When you’re dealing with student loans, you might think you can’t afford to volunteer. After all, you need to make money so you can keep up with your monthly payments.
But as it turns out, taking part in community service is one of the best ways to get help with student loan debt. Many organizations offer student loan repayment assistance in exchange for volunteer work.
As a result, you can make a difference in the lives of others while still chipping away at your student debt.
To get started, check out these five charitable organizations that help pay off student loans for volunteers.
What it is: According to its mission statement, SponsorChange aims to “empower volunteers by creating a pathway to meaningful skill-based project opportunities at social impact organizations while helping volunteers raise funding to pay down their student loan debt.”
Essentially, the organization matches up volunteers with work based on their specialized skills. Then, it rewards their time with funds to put toward student loan payments.
You can find a list of the social impact organizations that are hosting skill-based project opportunities for volunteers on the website. Volunteers apply for projects similar to how they would apply for a job.
Who can volunteer: Current students and graduates with student loan debt are eligible.
How it can help you pay down your loans: For each project completed, an independent sponsor rewards you with student loan repayment assistance. Each project could net you anywhere from $200 to $1,000 for your loans.
2. AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps VISTA
What it is: AmeriCorps is a division of the Corporation for National and Community Service. It’s a government program that places young adults into intensive service positions where they learn valuable work skills, earn money for education, and develop an appreciation for citizenship.
Volunteers in Service to America was founded in 1965 to fight poverty in America. It stood as an independent agency for nearly three decades before being incorporated into AmeriCorps in 1993.
Who can volunteer: Volunteers for AmeriCorps must be at least 17 years old. VISTA volunteers may be 18 years of age or older.
How it can help you pay down your loans: All AmeriCorps volunteers qualify for forbearance during service. You might also get some of your interest covered while your loans are in forbearance.
Following 12 months of full-time service, AmeriCorps volunteers receive the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, which is tied to the maximum amount for the Pell Grant that year ($5,920 for 2017-2018). VISTA volunteers may elect to receive an end-of-service cash stipend in lieu of the Segal Award.
AmeriCorps volunteers can also count time in AmeriCorps toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
3. Teach for America
What it is: Teach for America is designed “to enlist, develop, and mobilize as many as possible of our nation’s most promising future leaders to grow and strengthen the movement for educational equity and excellence.”
Teachers who opt to give their time to Teach for America serve in underserved districts, often in inner-city or rural areas, where they work with economically disadvantaged populations.
Who can volunteer: Participants must have an undergraduate degree from an accredited college by their first day of training; have a minimum grade point average of 2.5; and be a citizen, legal permanent resident, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient.
How it can help you pay down your loans: Teach for America positions pay a salary, typically between $33,000 and $58,000, and provide benefits. Teachers can also receive on-the-job training that can help them later in their careers. Their work also counts toward PSLF.
4. Peace Corps
What it is: The Peace Corps, inaugurated by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, sends Americans abroad to tackle the most pressing needs of people around the world.
Peace Corps volunteers work for sustainable change at the grassroots level while becoming global citizens and serving their country.
Who can volunteer: Anyone who is 18 or older.
How it can help you pay down your loans: Peace Corps volunteers might get to defer their federal student loans, meaning they can pause payments. They might also be eligible for income-driven repayment and PSLF, along with a partial cancellation of Perkins Loans.
5. National Health Service Corps
What it is: The National Health Service Corps, a division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, helps bring health care to those in impoverished, remote, or otherwise underserved areas. The program enlists medical, dental, and behavioral health professionals.
Who can volunteer: Volunteers must be primary care physicians with one of the following qualifications:
- Medicine: MD, DO, NP, CNM, PA
- Dentistry: DMD, DDS, RDH
- Behavioral Health: HSP, LCSW, PNS, MFT, LPC
How it can help you pay down your loans: Primary care medical, dental, and behavioral health clinicians can get up to $50,000 to repay medical school loans in exchange for a two-year commitment at an approved NHSC site in a high-need underserved area.
What’s great is that the payment is free from federal income tax and is made at the beginning of service, so you can more quickly pay down your loans. Approved sites are located across the U.S. in both urban and rural areas.
Get rewarded for giving back
Volunteering your time is a way to feel good and give back, but it can also be a great method for getting help with your student loans.
There are many organizations out there willing to reward you for doing good. So get out there and start building communities!
Besides volunteering, don’t forget about other avenues for student loan forgiveness. This guide goes over every program that will forgive your student loans.
Rebecca Safier contributed to this article.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
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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 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% 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.
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2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
Savings example: average savings calculated based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were disclosed. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
Application detail: 5 minutes indicates typical time it takes to complete application with applicant information readily available. It does not include time taken to provide underwriting decision or funding of the loan.
Instant rates mean a delivery of personalized rates for those individuals who provide sufficient information to return a rate. For instant rates a soft credit pull will be conducted, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
Total savings calculated by aggregating individual average savings across total borrower population from 9/2013 to 12/2017. Individual average savings calculation based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were provided. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
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.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.47% – 6.99%3||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit SoFi|
|2.47% – 5.87%1||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Earnest|
|2.47% – 8.03%4||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Lendkey|
|2.95% – 6.37%2||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Laurel Road|
|2.48% – 6.25%5||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit CommonBond|
|2.72% – 8.32%6||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Citizens|