The idea of your student loans magically being forgiven may seem like someone should pinch you — you must be dreaming, right? You will never have your student loan debt disappear before your eyes, but there are ways of getting your student loans forgiven.
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
You may have heard about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program offered by the federal government to forgive loans for public service employees after ten years of public service (and consistent loan payments). The requirements seem simple enough:
- You must have made 120 payments.
- You must have worked full-time in the government sector or in a 501(c)3 organization for 10 years.
- You cannot be in default on your loan.
Planning to use the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program can be difficult. It means that you'll have to stay in the service of the government or a nonprofit organization for (at least) ten years, making loan payments the entire time.
Work for the government as long as you wish, but don't stay in a job if you no longer enjoy it, especially if you find a better-paying job in the private sector. Follow all the rules to qualify, just in case you do stay on in a government or 501(c)3 position for 10 years. (As of this writing, there isn't a way you sign up beforehand. You just fill out the paperwork after you've completed your ten years.)
Visit the Federal Student Aid Web site for more information about and the current qualifications for this program.
Additional loan forgiveness programs
Public service loan forgiveness is only the tip of the loan forgiveness iceberg. There are numerous other programs that may give you money to pay off your student loans. Unfortunately, though, some of these programs could melt before you get a chance to use them, such as state programs that rely on the money being available in your state's budget. Other programs, though not necessarily loan forgiveness programs, are better bets because you can get the money up front, such as companies you work for that will pay for your tuition ahead of time or offer semester-by-semester reimbursement when you return to school, making it easy to take out a loan and be reimbursed within a few months.