Did you know 7 in 10 college students take out loans to pay for school, graduating with an average balance of more than $39,000?
This isn’t exactly the ideal way to start out your professional life. But with skyrocketing tuition costs, many students don’t have a choice. People need to either skip college altogether or take out loans to cover the costs.
While it can take a long time to pay back debt, there is a way to get your balance wiped out all at once: by qualifying for student loan forgiveness. If you work for a certain amount of time in an eligible career or organization, you could get your student loan balance forgiven.
11 jobs that offer loan forgiveness
Student loan forgiveness can come from the federal government, the state government or a private organization. Federal loan forgiveness programs are typically available to professionals who work in public service organizations or high-need areas.
Student loan forgiveness jobs aren’t always the most high-paying, so there’s often a shortage of workers. But what you might sacrifice in income, you could make back with loan forgiveness after a few years.
The other way to get your loan forgiven is with a student loan repayment assistance program (LRAP) from your state, a private group or even a university. Some jobs that offer loan forgiveness through LRAPs include lawyer, doctor, veterinarian and psychologist.
Here’s a list of jobs that offer student loan forgiveness so you can decide if any would be right for you.
1. Federal agency employee
Here’s a little-known fact that applies to federal agencies: If they are having a hard time finding new employees to fill open slots, they are allowed to offer student loan repayment assistance.
To qualify, the new employee must sign a contract to work for the federal agency for a minimum of three years. The agency is allowed to pay up to $10,000 per year per employee for federally insured loans, but the total assistance given cannot exceed $60,000 per person.
2. Public service worker
If you work in a qualifying organization, such as a government agency or nonprofit, you could qualify for loan forgiveness.
Full-time public service employees with Perkins loans can get full cancellation of their loans, as long as they haven’t consolidated them. Some workers who could qualify include family and child services employees, law enforcement and correctional officers, and public defenders.
Public servants with direct loans (also known as Stafford loans) could pursue loan forgiveness through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program. PSLF is available to any worker in a government organization at any level (federal, state, local, etc.), as well as tax-exempt organizations or for-profit organizations with a qualifying service.
In order to receive PSLF as a public servant with a qualifying loan, you need to have made at least 120 qualifying monthly student loan payments. Even if you have reached 120 qualifying payments, PSLF is not guaranteed, and you will still need to apply.
Since PSLF started in 2007, the first applicants became eligible in 2017. Unfortunately, few were expected to receive forgiveness this year, and CNBC has reported that only 96 of 30,000 applicants have received forgiveness so far, so it’s unclear how many borrowers will actually benefit from this program. Although PSLF remains intact for now, it’s also uncertain whether the program will be around in 10 years.
That said, PSLF has a unique perk over some of the other loan forgiveness programs. Any debt forgiven through the PSLF program is not considered taxable income, so you won’t have to pay taxes on the forgiven amount. Once your balance is discharged, you shouldn’t have to pay another cent on your student loans.
3. Doctor / physician
There are several options for doctors in need of student loan repayment help. The Association of American Medical Colleges maintains a list of loan assistance programs for doctors by state.
Additionally, medical professionals who serve in the military have access to forgiveness programs as well. For example, through the Navy Financial Assistance Program (FAP), medical residents receive an annual grant of $45,000 on top of residency income, which can be put toward medical school debt.
Check out our full guide to student loan repayment for doctors for more options.
In addition to public service forgiveness options targeted specifically at graduates working in law, there are some other sources of loan repayment help that lawyers can take advantage of.
For instance, every spring, the Department of Justice opens up its Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program (ASLRP) to help recruit and retain new talent. Justice Department employees must have at least $10,000 in federal student loans to qualify.
For those who want to work as public defenders, the John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program provides loan assistance of varying amounts, depending on where you live.
5. Automotive professionals: SEMA Loan Forgiveness Program
Any automotive aftermarket industry manufacturer who is an employee of the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) can apply for the SEMA Loan Forgiveness Program.
The SEMA program awarded $160,000 to 60 winners in 2017 in scholarships and loan forgiveness. To be eligible to apply for the program, you must have been a SEMA employee for at least a year, hold a degree or certificate of completion from a college or technical school, and have graduated with at least a 2.5 GPA.
If you are a registered nurse, an “advanced practice registered nurse” such as a nurse practitioner or a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) facility nurse, you may be eligible for student loan repayment assistance through the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program.
