9 Grants to Pay Off Student Loans and End Your Debt

 September 27, 2020
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Grants can be a great way to pay for college — even after you’ve left school.

Yes, grants to pay off student loans really do exist. You can find these student loan grants via federal and state government-funded programs as well as nonprofit organizations. The majority of these opportunities carry service or employment requirements.

Below are nine grants to pay off student loans, plus answers to these related FAQs:

9 grants to pay off student loans

If you’re seeking grants to pay off student loans and want to get a general idea of what’s out there, see if you fit the criteria for any of the nine sample opportunities below. We’ve broken them down into the following categories:

For health care professionals

1. Contraception and Infertility Research Loan Repayment Program

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers a student loan repayment incentive to encourage people to work in areas of reproductive research. Under the Contraception and Infertility Research Repayment Program, recipients can get up to $50,000 a year to help with student loan repayment.

Awardees must commit to two years of work researching contraception and infertility issues.

2. National Institute of Mental Health Loan Repayment Program

If you are a health care professional planning to pursue a career in behavioral, social or clinical research with a nonprofit organization, you can receive grants to pay off student loans from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

The award runs as high as $50,000 per year, which you can use to pay off doctoral level degrees.

3. Nurse Corps Repayment Program

If you are a nurse, you can get up to 85% of your outstanding loans paid off through the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program offered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

To be eligible, you must be a licensed registered nurse, a nurse practitioner or a nursing faculty member with a nursing degree. Applicants should work in either a health care facility with a critical shortage or at an accredited school of nursing.

4. Pennsylvania Primary Care Loan Repayment Program

Health care professionals willing to work in underserved areas in Pennsylvania can get between $30,000 and $100,000 to use towards your student loans.

To receive Pennsylvania’s health care grant, you must make a two-year service commitment.

If you don’t live in Pennsylvania or another state with a similar program

Check out loan repayment programs via:
Indian Health Service
National Health Service Corps

5. The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP)

If you’re a veterinarian looking for grants to pay off student loans, look no further than the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Its loan repayment assistance program awards up to $25,000 per year – $75,000 total – in exchange for three years of paid work in an underserved area.

To be eligible, you must have an accredited degree in veterinary medicine and carry at least $15,000 in loan debt.

For military personnel or their surviving family members

6. Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant

If you had a parent who served in the military and died as a result of their service in either Iraq or Afghanistan after the events of 9/11, you may receive up to $6,345 to use towards your student loans.

To apply via the Federal Student Aid website, you must have been under 24 or enrolled at least part-time in college at the time of your parent’s death.

Also, if you follow in your parents’ footsteps into the military, contact your armed forces branch to learn about military loan forgiveness and repayment programs.

For lawyers

7. John R. Justice Student (JRJ) Loan Repayment Program

If you are a state public defender or prosecutor, you may be eligible for the John R. Justice (JRJ) Student Loan Repayment Program. Under this initiative, you can receive $10,000 a year for up to six years to help pay off your student loans.

To apply for the grant, you must agree to work as a public defender or state prosecutor for at least three years. For more information, visit your state agency website to learn about your area’s requirements.

Also check out:
Department of Justice Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program
Herbert S. Garten Loan Repayment Assistance Program

For farmers

8. New York State Young Farmers Loan Forgiveness Incentive Program

In New York, graduates who want to pursue a career in farming can receive up to $10,000 a year for up to five years to pay off their debt. To be eligible, individuals must have received their degree from a New York college or university and agree to operate a farm in New York for at least five years.

To apply, you must submit your application within two years after graduating from school. Both federal and private student loans are eligible.

For STEM and other career fields

9. The ND Career Builders scholarship and loan repayment program

Cameron Battagler graduated from Valley City State University with $30,000 in student loans. But with the help of student loan repayment grants, he was able to pay off his debt two years ahead of schedule.

“I was able to find about $6,000 in grants after I graduated that helped pay off my debt,” Battagler said. “The money is there, and it often goes unused.”

Because he is a computer programmer, Battagler qualified for the now-defunct North Dakota’s STEM Occupations Loan Forgiveness Program, receiving $1,500 a year to pay off his loans. That money helped knock off months from his repayment term, and he was able to save thousands in interest.

The STEM grant program has been replaced by the ND Career Builders scholarship and loan repayment program, which is more widely available. In fact, student loan borrowers working in 80-plus “high-need and emerging” positions in the state could qualify for assistance.

Also check out:
A number of other states have similar programs, such as Maine’s Alfond Leaders student debt reduction program. Investigate options where you live using our database of loan repayment assistance programs.

Where can you find more grants to pay off student loans?

