How to Find Grants to Pay Off Your Student Loans

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Paying off your student loans can be overwhelming and frustrating. Plus, having debt can delay pursuing other life goals, like starting a business or getting married.

But one lesser-known way to manage your debt is to look for gift aid. There are many grants for student loans that you can use to repay your balance.

Post-graduation aid for your field of work

While most grants are for individuals still in school, there are some opportunities for people working in particular fields. These grants can help relieve the burden of student loans.

Also, if you leave school with a large loan balance and high monthly payments, grants can give you the breathing room you need to launch your career.

Where to find grants

There are many different sources of grants to pay off student loans. The federal government offers several grant options through various departments, such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

You can also find student loan repayment grants offered by your state. Operated independently from federal programs, states offer grants and incentives to encourage graduates to live and work in fields with staffing shortages, such as in engineering or healthcare.

Some non-profits offer grants to workers in particular fields too. Depending on your career choice, you might find a wide range of options to help you manage your debt.

9 grants to pay off student loans

If you’re seeking grants to pay off student loans and want to get a general idea of what’s out there, see if you fit the criteria for any of the nine sample opportunities below.

1. Contraception and Infertility Research Loan Repayment Program

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers a student loan repayment incentive to encourage people to work in areas of reproductive research. Under the Contraception and Infertility Research Repayment Program, recipients can get up to $35,000 a year to help with student loan repayment.

Awardees must commit to two years of work researching contraception and infertility issues. For more information or to apply, visit the grant website.

2. Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant

If you had a parent who served in the military and died as a result of their service in either Iraq or Afghanistan, you may receive up to $6,095 to use towards your student loans.

To apply via the Federal Student Aid website, you must have been under 24 or enrolled at least part-time in college at the time of your parent’s death.

Also, if you following in your parents’ footsteps into the military, contact your armed forces branch to learn about its own military loan repayment assistance program.

3. John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program

If you are a state public defender or prosecutor, you may be eligible for the John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program. Under this initiative, you could receive $10,000 a year for up to six years to help pay off your student loans.

To apply for the grant, you must agree to work as a public defender or state prosecutor for at least three years. For more information, visit your state agency website to learn about your area’s requirements.

If you’re an attorney, you should also review your eligibility for the Department of Justice Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program, as well as the Herbert S. Garten Loan Repayment Assistance Program.

4. National Institute of Mental Health Loan Repayment Program

If you are a healthcare professional planning to pursue a career in behavioral, social or clinical research with a non-profit organization, you could also receive grants to pay off student loans from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

The award runs as high as $35,000 per year, which you can use to pay off undergraduate, graduate or medical school debt. To apply, visit the NIMH.

5. New York State Young Farmers Loan Forgiveness Incentive Program

In New York, graduates who want to pursue a career in farming can receive up to $10,000 a year for up to five years to pay off their debt. To be eligible, individuals must have received their degree from a New York college or university and agree to operate a farm in New York for at least five years.

To apply, you must submit your application within two years of graduating from school. Both federal and private student loans are eligible.

6. North Dakota Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Student Loan Grant

Cameron Battagler graduated from Valley City State University with $30,000 in student loans. But with the help of student loan repayment grants, he was able to pay off his debt two years ahead of schedule.

“I was able to find about $6,000 in grants after I graduated that helped pay off my debt,” Battagler said. “The money is there, and it often goes unused.”

Because he is a computer programmer, Battagler qualified for North Dakota’s STEM Occupations Loan Forgiveness Program, receiving $1,500 a year to pay off his loans. That money helped knock off months from his repayment term, and he was able to save thousands in interest.

The STEM grant is available to anyone working in a STEM-related career in North Dakota. But that said, a number of other states have similar programs — check the link at the end of this article to investigate options where you live.

7. Nurse Corps Repayment Program

If you are a nurse, you can get up to 85% of your outstanding loans paid off through the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program offered by the Health Resources and Services Administration.

To be eligible, you must be a licensed registered nurse, a nurse practitioner or a nursing faculty member with a nursing degree. Applicants should work in either a healthcare facility with a critical shortage or at an accredited school of nursing.

8. Pennsylvania Primary Care Loan Repayment Program

If you’re a physician or dentist willing to work in underserved areas in Pennsylvania, you can get between $30,000 and $100,000 to use towards your student loans.

To receive Pennsylvania’s healthcare grant, you must make a two-year service commitment.

If you don’t live in Pennsylvania or another state with a similar program, see whether you qualify for loan repayment programs via the Indian Health Service or the National Health Service Corps.

9. The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program

If you’re a veterinarian looking for grants to pay off student loans, look no further than the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Its loan repayment assistance program awards up to $25,000 per year — $75,000 total — in exchange for three years of paid work in an underserved area.

