From Duke University to Davidson College and UNC Chapel Hill to Elon University, North Carolina is home to some of the world’s leading colleges and universities. But while a college degree can open the door to high-paying and fulfilling careers, it rarely comes free.
Of North Carolina’s more than 350,000 students, 57% graduate with student debt, and the average student leaves school owing $26,526 in loans, according to The Institute for College Access & Success.
Fortunately, there are programs for North Carolina students that will forgive some — or even all — of your student debt. Read on to learn about your options for student loan forgiveness in N.C.
Student loan repayment assistance for North Carolina residents
North Carolina has a few student loan repayment assistance programs (LRAPs) for qualifying residents. Two of these programs forgive all or part of your existing student loans in exchange for qualifying service. A third program issues you a student loan to pay for college and then forgives it if you meet certain criteria.
Here’s what you need to know about these North Carolina loan repayment programs.
North Carolina State Loan Repayment Program
The North Carolina State Loan Repayment Program offers up to $30,000 in loan assistance to mental health professionals serving in care settings. You must work in a rural or underserved area in a federal community health center, state-sponsored rural health center or another qualifying practice setting.
Qualifying disciplines include clinical social workers, professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, psychiatric nurse specialists and health service psychologists. Not only does this program offer significant loan assistance after two years, but it also has another perk: Any loan assistance you receive is tax-free.
North Carolina Legal Education Assistance Foundation (NC LEAF)
Since 1991, NC LEAF has provided more than $7.1 million in loan assistance to nearly 1,450 public service attorneys. This program offers loan assistance of up to $400 a month, or up to $4,800 a year.
To be eligible, you must have a Juris Doctor degree from an accredited school and be licensed to practice in North Carolina. You also must have at least $10,000 in student loans and can’t make more than $55,000 a year (or $95,000 for couples).
While this program only guarantees assistance for one calendar year, any little bit helps toward getting rid of your student debt.
Forgivable Education Loans for Service
North Carolina also provides forgivable education loans to students who commit to working in a critical shortage employment profession after college. To qualify, you must meet or exceed a given GPA as a high school or college student.
You also must attend an eligible school and enroll in an approved program, which tends to fall in the medical, health, nursing or teaching fields. Bachelor’s and master’s degree candidates can borrow up to $20,000 in forgivable loans, while doctoral candidates can borrow up to $56,000.
This program typically forgives one year’s loan amount for each year of service. Note that if you don’t get loan forgiveness, you’ll have to pay back these loans with 8.00% interest.
Look for national LRAPs, too
Along with these North Carolina loan repayment programs, you might also come across LRAPs that operate on the national level. The John R. Justice Program, for example, is available in most states to provide loan repayment assistance to qualifying attorneys.
If you’re working in a career that could qualify for loan forgiveness, widen your search outside of North Carolina to see if you can qualify for any national assistance programs.
Federal loan forgiveness and discharge programs
Not only could you get your loans forgiven from a North Carolina loan repayment program, but you might also qualify for loan forgiveness from the federal government. Here are a few options, but you should also take a look at this guide to federal loan forgiveness for the complete list.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
PSLF is a federal program that forgives your loans after 10 years of service. To qualify, you must work in an eligible setting, such as a government or nonprofit organization.
You also must put your loans on an extended repayment plan or income-driven plan. If you stayed on the standard 10-year plan, you’d have no balance left to forgive.
Note, however, that the amount you receive in loan forgiveness is considered taxable income.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness
If you teach at a low-income school or educational service agency, you could qualify for partial forgiveness of your federal student loans through the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. After five years, you could receive either $5,000 or $17,500 in loan forgiveness, depending on which subject you teach.
National Health Service Corps (NHSC) loan repayment assistance
The NHSC program forgives up to $50,000 in student loans to primary care physicians, dentists, mental or behavioral clinicians, or other licensed health care providers. To be eligible for this program, you must work for two years in a qualifying setting.
NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program
As a registered nurse, nurse practitioner or nurse faculty member, you could get up to 60% of your student loans forgiven after two years of employment through the NURSE Corps program. Plus, you could get an additional 25% paid off if you work for a third year. To qualify, you must serve a high-needs population in a critical shortage area.
Forgiveness from an income-driven repayment plan
If your student loans bills are too high, you could adjust them with an income-driven plan. Plans such as income-based repayment, Pay As You Earn, Revised Pay As You Earn and income-contingent repayment all change your monthly bill by your income while extending your terms to 20 or 25 years.
And if you still have a balance at the end of your term, it will be forgiven. That said, note that any balance forgiven through an income-driven plan is considered taxable income.
Student loan discharge for a qualifying reason
Along with offering loan forgiveness in exchange for qualifying service, the federal government also allows loan discharge for other reasons. If your school has closed down, violated state laws or falsely certified your loan, for example, you could be eligible for student loan discharge.
You might also be able to get rid of your loans if you’ve experienced total and permanent disability. In rare cases, you can get your loan balance discharged through bankruptcy. Learn more about the ways you could qualify for student loan discharge to see if any could apply to you.
