Scrimp, save, and side hustle: these are standard student loan strategies. But these all rely on you — and your money — to knock down student loan balances.
You can make an even bigger dent in your debt by getting help with student loans. In addition to targeting your student debt with your cash, why not get your student loans paid for by someone else?
From an extra $10 to $10,000, every bit helps, especially when it’s coming out of someone else’s pocket. Here are some original ideas to get free help with student loans.
1. Enter the Student Loan Hero Sweepstakes
Earlier this year, our Student Loan Hero Sweepstakes offered a combined $4,500 to help three people pay off their student loans. That cash helped each winner get closer to $0 in student loans.
Our Student Loan Hero Sweepstakes will be returning soon, so keep an eye out. All you need to do is submit your email address by a certain date to get one entry. Plus, you’ll earn 10 bonus entries for each friend you refer to enter.
2. See if you’re eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness
The federal government is footing the bill for many graduates through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Jobs that qualify for student loan forgiveness under this program include nonprofit employees, federal agency workers, and AmeriCorps members.
This program requires 10 years of on-time student loan payments while working in a position that qualifies for PSLF. You can get on an income-driven repayment plan to minimize monthly costs. After making 120 qualifying student loan payments, the federal government will forgive your remaining debt. Watch out, though ― you might owe taxes on the balance that’s forgiven.
3. Try student loan repayment assistance programs
There are a number of organizations that offer student loan repayment assistance. Some colleges or universities offer loan repayment assistance programs (LRAP). State-sponsored LRAPs offer student loan assistance to attract professionals like physicians or teachers.
The military can be another option for getting assistance in repaying student loans, or you can enroll in a federal income-driven repayment plan and aim for forgiveness after 20 to 25 years of payments.
Take some time to explore LRAPs and you could find one that you’re eligible for.
4. Find an employer with student loan benefits
If you’re lucky, you might find an employer offering work benefits to help you repay student loans.
The most common form of this is matching student loan payments on a monthly or annual basis, up to a certain amount. Some employers may also offer tuition assistance or an education stipend to help you pay for school now. Even a bonus or raise can be applied to your student loans to pay them off faster.
5. Start a crowdfunding campaign
If you want some help getting closer to your goal of being debt-free, you can try asking your social circle to chip in with a crowdfunding campaign.
Sites like GoFundMe and Fundly make it easy to set up a crowdfunding campaign. Theses sites simplify the process of receiving and processing payments, but they also tend to take a cut of the payments received.
If crowdfunding’s not your style, try asking others to replace gifts for your birthday, the holidays, or other life events with cash. Just make it clear that you will put that money toward your student loans — and then follow through.
6. Play a trivia app that gives you a chance at a crowdfunded payoff
Trivia app Givling is putting its earnings to good use to help its users tackle their student loans. You can play Givling once a day for free (additional plays can be bought in-app) and cash prizes are awarded daily to the highest scorers.
But Givling also uses its earnings (made through its pay-to-play option and in-app ads) to actually repay the student debts of 10 users at a time. Sign up for the app for a chance at being one of those 10 users, and having up to $50,000 of your student debt repaid.
7. Earn rewards toward student debt repayment
Gradifi is another tech startup that aims to help people find extra cash to put toward student loans. Register for Gradifi and you can earn and accrue rewards that can be redeemed for a cash contribution toward your student loan balance.
Gradifi users can earn rewards with everyday spending through its branded debit card, which gives 1 percent cash back toward student loans. Or users can make bigger moves to earn larger rewards, like getting $300 for refinancing their with Citizens Bank.
From big moves (like choosing a PSLF-eligible job) to small (like paying with a different debit card), use these ideas to get help with student loans. Make sure you’re taking advantage of every available opportunity to get your student loans paid for, and you could repay your loans months — or even years — faster.
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