To be eligible, you must have an accredited degree in veterinary medicine and carry at least $15,000 in loan debt.

Do you have to repay grants?

Grants don’t function the same as student loans, and you typically don’t have to repay them.

There may be some grant programs, however, that have stipulations for keeping the award. If you don’t meet all of the requirements, it is possible that you would lose the full grant amount or even have to pay back some of the grant money you’ve already received.

Alternatives to student loan repayment grants

Not all people will be eligible for grants to pay off student loans. Repayment grants are typically limited to certain fields and only offered in particular areas.

But that doesn’t mean you are out of options. If you’re overwhelmed with your student loans, there are still ways to manage your debt.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

If you work for the government or a non-profit but are ineligible for grants to pay off student loans, you may qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). Under PSLF, after 10 years of service and making qualifying payments on your federal student loans, the government forgives the remaining balance.

And unlike other forgiveness options, the discharged balance is not taxable as income, which can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. That said, there are downsides to PSLF you should consider before you set off on this path.

Income-Driven Repayment plans

If you are struggling to keep up with your payments on your current salary and have federal loans, check out Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plans. There are four separate plans:

  • Income-Based Repayment
  • Income-Contingent Repayment
  • Pay As You Earn
  • Revised Pay As You Earn

While each plan differs slightly, the basics are the same: The government extends your repayment term and caps your monthly payment at a percentage of your discretionary income.

Switching to an IDR plan can drastically reduce your monthly payment, making managing your loans much easier. Keep in mind that it’ll also allow interest to accrue over time, increasing the total cost of your loan.

Refinancing

If PSLF and IDR plans are not an option, another path to consider is refinancing your debt. With refinancing, you take out a new loan for your student debt balance with new terms. You can secure a different repayment term, a lower interest rate or a smaller monthly payment.

By refinancing, you can save money over the length of your repayment and have more room in your budget. Use a student loan refinancing calculator to see what kind of savings you can net from refinancing, and make sure you’re aware of the drawbacks to refinancing as well.

Managing your student loans

There are many different grants to pay off student loans which can lighten your debt load. See if your field or state offers any grants to professionals repaying loans.

For additional sources of help, check out our list of 120 loan repayment assistance programs.

Andrew Pentis contributed to this report.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 8 lenders of 2019!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

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 3.20% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.99% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.89% 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 December 13, 2019, 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 12/13/2019. 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 hello@earnest.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.

© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.


2 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student loan Refinance: Fixed rates from 3.46% APR (with AutoPay) to 7.61% APR (without AutoPay). Variable rates currently from 2.31% APR (with AutoPay) to 7.61% (without AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.31% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 2.31% plus 0.75% margin minus 0.25% for AutoPay. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your credit history and the term of the loan and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

3 Important Disclosures for Figure.

Figure Disclosures

Figure’s Student Refinance Loan is a private loan. If you refinance federal loans, you forfeit certain flexible repayment options associated with those loans. If you expect to incur financial hardship that would impact your ability to repay, you should consider federal consolidation alternatives.


4 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Mortgage lending is not offered in Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.

ANNUAL PERCENTAGE RATE (“APR”)
This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.

FEE INFORMATION

There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties associated with the loan. Lender may assess a late fee if any part of a payment is not received within 15 days of the payment due date. Any late fee assessed shall not exceed 5% of the late payment or $28, whichever is less. A borrower may be charged $20 for any payment (including a check or an electronic payment) that is returned unpaid due to non-sufficient funds (NSF) or a closed account.

LOAN AMOUNT

For bachelor’s degrees and higher, up to 100% of outstanding private and federal student loans (minimum $5,000) are eligible for refinancing. If you are refinancing greater than $300,000 in student loan debt, Lender may refinance the loans into 2 or more new loans.
For eligible Associates degrees in the healthcare field (see Eligibility & Eligible Loans section below), Lender will refinance up to $50,000 in loans for non-ParentPlus refinance loans. Note, parents who are refinancing loans taken out on behalf of a child who has obtained an associates degrees in an eligible healthcare field are not subject to the $50,000 loan maximum, refer to https://www.laurelroad.com/refinance-student-loans/refinance-parent-plus-loans/ for more information about refinancing ParentPlus loans.

ELIGIBILITY & ELIGIBLE LOANS

Borrower, and Co-signer if applicable, must be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident with a valid I-551 card (which must show a minimum of 10 years between “Resident Since” date and “Card Expires” date or has no expiration date); state that they are of at least borrowing age in the state of residence at the time of application; and meet Lender underwriting criteria (including, for example, employment, debt-to-income, disposable income, and credit history requirements).