The nurses chosen to receive assistance through the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program will get 60% of their qualifying student loan balance forgiven, in exchange for a minimum two-year service commitment. Also, qualifying participants may receive an additional 25% off their original loan balance if they complete a third year of service.
Please note that in this program, the full loan award amount is taxable. The amount you’ll pay in taxes will be far less than the amount of the loans, but it’s still a consideration to bear in mind.
If you would like to review the qualifications and fine print of the program, check out the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment program requirements. And for even more options, head to our full guide to student loan forgiveness for nurses.
If you teach in a low-income school district, are special education teacher, or work in an underemployed subject area or in a teacher shortage area, you may qualify for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program.
If you qualify, you could receive up to $5,000 or $17,500 in loan forgiveness, depending upon what subject matter you teach and your number of years of service. Note that to qualify, your student loan debt must be from federal direct loans or Stafford loans.
If, however, you have federal Perkins student loans, you could be eligible for the Perkins Loan Teacher Cancellation program. Through this program, you could potentially receive cancellation of up to 100% of your Perkins loans. In order to qualify, you need to teach at a low-income school, teach an underemployed subject area or serve as a full-time elementary or secondary school special education teacher.
The cancellation of your student loan debt will come in steps. For the first and second years of teaching, you will receive a 15% cancellation of your loan. For the third and fourth years, you will receive a 20% cancellation of your loan. For the fifth year of teaching, you will receive a 30% cancellation of your loan.
An added bonus is that each amount canceled per year also includes the cancellation of any interest that had accrued through the year.
8. AmeriCorps, Peace Corps and other qualifying volunteer organization workers
Did you know that certain volunteer organizations offer student loan forgiveness opportunities?
Don’t let high student loan debt deter you from taking the opportunity to help others.
Certain volunteer organizations like AmeriCorps, Peace Corps and Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) all have student loan awards or repayment options. You can apply for these after you have completed your term of service with the organization.
The terms and conditions on these programs vary, so visit their websites to learn more about student loan programs for volunteers.
Although dentists tend to make a high income — a median of $158,120, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — they also accrue a huge amount of debt before they start working. The American Dental Education Association found that the average dentist with student loans leaves school owing a whopping $285,184.
Luckily, there are some LRAPs for dentists, such as the Ohio Dentist Loan Repayment Program and Maryland Dent-Care Loan Assistance Repayment Program. Programs such as these offer significant loan assistance to dentists who work in qualifying areas or workplaces.
Like dentists, pharmacists take on a lot of education debt to earn their degrees. According to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, pharmacists borrow an average of $157,425 to finance their education.
Here, too, assistance is available: Several national LRAPs provide financial help to health care providers, including pharmacists. Plus, some state programs, such as the California State Loan Repayment Program, will pay back all or a portion of your loans if you establish residency and practice in a qualifying area.
Not only could working with animals be a fulfilling career, but it could also help you get forgiveness for your student loans. The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers $25,000 per year for three years in student loan repayment assistance to vets who work in underserved areas. Programs such as the North Dakota State Veterinarian Loan Repayment Program help veterinarians who agree to work in shortage areas.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 1 in 5 veterinarians leaves school owing more than $200,000 in student loans, while the average debt for graduates in 2016 was $143,758. Any program that offers relief in the form of forgiveness or repayment assistance could be a huge help as you work toward financial independence.
Should you pursue jobs that offer student loan forgiveness?
Student loan forgiveness programs are not like Monopoly. You can’t land on GO and just collect the money. Most student loan programs have strict legal requirements, contracts and a minimum term of employment. Also, you have to be current on your student loan payments — your loans can’t be in default.
Once you meet the requirements, though, you will receive debt repayment, cancellation or forgiveness. Giving just two or three years of your professional life to a qualifying job may be the answer to your student loan problems.
Every student loan repayment and forgiveness program has its own set of qualifications and eligibility requirements, so make sure that you do your research before pursuing any of these or other loan forgiveness programs.
If you do qualify, these programs could be a life-changing way to rid yourself of burdensome student loans.
Paula Pant contributed to this report.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 8 lenders of 2020!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
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 email@example.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.
3 Important Disclosures for Figure.
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 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 1/1/2020. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
5 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.
ANNUAL PERCENTAGE RATE (“APR”)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
6 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.
7 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
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.
8 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
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 12/019/2019 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.
|1.99% – 6.89%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.31% – 7.36%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.06% – 6.81%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.62% – 6.12%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.99% – 6.65%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.99% – 7.06%6||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.85% – 6.13%7||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.90% – 8.59%8||Undergrad & Graduate|