There are many different sources of grants to pay off student loans. The federal government offers several grant options through various departments, such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

You can also find student loan repayment grants offered by your state. Independent of federal programs, states offer grants and incentives to encourage graduates to live and work in fields with staffing shortages, such as in engineering or health care.

Some nonprofits offer grants to workers in particular fields too. Depending on your career choice, you might find a wide range of options to manage your debt.

Read up on more grants for…
Black women
Graduate students
Adults returning to college
Writers
Female entrepreneurs

Do you have to repay grants?

Grants don’t function the same as student loans, and you typically don’t have to repay them.

There may be some grant programs, however, that have stipulations for keeping the award. If you don’t meet all of the requirements, you could lose the full grant amount or even have to pay back some of the grant money you’ve already received.

What if you can’t get these student loan grants?

Not all people will be eligible for grants to pay off student loans. Repayment grants are typically limited to certain fields and only offered in particular areas.

But that doesn’t mean you are out of options. If you’re overwhelmed with your student loans, there are still ways to manage your debt.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

If you work for the government or a nonprofit but are ineligible for grants to pay off student loans, you may qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). Under PSLF, after 10 years of service and making qualifying payments on your federal student loans, the government forgives the remaining balance.

And unlike other forgiveness options, the discharged balance is not taxable as income, which can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. That said, there are downsides to PSLF you should consider before you set off on this path.

Income-Driven Repayment plans

If you are struggling to keep up with your payments on your current salary and have federal loans, check out Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plans. There are four separate plans:

  • Income-Based Repayment
  • Income-Contingent Repayment
  • Pay As You Earn
  • Revised Pay As You Earn

While each plan differs slightly, the basics are the same: The government extends your repayment term and caps your monthly payment at a percentage of your discretionary income.

Switching to an IDR plan can drastically reduce your monthly payment, making managing your loans much easier. Keep in mind that it’ll also allow interest to accrue over time, increasing the total cost of your loan.

Refinancing

If PSLF and IDR plans are not an option, another path to consider is refinancing your debt. With refinancing, you take out a new loan for your student debt balance with new terms. You can secure a different repayment term, a lower interest rate or a smaller monthly payment.

By refinancing, you can save money over the length of your repayment and have more room in your budget. Use a student loan refinancing calculator to see what kind of savings you can net from refinancing, and make sure you’re aware of the drawbacks to refinancing as well.

Andrew Pentis contributed to this report.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 9 lenders of 2021!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
1.87% – 6.15%1Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Splash

1.88% – 5.64%2Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Earnest

2.50% – 6.85%3Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit CommonBond

1.89% – 5.90%4Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Laurel Road

1.74% – 6.59%5Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit SoFi

1.90% – 5.25%6Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Lendkey

1.88% – 5.64%7Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit NaviRefi

1.86% – 6.01%Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Elfi

2.13% – 5.25%8Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit PenFed

Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
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 June 1, 2021.


2 Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

Interest Rate Disclosure

Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 2.44% APR to 5.79% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 1.88% APR to 5.64% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 36% (the maximum allowable for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate student loan refinance 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 2.04% and 5.8% to the one month LIBOR. Earnest rate ranges are current as of 6/8/2021, and are subject to change based on market conditions.

Auto Pay Discount Disclosure

You can take advantage of the Auto Pay interest rate reduction by setting up and maintaining active and automatic ACH withdrawal of your loan payment. The interest rate reduction for Auto Pay will be available only while your loan is enrolled in Auto Pay. Interest rate incentives for utilizing Auto Pay may not be combined with certain private student loan repayment programs that also offer an interest rate reduction. For multi-party loans, only one party may enroll in Auto Pay.

Student Loan Refinancing Loan Cost Examples

These examples provide estimates based on payments beginning immediately upon loan disbursement. Variable APR: A $10,000 loan with a 20-year term (240 monthly payments of $72) and a 5.89% APR would result in a total estimated payment amount of $17,042.39. For a variable loan, after your starting rate is set, your rate will then vary with the market. Fixed APR: A $10,000 loan with a 20-year term (240 monthly payments of $72) and a 6.04% APR would result in a total estimated payment amount of $17,249.77. Your actual repayment terms may vary.Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest. com/terms-of-service, e-mail us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.

Earnest Loans are made by Earnest Operations LLC or One American Bank, Member FDIC. Earnest Operations LLC, NMLS #1204917. 535 Mission St., Suite 1663, San Francisco, CA 94105. California Financing Law License 6054788. Visit earnest.com/licenses for a full list of licensed states. For California residents (Student Loan Refinance Only): Loans will be arranged or made pursuant to a California Financing Law License.

One American Bank, 515 S. Minnesota Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57104. Earnest loans are serviced by Earnest Operations LLC with support from Navient Solutions LLC (NMLS #212430). One American Bank and Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.