Graduates may refinance any unsubsidized or subsidized Federal or private student loan that was used exclusively for qualified higher education expenses (as defined in 26 USC Section 221) at an accredited U.S. undergraduate or graduate school. Any federal loans refinanced with Lender are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment.

All loans must be in grace or repayment status and cannot be in default. Borrower must have graduated or be enrolled in good standing in the final term preceding graduation from an accredited Title IV U.S. school and must be employed, or have an eligible offer of employment. Parents looking to refinance loans taken out on behalf of a child should refer to https://www.laurelroad.com/refinance-student-loans/refinance-parent-plus-loans/ for applicable terms and conditions.

For Associates Degrees: Only associates degrees earned in one of the following are eligible for refinancing: Cardiovascular Technologist (CVT); Dental Hygiene; Diagnostic Medical Sonography; EMT/Paramedics; Nuclear Technician; Nursing; Occupational Therapy Assistant; Pharmacy Technician; Physical Therapy Assistant; Radiation Therapy; Radiologic/MRI Technologist; Respiratory Therapy; or Surgical Technologist. To refinance an Associates degree, a borrower must also either be currently enrolled and in the final term of an associate degree program at a Title IV eligible school with an offer of employment in the same field in which they will receive an eligible associate degree OR have graduated from a school that is Title IV eligible with an eligible associate and have been employed, for a minimum of 12 months, in the same field of study of the associate degree earned.

INTEREST RATES

The interest rate you are offered will depend on your credit profile, income, and total debt payments as well as your choice of fixed or variable and choice of term. For applicants who are currently medical or dental residents, your rate offer may also vary depending on whether you have secured employment for after residency.

DISBURSEMENT OPTIONS

The repayment of any refinanced student loan will commence (1) immediately after disbursement by us, or (2) after any grace or in-school deferment period, existing prior to refinancing and/or consolidation with us, has expired.

POSTPONING OR REDUCING PAYMENTS

After loan disbursement, if a borrower documents a qualifying economic hardship, we may agree in our discretion to allow for full or partial forbearance of payments for one or more 3-month time periods (not to exceed 12 months in the aggregate during the term of your loan), provided that we receive acceptable documentation (including updating documentation) of the nature and expected duration of the borrower’s economic hardship.

We may agree under certain circumstances to allow a borrower to make $100/month payments for a period of time immediately after loan disbursement if the borrower is employed full-time as an intern, resident, or similar postgraduate trainee at the time of loan disbursement. These payments may not be enough to cover all of the interest that accrues on the loan. Unpaid accrued interest will be added to your loan and monthly payments of principal and interest will begin when the post-graduate training program ends.

We may agree under certain circumstances to allow postponement (deferral) of monthly payments of principal and interest for a period of time immediately following loan disbursement (not to exceed 6 months after the borrower’s graduation with an eligible degree), if the borrower is an eligible student in the borrower’s final term at the time of loan disbursement or graduated less than 6 months before loan disbursement, and has accepted an offer of (or has already begun) full-time employment.

If Lender agrees (in its sole discretion) to postpone or reduce any monthly payment(s) for a period of time, interest on the loan will continue to accrue for each day principal is owed. Although the borrower might not be required to make payments during such a period, the borrower may continue to make payments during such a period. Making payments, or paying some of the interest, will reduce the total amount that will be required to be paid over the life of the loan. Interest not paid during any period when Lender has agreed to postpone or reduce any monthly payment will be added to the principal balance through capitalization (compounding) at the end of such a period, one month before the borrower is required to resume making regular monthly payments.

KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.

This information is current as of November 8, 2019 and is subject to change.


5 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.


6 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). 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 1.76% effective November 10, 2019.


7 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

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 12/07/2019 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.90% to 8.59% Variable APR with AutoPay and 3.49% to 7.75% Fixed APR with AutoPay.


8 Important Disclosures for College Ave.

College Ave Disclosures

College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.

1College Ave Refi Education loans are not currently available to residents of Maine.

2All rates shown include autopay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.

3$5,000 is the minimum requirement to refinance. The maximum loan amount is $300,000 for those with medical, dental, pharmacy or veterinary doctorate degrees, and $150,000 for all other undergraduate or graduate degrees.

4This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a refi borrower with a Full Principal & Interest Repayment and a 10-year repayment term, has a $40,000 loan and a 5.5% Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $434.11 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $52,092.61. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.

Information advertised valid as of 12/1/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.

1.99% – 6.89%1Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Earnest

2.31% – 7.36%2Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit SoFi

1.99% – 6.75%3Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Figure

1.99% – 6.65%4Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Laurel Road

2.43% – 7.60%5Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Splash

1.85% – 6.13%6Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit CommonBond

1.90% – 8.59%7Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Lendkey

2.74% – 6.25%8Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit College Ave

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

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