The Federal Government offers two forgiveness programs to entice students to pursue careers beneficial to the public good: the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program. Private loans are not eligible for federal loan forgiveness, but some outside entities, such as professional associations and companies, will offer loan repayment opportunities for those interested in high-need fields.
Federal Loan Forgiveness Programs
Public Service Loan Forgiveness
You are eligible for loan forgiveness on federal loans if you have made 120 qualifying loan payments while working full-time for a qualifying employer. The following industries are considered to be under the eligible “public service” umbrella:
- Government organizations (federal, state, or local level)
- Tax-exempt non-profit organizations
- Other not-for-profit organizations whose primary purpose is to provide qualifying public service
The key to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program is to make sure you are making “qualifying” loan payments while employed in one of the above fields. Fill out the certification form as soon as possible to declare your intention to apply for loan forgiveness to confirm that you are indeed making qualifying payments.
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness applies to direct loans, as well as any Perkins loans that have been converted into a direct consolidated loan.
You can read more about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program here.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program
Highly qualified teachers who have taught for five consecutive years in a low-income school are eligible for up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness. To be considered a highly qualified teacher, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree and full state teaching certification.
Elementary and middle school teachers may need to meet additional qualifications to demonstrate their proficiency.
Careers That Offer Loan Repayment Programs
There are a handful of careers that offer loan repayment programs to individuals with student loan debt. While loan forgiveness is an FSA-led initiative, loan repayment programs often come from private entities or special interest projects.
The Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program offers to pay 60% of unpaid student debt for two years, with an option to extend for a third year. To qualify, you must be a licensed registered nurse, a nurse practitioner or a nurse faculty member; received your nursing education in a US State or territory, and work at an eligible Critical Shortage Facility in a high need area or at an accredited nursing school.
Doctors and Healthcare Professionals
The National Health Service Corps offers up to $50,000 in loan repayment to qualified healthcare professionals working at an NHCS-approved service site. Doctors, nurses, dentists, dental hygienists, and mental and behavioral care providers are all eligible.
Loan Repayment Assistance for Lawyers
The Department of Justice offers up to $60,000 in loan repayment for lawyers working at the Department.
Lawyers working as public defenders can earn up to $60,000 in loan repayment from the John R Justice Program.
The Herbert S Garten Loan Repayment Assistance Program offers up to $5,600 for up to three years to lawyers working at a qualifying practice who have over $75,000 in student loan debt.
All military branches offer their own loan repayment programs for those who enlist with existing student debt. Click here to see a program breakdown.
Many states offer loan repayment assistance programs for specific professions. Check this comprehensive database to find programs you may qualify for.