© 2021 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved.


3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. 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 0.15% effective Jan 1, 2021 and may increase after consummation.


4 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.

  1. Checking your rate with Laurel Road only requires a soft credit pull, 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.
  2. Savings vary based on rate and term of your existing and refinanced loan(s). Refinancing to a longer term may lower your monthly payments, but may also increase the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Refinancing to a shorter term may increase your monthly payments, but may lower the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Review your loan documentation for total cost of your refinanced loan.
  3. 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. During any period of forbearance interest will continue to accrue. At the end of the forbearance period, any unpaid accrued interest will be capitalized and be added to the remaining principle amount of the loan.
  4. Automatic Payment (“AutoPay”) Discount: if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically from a bank account, the interest rate will decrease by 0.25% and will increase back if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically from the borrower’s bank account. The 0.25% AutoPay discount will not reduce the monthly payment; instead, the discount is applied to the principal to help pay the loan down faster.

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 April 29, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
 


5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

Fixed rates range from 2.49% APR to 6.94% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Variable rates from 1.74% APR to 6.59% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law, Variable Interest rates on 5-, 7-, and 10-year terms are capped at 8.95% APR; 15- and 20-year terms are capped at 9.95% APR. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, presence of a co-signer and a variety of other factors. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. For the SoFi variable-rate product, the variable interest rate for a given month is derived by adding a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). APRs for variable-rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. This benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit lowers your interest rate but does not change the amount of your monthly payment. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi.


6 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

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 11/15/2021 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.90% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.49% APR – 7.75% Fixed APR with AutoPay.


7 Important Disclosures for Navient.

Navient Disclosures

1. NaviRefi loans are made by Earnest Operations LLC, a member of the Navient family of companies, subject to individual approval and underwriting criteria. California residents only: Loans made or arranged pursuant to a California Finance Lenders Law license. Additional terms and conditions apply.

– To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or non-citizen permanent resident of the United States, reside in a state we lend in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.navirefi.com/help-and-questions. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Loan terms are subject to eligibility. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application. Loan approval is subject to confirmation that your debt-to-income, free cash flow, credit history and application information meet the minimum requirements. You must have a minimum FICO score to be considered.

– You can choose between fixed and variable rates. Fixed interest rates are 2.75% – 6.04% APR (2.50% – 5.79% APR with Auto Pay discount). Starting variable interest rates are 2.13% – 5.89% APR (1.88% – 5.64% APR with Auto Pay discount). Variable rates are based on an index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) plus a margin. Variable rates are reset monthly based on the fluctuation of the index. We do not currently offer variable rate loans in AK, CO, CT, HI, IL, KY, MA, MN, MS, NH, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, and VA.

– You can take advantage of the 0.25% Auto Pay interest rate reduction by setting up and maintaining active and automatic ACH withdrawal of your loan payment. The interest rate reduction for Auto Pay will be available only while your loan is enrolled in Auto Pay. Interest rate incentives for utilizing Auto Pay may not be combined with certain private student loan repayment programs that also offer an interest rate reduction. NaviRefi rate ranges are current as of June 1, 2021 and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.

– Loan cost examples: These examples provide estimates based on payments beginning immediately upon loan disbursement. Variable APR: A $10,000 loan with a 20-year term (240 monthly payments of $72) and a 5.89% APR would result in a total estimated payment amount of $17,042. For a variable loan, after your starting rate is set, your rate will then vary with the market. Fixed APR: A $10,000 loan with a 20-year term (240 monthly payments of $72) and a 6.04% APR would result in a total estimated payment amount of $17,250. Your actual repayment terms may vary.

– The information provided on this page is updated as of 06/1/2021. Earnest Operations LLC reserves the right to modify or discontinue (in whole or in part) this loan program and its associated services and benefits at any time without notice. Check www.navirefi.com for the most up-to-date information. Terms and Conditions apply. Call 855-284-4893 for more information on our student loan refinance product.

– Earnest Operations LLC – NMLS #1204917, CA CFL #6054788 – 535 Mission St., Suite 1663, San Francisco, CA 94105.
Navient Solutions, LLC – NMLS #212430 – 123 Justison St., Wilmington, DE 19801. Visit https://navirefi.com/lending-licenses for a full list of licensed states.


8 Important Disclosures for PenFed.

PenFed Disclosures

Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed Rates range from 2.89%-4.78% APR and Variable Rates range from 2.13%-5.25% APR. Both Fixed and Variable Rates will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. For Variable Rate student loans, the rate will never exceed 9.00% for 5 year and 8 year loans and 10.00% for 12 and 15 years loans (the maximum allowable for this loan). Minimum variable rate will be 2.00%. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.