Are you loving life in the Hoosier state, with its sugar cream pie and epic IU-Purdue rivalry, but being dragged down by your student loans? There could be help for you.
The Institute for College Access and Success reported that 59 percent of Indiana students in the Class of 2016 graduated with student loan debt. And the average debt load was more than $29,000 — maybe not as much as some of the most expensive Northeastern states, but definitely above the national average.
Luckily, its residents working in the fields of law or mental health could see a reprieve, and there are also possibilities for those in other occupations. Here’s how to get student loan forgiveness in Indiana.
Getting student loan forgiveness in Indiana
It’s true that not all Indiana residents will be eligible for student loan forgiveness from the state. However, if your line of work isn’t on this list, you might be able to turn to federal student loan forgiveness programs for help.
With that said, here’s what’s available from the state.
Loan Repayment Assistance Program for Mental Health and Addiction Professionals
The Family and Social Services Administration has a program to grow the state’s mental health and addiction workforce. This program offers student loan forgiveness in Indiana to a variety of professionals in the field, including counselors, nurses, psychiatrists, and more.
Those eligible can receive repayment assistance of up to 25 percent of their total student loan debt. However, the amount cannot exceed $25,000 a year, and the program doesn’t extend beyond four years. The only professional this rule doesn’t apply to is an addiction psychiatrist, who can earn repayment assistance for five years.
Eligible recipients must also be licensed and residents of Indiana to qualify. They must have graduated no more than three years ago and have new employment or a promotion as a result of their recent education. Finally, they must be in good standing on their loans and be employed full-time.
As of right now, funding has not yet been secured for 2018. However, interested Indiana residents can visit this website to check for updates.
The Richard M. Givan LRAP
Lawyers living anywhere in the U.S. might hesitate to take work in legal aid offices, since the salary might not cover their living expenses and student loan payments. But Indiana lawyers facing this situation can get help.
The Richard M. Givan LRAP offers student loan forgiveness to lawyers working in eligible legal aid organizations. This program exists to help those who wouldn’t be able to afford to take on the work otherwise, since student loan repayment takes up a large chunk of their income.
Legal aid lawyers can be eligible as long as their income doesn’t exceed $70,000. They must also be licensed to practice in Indiana and actively participate as a member of the Indiana Bar Association.
The maximum annual award is $5,000, though you can apply every year as long as you have student debt remaining. Funding for the program is based on the performance of the Indiana Bar Foundation’s endowment. The total amount for 2018 is estimated to be $18,000.
Law school-sponsored student loan assistance
The Richard M. Givan LRAP isn’t the only way lawyers can receive student loan repayment assistance. They can also turn to their alma mater to see if there are programs to help.
For example, Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law has its own student loan repayment assistance program. Alumni can qualify six months after they graduate if they have a household income of less than $60,000 per year and engage in public interest work. This work can be for nonprofits or government agencies.
McKinney alumni can earn up to half of their annual student loan payment amount, for a maximum of $5,000. The funds for this program vary from year to year.
Don’t forget about federal programs
All hope is not lost if your professional field doesn’t qualify you for student loan forgiveness in Indiana. The next step is to look for federal student loan forgiveness.
Teachers can qualify for forgiveness of their student debt through Teacher Loan Forgiveness. This program offers up to $17,500 for teachers who’ve taught full-time for five years in a row at eligible schools.
And professionals of all kinds can earn student loan forgiveness through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. This program wipes away the entire balance of eligible recipients’ student loan debt after 120 monthly payments. Qualifying employers include 501(c)(3) registered nonprofits (as well as some other nonprofits) and federal, state, local, and tribal government organizations.
Statute of limitations on debt in Indiana
Besides student loan forgiveness, is there ever a time when Indiana residents can be released from their student loan debt? Discharging student loans in bankruptcy is difficult, though not impossible.
But there’s also the statute of limitations on debt to consider. (For private student loans, that is — federal student loans are exempt from the statute of limitations on debt.)
Collections on private student loans become unenforceable once the loans have been in default for a specified number of years: Loans taken out prior to September 1, 1982, are time-barred after they’ve gone unpaid for 10 years, while loans taken out anytime after that are time-barred after six years.
Get that student loan forgiveness, Indiana residents
Student loan debt can be challenging for many of those who borrow. But there are ways to get help, thanks to student loan forgiveness programs. And if you’re not happy with the offerings you see, you can exercise your voice with your local lawmakers.
Meanwhile, you can look into some of the above student loan forgiveness options, while also using other strategies to take your student loan debt into your own hands and pay it off once and for all.
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