Becoming a college student brings a mass amount of tuition and fees that can quickly add up. Receiving financial aid through grants and scholarships can help ease the heavy weight felt from all the fiscal obligations college holds. Many of those grants and scholarships, however, are awarded based on need or have a long list of qualifications that must be met. Many students get disqualified from receiving endowments for various reasons and must resort to one of the most dreaded tasks college students face: taking out student loans.
Using student loans to pay for college is one of the most feasible ways for students to get through school. Once out of college, though, many former students find it hard to pay back those loans. There has to be an easier way than spending every last hard-earned penny on the monthly payments and interest, right? There must be some sort of grant for this, too, right? As of current, there is no grant that exists to pay off student loans, but there are numerous alternatives that will help pay back student loans.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program is designed to forgive federal student loans for those who dedicate their lives to the public sector. To qualify, you must work for an organization that is considered a public servant. Government employees and those who work for not-for-profit agencies are two occupations that fall into this category.
To be eligible for forgiveness, you must have made payments on your loans for ten consecutive years. Once all of those payments have been made, and an application sent, the remaining balance of your loans can be forgiven upon approval. Unlike most other loan forgiveness opportunities, the amounts that you are forgiven are not eligible to be considered income that can be taxed. If you plan on working in the public sector as a career, this program will benefit you greatly. Though it is not a true grant, the PSLF program is very close and will help you pay off your student loans.
Employment Based Opportunities
If you aren’t in the public sector, there are other career-specific programs that will aid in partially forgiving student loans. Grants and other awards can be earned based on your service in your field. Career fields that contain these sort of programs include:
Taking advantage of these opportunities can cut the amount you owe by a substantial amount. Exact amounts that will be awarded vary based on your occupation and where you live, but every penny counts. Careers with these sorts of benefits are nearly synonymous with grants to pay off student loans.
Repayment Plans Based on Income
To receive a grant, you usually must be in some sort of financial grief since they are typically need-based. Though there may not be a specific grant to pay off student loans, there are income-based repayment plan options that are need-based. If you are not in the financial situation to continue to pay off your loans, applying for an income-drive repayment plan can help ease the burden. Your monthly payments on these sorts of plans can drop down as low as $0. In 20 to 25 years, the remaining balance on the loans can be forgiven. Currently, however, the balance that is forgiven will be treated as taxable income. The interest on the loans is also very likely to be more than what the loan was originally worth as well.
The Peace Corps
If you took on a career you thought you’d fall in love with but ended up hating, joining the Peace Corps is an option. The obligation to pay back the student loans you took out to get that career can be taken care of while in the corps. Becoming a Peace Corps volunteer counts towards time in the public sector and earns you years on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
Have a Perkins Loan? Serving time in the Peace Corps could earn you a large dissolution on the amount due on your loan. Serving the traditional two years qualifies you for partial loan cancellation. Extending your stay to four years can earn you a discount of up to 70% off your Perkins Loan.
If being a world traveler in the Peace Corps wasn’t on your agenda, joining the Americorps program can give you the same sense of service. While volunteering in Americorps, you will receive not only a stipend of $12,530, but an education allotment of $5,775. To be eligible to collect these incentives, you must serve full time and serve at least one full term (a year) in Americorps. These funds can be used to pay off qualified student loans or put towards future college expenses.
SponsorChange is a very unique organization that exchanges your volunteer time and puts it towards helping pay your student loans. Before SponsorChange, finding time to volunteer and work to pay off your student loans seemed nearly impossible. Now, as the organization takes off, it is possible to put your time and effort into causes you feel passionate about while still getting to trim down the amount on your student loans.
Zerobound is a program similar to SponsorChange. Volunteers will receive various amounts from donors to help pay off their student loans while volunteering towards a cause of their choice. The exact value given to the volunteer is determined by the donor. The company is still in its beginning phase, so now is one of the best possible times to join. This program is yet again not a grant, but a fantastic chance to earn funds to help pay off loans while getting to give back to communities and other organizations.
Givling is a trivia website that allows people to be eligible to earn money to pay their student loans back. When you create an account, you begin answering questions and can possibly have your loans paid for. Kevin Foster, a user of Givling and a graduate of Manhattan Christian College, had all of his loans paid for through the site. He owed $32,000 and had them all repaid by simply answering a few trivia questions. The website has taken off and now has quite a few users, making the grand prize a bit more difficult to receive.
You Can Find a Way
Though there may not be any official grants to pay off student loans, there are programs that are nearly the same thing. Reaching out and using these resources can help greatly ease your financial constraints to repay your student loans. Finding a solution for you and your specific situation is possible. Keep your mind open to payment plans or volunteering to earn finances to help pay back loans. There are many ways to find help with student loans; there is a solution for you, and finding it is possible.