allowable for this loan). Minimum variable rate will be 2.00%. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.