8 Ways to Erase Your Diploma’s Lingering Debt

For many of us, student loans are the largest “necessary evil” our wallets will ever face. But decades of endless payments may not be as necessary as you thought. A number of various loan forgiveness programs can reduce your financial burden while you serve your country, community, or world.

1. Join the military.

Defend your country and up to $20,000 in student loans could be paid back by Uncle Sam. The Army, Air Force, National Guard, and Navy each offer loan repayment programs for qualifying individuals.

2. Become a teacher.

Have a Perkins loan? Consider teaching full-time in a low-income elementary, middle, or high school for up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness. The longer you teach, the higher the dollar amount forgiven. Offers vary by school, district, and state.

3. Serve your country through AmeriCorps.

They call it the ultimate “choose your own adventure,” and for good reason. AmeriCorps is a network of thousands of service opportunities, ranging from helping students with their homework to filling sandbags. The impact on your loans? Up to 70% wiped clean.

4. Travel the world with the Peace Corps.

Like AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps provides up to 70% loan forgiveness for volunteer service. But unlike AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps sends participants all around the world, bringing the generosity of the American people to our friends across the globe.

5. Become a doctor.

That six figure education bankrolled by America’s medical professionals can be lessened in a couple of different ways. Medical students can research their way into partial loan repayment thanks to a program from the National Institutes of Health, and doctors can earn as much as $50,000 in assistance for two years volunteer service at clinics through a program sponsored by the National Health Service Corps.

6. Practice law.

Pro bono legal work can pay off for law school grads, thanks a nonprofit called Equal Justice Works. Only certain schools qualify, and participants must apply through their schools’ respective financial aid offices.

7. Eradicate poverty.

A program backed by AmeriCorps, VISTA serves tribal, rural, suburban, and urban communities in poverty eradication efforts. 220,000 people have served through the VISTA program to date, earing $5,815 in student loan forgiveness for their year of service.

Mind the details and enjoy your freedom.

One thing to keep in mind: some loan repayment programs may be considered taxable income by the IRS. Be sure to read the fine print and prepare for a higher-than-usual tax bill come April 15th. After you’ve crossed your t’s and dotted your i’s, sit back and savor your newfound financial freedom.

For those of you that don’t qualify for any of these, all hope is not lost. You could possibly save some serious cash by refinancing your student loans. Our friends at GetCompared have done an incredible job listing and reviewing the best companies for you.


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