It’s true that there’s no magic eraser for student loan debt, but did you know that there are legitimate programs—some that are even government-sponsored—that can make your student loans disappear? Gone. Paid off. Cleared entirely from your financial plate. Sound too good to be true? This article can help you separate fact from fiction and decide if your chosen degree qualifies you for valuable student loan forgiveness programs.
Federal Loan Forgiveness
The most common loan forgiveness comes from the federal government. In certain cases, loans are paid (partially or entirely) for students who earn degrees in service-related sectors and/or agree to work for a period of time in areas where their skills are most needed. This type of loan forgiveness typically applies to loans obtained through certain channels and for specific educational purposes.
Employment sectors where student loan forgiveness has proven a popular and viable option include:
Volunteer Work/Public Service
- Members who successfully complete a term of service with AmeriCorps (or its Volunteers in Service to America program) are eligible to receive a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, which can go toward additional higher education or repayment of student loans.
- Joining the Peace Corps comes with many benefits, including loan deferment and cancelation for volunteers with certain types of student loans.
- The Student Loan Repayment Program provides loan forgiveness for employees of a variety of government agencies as well as military service personnel.
- Students who enlist and serve successful tours of duty with the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard are eligible for educational funding under the Montgomery G.I. Bill.
- Additional college funding and repayment opportunities for active members of the armed forces, as well as veterans and their families, are listed here.
- The federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program rewards teachers who work full time in low-income areas. (Additional eligibility requirements apply.)
- Loan Repayment Assistance Programs can help relieve the often staggering educational debt that many attorneys face after law school. These awards can be administered by institutions, state bar associations, and state and government agencies.
Because of the skyrocketing cost of completing a medical degree, nearly every branch of medicine offers conditional loan forgiveness programs to graduates. Some of the most commonly granted include:
- Loan forgiveness through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Health Service Corps and the Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program
- U.S. National Institutes of Health’s NIH Loan Repayment Programs
- Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program offered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture
- Many other state and local loan repayment options
Other Loan Cancellation/Forgiveness
Additionally, some loans can be canceled or forgiven for the following reasons:
- Your school closed within 90 days of your enrollment
- Funds were obtained fraudulently using your name or info
- The school did not thoroughly evaluate your credentials before accepting you
- You develop a permanent disability that prevents you from finishing the program
- You file for bankruptcy (FYI: This does not discharge most student debt.)
In general, complaints of poor training or limited job placement services are not sufficient grounds for canceling student loans. However, if you feel that you are eligible or have been wrongfully denied loan forgiveness, contact your loan administrator.