Did you know that your student debt could be forgiven entirely or to a certain extent thanks to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program? Borrowers who work for the government or non-profit organizations are eligible for student loan debt forgiveness under this program. To be eligible for PSLF, they must work at least 30 hours per week or full-time for a qualified employer. Additionally, they must make 120 qualifying monthly payments during that time so that their balance can be forgiven.
The program has been notorious for its stringent requirements and has a high rate of applicants who were denied forgiveness. Fortunately, the Department of Education has made changes to this program, which is why many are optimistic that more borrowers will benefit from PSLF in the future.
Professions that can help eliminate your down student debt include: dentist, nurses teacher, and other public service workers. Let’s take a look at a few of them:
Teachers with student loan debts from Safford loans or Federal Direct Loans may be eligible for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. However, that’s not the end. They must teach full-time in a low-income school district, a teacher shortage area, or be a special education teacher for five consecutive academic years. Those who qualify may receive loan forgiveness of up to $17,500, depending on their years of service and their teaching subject. Teachers with federal Perkins student loans might qualify for the PLTC (Perkins Loan Teacher Cancellation Program). They could potentially receive a 100% cancellation of their student debt, provided they work in a low-income school, teach an underemployed subject, or teach special education full-time at an elementary or secondary school.
Federal Agency Employee
You may qualify for loan forgiveness through several federal programs if you are a government employee. Two of them are Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Federal Student Loan Repayment Program:
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness — Workers employed full-time by federal agencies or working for the state, local or tribal government may qualify for this program. This also includes civilians working in government jobs like public health, law enforcement, etc. Eligible applicants must have made 120 loan payments on an income-driven plan to be entitled to the forgiveness of the remaining balance of Federal Direct Loans.
- Federal Student Loan Repayment Program — Under this program, various government agencies can come up with repayment plans to help their employees pay off their student loans. Federal agencies can provide a student loan relief of up to $10,000 per year. Furthermore, federally insured loans have a maximum repayment amount of $60,000 per year. Another condition employees must fulfill is to work for the federal department for at least three years.
Nurses are also offered various loan forgiveness programs to acknowledge their contributions to society. Aside from the PSLF, other options include:
- Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program — Registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and nurses working in shortage and underserved areas could be eligible for this program. This program can cover up to 85% of the unpaid nursing school debt. Those who complete a two-year service commitment will see 60% of their qualifying student loan balances forgiven. And those who complete the third year of service will be granted an additional 25% written off their original loan amount.
- National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program — Although this program is available to doctors, it may also be open to qualifying nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives, and other medical professionals who have worked at least two years in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA).
The PSLF program is available to doctors who have worked for over ten years in public or non-profit hospitals. However, there is an even greater demand for doctors in low-income areas. Many loan forgiveness programs are available to encourage doctors to provide treatment to underserved communities. Some of them are:
- National Health Services Corps Loan Repayment Program — Doctors who work for at least two years in shortage areas and specialize in specific fields, such as gynecology, pediatrics, family medicine, internal medicine, and geriatrics, may qualify for up to $50,000 in student loan repayments.
- National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Program — Medical researchers at the National Institutes of Health can receive up to $50,000 per year in loan repayment. Only those health professionals who work in biomedical or behavioral research qualify for the program.
Attorneys performing a particular type of legal work can qualify for some available loan forgiveness programs. To be eligible for the PSLF program, they must be employed full-time by a federal, state, or local agency. Since this requirement applies to all government workers, they also need to make 120 monthly payments on an income-driven plan to qualify for the program.
Another loan forgiveness option refers to the Attorney Student Loan Repayment Plan. Attorneys who work in the Department of Justice and want to continue their work for at least three years could be eligible for this program. Moreover, an eligible attorney must have at least $10,000 in qualified student loans and meet all legal requirements. The program provides a maximum of $60,000 for loan repayment, up to $6,000 per year.
The American Dental Education Association states that the average dentist accrues considerable student debt during training. Fortunately, many federal- and state-level loan repayment assistance programs exist for dentists, dental hygienists, and dental providers. Some of them are:
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness — To qualify for this program, dentists must be employed by the federal government or work for a non-profit. Furthermore, they must finalize 120 monthly payments under an income-driven repayment plan to be eligible for forgiveness of the remaining loans.
- Health Resources and Services Administration Faculty Loan Repayment Program — A dentist from a disadvantaged background who teaches in a dental or health professional school can qualify for up to $40,000 in loan forgiveness under this program.
Certain types of veterinary work may qualify for loan forgiveness through both federal and state programs. The American Veterinary Medical Association states that veterinarians employed in the public health sector, public service, or private nonprofit organizations are eligible for the PSLF. They need to make 120 payments on an income-driven plan. Moreover, multiple other programs that could assist them in student loan repayment are also available.
- Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program — Through this program, vets may receive up to $25,000 provided they work for up to three years in areas designated by the federal government as being in a shortage situation.
- Active Duty Health Professionals Loan Repayment Program — Veterinarians enlisting in the Army Veterinary Corps and serving on active duty will be eligible for up to $120,000 to pay back their veterinary school loans over three years.
To qualify for student loan forgiveness, you must meet specific requirements, sign contracts, and work a minimum number of months or years. Once you meet the requirements, your debt will be repaid, canceled, or forgiven. However, each student loan repayment and forgiveness program has its own eligibility criteria, so make sure to check out all of them before applying.