If you’re a librarian, you’re used to people coming to you for information and resources.
But when it comes to discharging student loans, you might be the one left with questions. You could be wondering whether loan forgiveness is even legit, for example.
Here are a few paths to student loan forgiveness for librarians.
Student loan forgiveness for librarians: Are you eligible?
If your librarian degree put you in the red financially, you’re not alone. Master’s of science graduates left school with an average $50,400 in debt, according to our 2017 student debt statistics.
Combine that with the fact that the average librarian pulls in an annual salary of $51,155, according to PayScale, and it’s no wonder you might be looking for student loan forgiveness for librarians.
The bad news is that only your federal loans are eligible for forgiveness. You might try other options to deal with private loans, such as talking to your lender and learning about refinancing.
2 ways to achieve loan forgiveness for librarians
The better news is that there are two governmental programs to help get your federal loans forgiven. They work whether you’re a librarian or have one of the other great jobs offering loan forgiveness.
Here are the two programs and how you might qualify for them.
1. Perkins Loan cancellation and discharge
Thanks to the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, librarians were added to a list of eligible professionals for Federal Perkins Loan forgiveness.
Although the Perkins Loan program expired, anyone who took out a Perkins Loan before Sept. 30, 2017, would be eligible. You could have as much as 100 percent of your debt canceled over a four-to-five-year period.
Here’s how the gradual payout would work:
|1||15 percent, plus interest|
|2||15 percent, plus interest|
|3||20 percent, plus interest|
|4||20 percent, plus interest|
|5||30 percent, plus interest|
Achieving total loan forgiveness — that is, erasing 100 percent of your remaining debt, including interest — would take five years through this federal program.
Eligibility: Being a librarian isn’t enough. To qualify, your librarian degree must have been earned at the master’s level. You also have to work for a Title I school or a public library serving Title I schools.
Requirements: Having a year of professional experience under your belt is the first requirement. Your work as a librarian before August 2008 won’t be included for consideration. You must also make timely loan payments as long as you have a balance.
Application: You request loan forgiveness annually, using a form provided by your school (or your school’s servicer). On the form, you’ll be asked to state your job type and include a certification from your employer.
If you’re a newer graduate and short of the professional experience requirement, you could apply for a precancellation deferment. This would halt your monthly payments until you can start claiming forgiveness.
2. Public Service Loan Forgiveness
Established in 2007, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program started accepting applications in 2017. This is because you must make timely payments on your Direct Loans for 10 years (or 120 months) to apply to have your remaining balance wiped away.
You must also have made those payments under a qualifying income-driven repayment plan, which could be:
- Income-Based Repayment (IBR)
- Pay As You Earn (PAYE)
- Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)
- Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)
You wouldn’t benefit from PSLF using the standard repayment plan you were assigned after leaving school. That’s because the standard plan calls for your loans to be repaid in 10 years, which would leave a zero balance by the time you’d be eligible for forgiveness.
Income-driven repayment plans, on the other hand, allow you to make smaller payments over a longer period. They would cost you additional interest, unless you qualify for PSLF and avoid having to pay off the balance.
Although PSLF might not last forever, you remain eligible to participate even if you’re a current borrower. Here’s what else to know about the finer details of this type of student loan forgiveness for librarians.
Eligibility: Beyond being a librarian (or archivist), you must be working full time for a public school, a nonprofit private school, or a public or nonprofit organization. You can verify your eligibility by filling out the PSLF employment certification form.
Requirements: Only Direct Loans are eligible for PSLF. You could opt to group your other federal loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan. But be advised that you would reset the clock on your 120 monthly payments going forward.
All payments must be made during your tenure as a librarian. You must also maintain your employment while applying for and accepting loan forgiveness.
Application: In addition to filing an employment certification form to account for each of your 10 years of experience in the field, you must complete the PSLF application. As it’s being considered, your loans will enter forbearance. You’ll receive your application results in writing.
Other ways to find help paying off your librarian degree
Aside from loan forgiveness for librarians, the federal government also discharges debt in extreme circumstances. Regardless of your profession, your debt could be wiped away for one of these reasons:
- Your school closed before you could complete your degree.
- You enter bankruptcy, and the court rules you shouldn’t have to pay off your loans, which is rare.
- You suffer from a total and permanent disability.
You could also explore loan forgiveness for librarians offered by your state. Many programs catering to educators are specific to teachers, but there are exceptions. The Educators for Maine Program, for example, offers forgiveness to librarian-media specialists working in the state. It includes a year of forgiveness for each year of service.
Research your state’s offerings via our list of over 120 loan repayment assistance programs. If your state’s program is unclear about its eligibility requirements for school employees, for example, don’t leave the stone unturned. Ask if you might be eligible to receive help paying off your librarian degree.
Be just as inquisitive about your federal loans. If you have Perkins Loans or Direct Loans and are looking into forgiveness, you could be in luck. But the government’s requirements for wiping away some or all of your debt can be stiff. They can also take years to qualify for.
Still, if you start today, you’ll be that much closer to ending your debt and getting back to the books.
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