Student Loan Forgiveness May Be in Your Future With These Four Jobs
Today’s undergraduates are burdened by crippling student loan debt. And while the problem spans the globe from the UK to Japan, it’s most prevalent in the US, where student loan debt has recently ballooned into the trillions, with more than seven million borrowers in default.
However, not all US students end up on the hook for the money they owe thanks to something called student loan forgiveness. In addition to certain situations which qualify students for discharge, such as the closing of a school, total and permanent disability, and death, certain careers can also lead to student loan forgiveness. Let’s count down four career options which may qualify you to receive some or all relief from the burden of student loans.
1. Public Service Workers
Full-time government employees as well as individuals who work for qualifying not-for-profit organizations are eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program through which the balance of all Direct Loans is wiped away following 120 monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan.
Serving full-time in the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps? Good news! This also counts under the terms of the PSLF program. Employees of labor unions, partisan political organizations, for-profit organizations and non-tax-exempt nonprofits are not so lucky, however: They are not eligible for PSLF loan forgiveness.
One thing to keep in mind? Loan forgiveness doesn’t automatically kick into effect once you’ve made that 120th qualifying monthly program. Rather, you must submit a PSLF application.
Teaching is widely considered to be one of society’s most vital professions, and yet the majority of teachers are underpaid. In an effort to encourage people to enter and stay in the profession, a number of student loan relief programs for teachers have debuted in recent years. Many of the programs are loan-specific, including the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program and the Federal Perkins Loan Program.
While forgiveness amounts are variable and may be impacted by everything from teaching credentials to available funding, any amount can help alleviate the financial burden of coping with loan debt on a low salary. However, the vast majority of these programs do not support private loan debt so sticking with federal loans is the most promising path for those hoping to qualify for loan forgiveness.
While there are currently no federal student debt repayment programs aimed specifically at farmers, certain US states offer their own support. Under Pennsylvania’s Agriculture Education Loan Forgiveness (AELF) program, for example, eligible graduates who return to the state to work in a qualifying agricultural field may have up to $2,000 a year forgiven on their federally insured student loans by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency. New York state, meanwhile, encourages recent grads to pursue farming careers through its Young Farmers Loan Forgiveness Incentive Program.
A movement is underway, however, to have farmers join other public service professionals in eligibility for the PSLF program. The Young Farmer Success Act cites a 20 percent decrease in beginning farmers between 2007 and 2012 along with the fact that just six percent of farmers are under the age of six percent as evidence of the fact that the next generation of farmers should benefit from federal assistance.
While we typically think of doctors making the big bucks, the fact is that even they are subject to being overburdened by student loans due to the extremely high cost of medical school. Need specifics? According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), 81 percent of 2015’s graduating medical students entered the job market with a median average of $183,000 in student loan debt. Factor in an estimated salary of $52,200 in the first year of residency following graduation, and the debt burden of many new physicians becomes easier to understand. Luckily, a number of resources exist to help qualified health care providers, including the PSLF and the National Health Service Corps’ Loan Repayment Program.
According to a report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), despite the many loan forgiveness programs out there, as many as 33 million people -- that’s a quarter of the country’s workforce -- are eligible for student loan forgiveness, and yet a mere fraction of these people take advantage of the support. Understanding all of the options is one simple way for you to minimize debt and maximize relief if you’re considering entering into one of these professions.
One last thing to keep in mind? Choosing a profession entirely because it may qualify you for future loan forgiveness may seem like a financially wise course of action, but may also have long-term complications. Why? Because while money may make the world go ‘round, enjoying the ride is essential to leading a fulfilling life.
Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.