Your private student loans have a 3-year statute of limitations
If you earn loan forgiveness, your entire balance could be wiped out overnight. But before this happens, you’ll need to keep up with your bills each month.
Unfortunately, private lenders aren’t always flexible if you run into financial hardship. If you miss payments, debt collectors could start calling. What’s more, your lender could bring you to court to demand repayment of the loan.
But in North Carolina, private lenders only have three years to sue for debt repayment. After three years, the statute of limitations on your private debt is up. While debt collectors could still contact you, your lender will have no legal recourse to take.
This statute of limitations, by the way, only applies to private student loans. Federal student loans will stick around forever. And whatever type of debt you have, going into default results in a host of bad consequences, not to mention a lot of stress.
So if you’re struggling to make payments, speak with your loan servicer about your options. By identifying the issue early, you can take steps to get your finances back on track.
Grants and scholarships for North Carolina students
If you’re a new or current college student, you can reduce the amount you need to borrow in student loans by applying for grants and scholarships.
While there are scholarship opportunities across the country, the following are specifically available for North Carolina students. You can head to the College Foundation of North Carolina website for the full list.
- Aubrey Lee Brooks Scholarship: Up to $12,000 to students with financial need attending North Carolina State University, UNC Chapel Hill or UNC Greensboro. To qualify, you must go to high school in an eligible North Carolina county.
- Crumley Roberts Founder’s Scholarship: $2,500 to three North Carolina students every year who have a GPA of 3.2 or higher. The application includes a written essay.
- Eunice M. Smith Scholarship: $1,000 to undergraduates and $2,000 to graduate students who are studying nursing in North Carolina and have a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
- Florence Kidder Memorial Scholarship: $1,000 or $3,000 for students attending college in North Carolina. The scholarship is awarded based mainly on your essay, but it also takes academics, character and financial need into account.
- Jagannathan Scholarship: Awards of varying amounts for students planning to enroll in a UNC school. You must show academic achievement, leadership and financial need to win this scholarship.
- J. Howard Coble Scholarship: $2,500 to a student who demonstrates leadership qualities and lives in an eligible North Carolina county.
Besides applying for private grants and scholarships, submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to put yourself in the running for federal grants. Most federal grants, such as the Pell Grant and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, go to students with financial need.
By maximizing your chances for gift aid, you can reduce the amount you need to borrow in student loans.
Get help paying off your student debt
While loan forgiveness programs can be a huge financial help, they’re not for everyone. Some require years of service in a low-paying field or challenging workplace, which might not line up with your career goals.
What’s more, programs come and go, sometimes running out of funding from one year to the next. And some federal options, such as PSLF — and, recently, borrower defense to repayment — have uncertain futures due to political controversy.
While you can get student loan forgiveness in North Carolina, you can’t necessarily see it as a guarantee. So keep exploring all your options for student loan repayment, whether that involves putting your loans on an income-driven plan or refinancing your student loans and qualifying for lower rates.
Find a student loan repayment strategy that works for you as you keep chipping away at your debt. Whether you earn loan forgiveness or throw extra payments at your loans, you might even be able to get out of debt ahead of schedule.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
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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 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.89% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.97% 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 Month/Day/Year, 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 08/21/18. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent 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 Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
APR stands for “Annual Percentage Rate.” Rates listed include a 0.25% EFT discount, for automatic payments made from a checking or savings account. Interest rates as of 11/8/2018. Rates subject to change.
Variable rate options consist of a range from 3.27% per year to 6.09% per year for a 5-year term, 4.64% per year to 6.14% per year for a 7-year term, 4.69% per year to 6.19% per year for a 10-year term, 4.94% per year to 6.44% per year for a 15-year term, or 5.19% per year to 6.69% per year for a 20-year term, with no origination fees. APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rate will change on the first day of every month (“Change Date”) if the Current Index changes. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes. The variable interest rates are calculated by adding a margin ranging from 0.98% to 3.80% for the 5-year term loan, 2.35% to 3.85% for the 7-year term loan, 2.40% to 3.90% for the 10-year term loan, 2.65% to 4.15% for the 15-year term loan, and 2.90% to 4.40% for the 20-year term loan, respectively, to the 1-month LIBOR index published on the 25th day of each month immediately preceding each “Change Date,” as defined above, rounded to two decimal places, with no origination fees. If the 25th day of the month is not a business day or is a US federal holiday, the reference date will be the most recent date preceding the 25th day of the month that is a business day. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 3.27% per year to 6.09% per year for a 5-year term would be from $180.89 to $193.75. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.64% per year to 6.14% per year for a 7-year term would be from $139.65 to $146.76. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.69% per year to 6.19% per year for a 10-year term would be from $104.56 to $111.98. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.94% per year to 6.44% per year for a 15-year term would be from $78.77 to $86.78. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 5.19% per year to 6.69% per year for a 20-year term would be from $67.05 to $75.68.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 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.
5 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 2.28% effective October 10, 2018.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.47% – 6.99%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.46% – 6.97%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.57% – 8.44%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.05% – 6.47%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 7.24%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.79% – 8.39%6||Undergrad & Graduate|