While a college degree can open the door to a high-paying and fulfilling career, it rarely comes for free. North Carolina residents, just like those everywhere across the U.S., can carry a heavy student loan debt burden.
Fortunately, there are programs for North Carolina residents that will forgive at least a portion of student debt. Read our list on to learn about your options for student loan forgiveness in NC.
Student loan repayment assistance for North Carolina residents
Federal loan forgiveness and discharge programs
Grants and scholarships for North Carolina students
Get help paying off your student debt
North Carolina has a few student loan repayment assistance programs (LRAPs) for qualifying residents. Here’s what you need to know about these North Carolina loan forgiveness programs.
- North Carolina State Loan Repayment Program
- North Carolina Legal Education Assistance Foundation (NC LEAF)
- Forgivable Education Loans for Service
- Look for national LRAPs, too
The North Carolina State Loan Repayment Program offers up to $50,000 in loan assistance to mental health professionals in the state. You must make a two-year commitment to work in a rural or underserved area at a federal community health center, state-sponsored rural health center or other qualifying setting. You may also be able to get more awards for additional one-year service commitments.
Qualifying disciplines include clinical social workers, professional counselors, marriage and family counselors, clinical addiction specialists, psychiatric nurse specialists, physicians assistants in mental and behavioral health, and health service psychologists. Any loan assistance you receive is tax-free.
The NC LEAF program offers loan assistance to public interest attorneys in North Carolina.
To be eligible, you must have a Juris Doctor degree from an accredited school and be licensed to practice in the state. Due to ongoing funding issues for this program, at the time of publication, there was no general application period for this award. Awards available were for public interest attorneys in Mecklenburg County and for those who aim to become Board Certified Specialists.
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 have at least a weighted GPA of 3.0 as a high school student, a 2.80 as an undergraduate and a 3.20 as a grad student.
You also must attend an eligible school and enroll in an approved program geared toward either the medical or teaching fields. Bachelor’s and master’s degree candidates can borrow up to $20,000 in forgivable loans, while doctoral candidates may borrow up to $56,000.
This program typically forgives one year’s loan amount for each year of service. Note that these loans accrue interest at a relatively high 8% rate.
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, consider widening your search outside of North Carolina to see if you can qualify for any national assistance programs.
Here are some options for federal loan forgiveness programs. You can 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 the balance on your Direct Loans after you have made 120 monthly qualifying payments (not necessarily consecutive) while also working full time for an eligible employer. To qualify, you must work in a setting such as a government or nonprofit organization.
Any William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan qualifies for PSLF. Loans from private lenders do not qualify.
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. The higher award amounts will go to teachers who have strong qualifications in math and special education.
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 who commit to working two years in a qualifying setting. Those who make a service commitment of at least three years may be able to receive an award of up to $75,000.
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 might 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.
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.
If you’re a future or current college student, you can also 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 Scholarship: Under this umbrella, students can apply to two scholarships that provide $2,500, and one specifically for women, called the the Little Red Jumpsuit Tour Scholarship, that provides $2,000.
- Mary Lewis Wyche Fellowship: A $5,000 award for RNs seeking their master’s or doctorate in nursing or administration. This is one of several nursing awards offered in the state; you can see a full list here.
- Florence Kidder Memorial Scholarship: $1,000 or $3,000 for students attending college in North Carolina. This scholarship is aimed specifically at high school seniors.
- 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: For students who demonstrate leadership qualities and live in an eligible North Carolina county. This award is also aimed at incoming college freshmen.
Besides applying for private grants and scholarships, you can 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.
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 have uncertain futures due to political controversy.
While you can get student loan forgiveness in North Carolina, it isn’t always a guarantee. So keep exploring all your options for student loan repayment, whether that involves putting your loans into an income-driven plan or refinancing your student loans and qualifying for lower rates. If need be, you can also explore forbearance or deferment of your student loans.
Find a student loan repayment strategy that works for you as you keep chipping away at your debt. Here is Student Loan Hero’s full guide to lowering your student loan payments.
Rebecca Stropoli contributed to this report.
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1 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. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount.
The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.
To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of October 1, 2020.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. 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. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.
Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.
Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.
Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.
Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of December 1, 2020. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 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 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.49% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.34% 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 October 26, 2020, 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 10/26/2020. 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 protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2020 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.
5 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 11/13/2020 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.97% to 8.54% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.95% to 8.77% Fixed APR with AutoPay.