If you live in New York, you already know the high cost of, well, just about everything. But if you also studied there, then you have an even bigger battle to fight – paying off New York student loans.
The good news? You’re not alone in this struggle.
Over half of New York’s graduates are in debt, but there are many resources out there that can help them – and you – handle those New York state student loans.
The state of New York student loans
According to data from The Student Loan Report, students in the Empire State owe nearly $20,000 in student loan debt on average – $19,317, to be exact.
Students at private universities may pay even more. For example, 24/7 Wall Street reports that Columbia University graduates’ student debt clocks in at more than $55,000 per year.
Many public universities also have a high percentage of indebted graduates. Current numbers show anywhere from 53 to 89 percent of State University of New York graduates have student loan debt, depending on location.
Despite the above numbers, New York still has less student loan debt than other states. While the top 12 states with the most college debt have a minimum of 66 percent in debt, just 59 percent of New York graduates have student loan debt.
Helpful New York resources available to you
With over half the state’s graduates in debt, there are quite a few New York state student loan forgiveness programs. Just remember: Some forgiven student loan amounts may be subject to taxes – you’ll need to be prepared for that when tax season rolls around.
Now, let’s take a look at your forgiveness and repayment options to help you with your New York student loans.
1. Free tuition
If you’ve already graduated, skip this one. But if you’re in the middle of your education or just getting started, New York now offers free college tuition to eligible students attending State University of New York (SUNY) and City University of New York (CUNY) schools.
The program is called the Excelsior Scholarship, and you can apply for it here. Below are just a few of the eligibility requirements, according to the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation:
- You must be a resident of New York for one year before the start of your first term.
- Your income must be less than $100,000 and you must not be in default on any student loans.
- Students must attend a SUNY or CUNY school full-time as an undergraduate.
- If you’re not attending a SUNY or CUNY school, you must attend community or statutory colleges at Cornell or Alfred University full-time as an undergraduate.
This program is designed to supplement the gap between what you need and what you actually receive from federal grants. Therefore, you must submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) first and include that in your application.
2. Reasonable and affordable repayment plan
Many can already qualify for more affordable federal loan payments through income-driven repayment plans. But New York student loans are also eligible for their own “reasonable and affordable repayment plan.”
This plan is specifically for defaulted student loans. It enables you to partake in loan rehabilitation to get your student loans out of default.
Except, instead of paying the full amount due each month, you would pay an amount that was determined based on your income, family size, and residence or income and expenses. This is a nationwide plan but New Yorkers can find more information here.
3. New York State’s ‘Get on Your Feet’ Loan Forgiveness Program
The “Get on Your Feet” Program was recently announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo. It’s available to anyone with a New York State undergraduate degree and an adjusted gross income of $50,000.
To be eligible, you must already participate in an Income-Based Repayment (IBR) or Pay As You Earn (PAYE) plan and have earned your degree after December 2014.
You can apply for this program year-round. If approved, 24 full monthly payments will be paid towards your student loans. That’s two years of student loan debt relief available to you as you look for work (or better work) and, as they say, get back on your feet. You can apply here.
4. New York State District Attorney and Indigent Legal Services Attorney Loan Forgiveness Program
Now we’re getting to the career-based programs. The first one is specifically for attorneys: The New York State District Attorney and Indigent Legal Services Attorney Loan Forgiveness Program.
You can apply for the program via the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation. Here are several of the requirements, according to their website:
- You must have had your job as District Attorney, Assistant District Attorney, or Indigent Legal Services Attorney for at least four years but no more than nine years.
- Employment must be full-time, which is at least 35 hours per week, and you must be a resident of New York.
- You must not be in default on your student loans.
If selected for this award, you can receive up to $20,400, paid in annual amounts of up to $3,400.
5. New York State Licensed Social Worker Loan Forgiveness Program
If you’re a social worker, you know how it feels to devote yourself to your work while asking for little in return. Luckily, if you also have New York student loans, you can find the help you need via the New York State Licensed Social Worker Loan Forgiveness Program.
The New York State Higher Education Services Corporation outlines eligibility requirements here, but below are just a few you should know about:
- Applicants are ineligible if they have any defaulted student loans.
- They must be a resident of New York state for at least one year and licensed to practice in New York state as a social worker.
- An applicant’s work must be “in a critical human service area” for a minimum of 35 hours each week.
If this sounds like you, you can check to see if the county you work in renders you eligible for the program here.
Recipients of this award receive up to $6,5000 per year for a maximum of $26,000. If your first or last year of the program is less than one year, you’ll receive a prorated disbursement based on the number of hours you worked.
6. New York State Nursing Faculty Loan Forgiveness Incentive Program
Nursing is another line of work that requires a lot of dedication without any expectation of significant financial rewards. But nurses with New York student loans can receive financial assistance, thanks to the New York State Nursing Faculty Loan Forgiveness Incentive Program.
Like many of the other programs listed here, you can find more information via the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation. Here are several of the eligibility requirements mentioned:
- Be a registered nurse with at least a master’s degree in nursing (or a qualified doctoral degree).
- Have a license to practice in New York state and be a New York state resident for one full year.
- Have clinical experience that happened while you were already a licensed registered nurse.
- You must have qualified service, defined as, “employment as a nursing faculty member or as adjunct clinical faculty providing classroom or clinical instruction at a nursing school located in NYS for the equivalent of at least 12 credit hours during an annual period commencing July 1 and ending June 30.”
Nurses receiving this award qualify for up to $40,000, paid annually for up to $8,000.
7. New York State Young Farmers Loan Forgiveness Incentive Program
What about full-time farmers living in New York and paying off student loans? Believe it or not, the state has a program to help you.
The New York State Young Farmers Loan Forgiveness Incentive Program offers New York State student loan forgiveness for farmers who graduated in the past two years.
If that’s you, you must also have operated a New York state farm for one year and be willing to continue to do so for at least five more years.
Those who receive this award can receive up to $50,000, paid out in annual disbursements of up to $10,000.
8. Teach NYC Loan Forgiveness Program
Teaching is a hard job made even harder with the expense of a master’s degree. Luckily, teachers with New York student loans can get help from the Teach NYC Loan Forgiveness Program.
The program is a tax-free grant for the use of student loan repayment. Teach NYC lists many eligibility requirements, but below are some of the high-level requirements you need to know:
- This grant is for new hires in New York City public schools.
- This grant is for teachers and “pedagogic clinicians” in specific understaffed areas.
- You must have the appropriate certifications for your work.
- You must have served 10 months of “satisfactory service” in a designated area of need.
The award is capped at $24,000 and has a disbursement period of six years. You can apply here.
9. The Regents Physician Loan Forgiveness Award Program
There are multiple student loan forgiveness programs for physician assistants, but what about physicians? Physicians with New York state student loans have their very own student loan assistance program: The Regents Physician Loan Forgiveness Award Program.
The New York State Education Department has quite a few requirements, some of which are listed below:
- To qualify, you must be licensed to practice in New York state, as well as a resident.
- You must have completed your residency within five years of the first award being granted.
- If you didn’t receive your residency by then, you must have completed your training in 2016 in either family practice, pediatrics, internal medicine, emergency medicine, or obstetrics.
And if you get the award? Here are a few highlights:
- You can get up to $20,000, disbursed at $10,000 annually.
- The funds should go towards your student loan repayment.
- Available funds depend on the state funds available for this program that year.
- You must practice in a specific area or population for the state during the year(s) you receive the award.
- No matter how much you receive, you must serve for a minimum of two years.
10. New York National Guard
For military members battling student loan debt, there are a variety of military-based federal repayment and forgiveness plans. Many of these plans can be seen on the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation’s “Military Corner.”
However, if you’re a member of the New York National Guard, you have your own student loan repayment program. And it qualifies you for up to $50,000 of student loan repayment assistance.
The annual disbursement is maxed at $7,500 and is set to be the higher of these two: 15 percent of your original loan balance or $500. You can find more information on this program and apply here.
11. Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAPs) from your alma mater
Finally, if you’re not currently eligible for New York State student loan forgiveness, you might qualify for a loan repayment assistance program (LRAP) from your college.
To find out, simply go to your alma mater’s website and search for LRAP programs based on your major. You can also contact your school directly for more information. Check out Albany Law School for an example of what this looks like.
Statute of limitations on New York state student loans
If New York state student loan forgiveness programs don’t have anything to offer you and you’ve already defaulted on your New York student loans, there’s one more thing that might be able to help – the statute of limitations on debt.
Fun fact: There is a statute of limitations on most kinds of debt that prevents debt collectors from being able to successfully sue you for a judgment to collect on “old” debt.
What “old” means varies by debt type and state. And the statute of limitations on debt doesn’t mean debt collectors can stop trying to collect from you. It simply means they can’t sue you for it. Or, more specifically, they can’t sue you for repayment of the debt and win if you show up to court and prove that the statute of limitations has caused your debt to expire.
Otherwise known as “time-barred” debt, you can see what the statute of limitations on your debt is by state using this guide.
The bad news is that federal student loans are exempt from ever being considered time-barred debt. Thus, they aren’t eligible to expire under the statute of limitations on debt. A rule in The Higher Education Act is the reason for this exemption.
However, private student loans aren’t mentioned in this rule. And, as written contracts, they can be considered time-barred debt in New York once they’ve been in default for six years or longer.
Note that the statute of limitations refers to debt that’s in default. Therefore, if you make a payment on your defaulted debt (or agree to do so), you’ll reset the clock on the statute of limitations for your debt.
You have options if you’re struggling with New York student loans
Battling New York state student loans isn’t easy. After all, you could already be dealing with the high cost of your New York school’s tuition or even the high cost of living in New York City.
But that doesn’t mean you don’t have a chance to get ahead. Just remember that you can do the following:
- Contact your state representatives to lobby for changes. You can find a list of them here and here.
- Take advantage of New York state student loan forgiveness programs such as those listed above.
- Learn how to utilize the statute of limitations on debt.
Know your rights, research any and all assistance programs from the state or your alma mater, and stay on top of your student loan situation. You’ll be able to get ahead on your student loans and start spending time on the things you truly care about.
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