If you borrowed money to go to college and need help paying it back, you may want to look into grants to pay off student loans. There are a few options available, each with its own guidelines, so it is important to do the research at reputable sites. Let’s take look at a few of the programs to money to pay off student loans.
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLFG)
Consider government grants to pay off student loans. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLFG) was created by Congress in 2007 to attract graduates to the public service sector. Individuals who meet the program guidelines can have a portion of their federal student loans forgiven if employed in a public service position.
It is important to note that only loans funded by the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program are eligible for PSLFG. If you have other types of student loans, it may be possible to consolidate them to meet PSLFG guidelines. However, there are additional rules that apply. Details are available at the website.
There are various volunteer programs that can serve as grants to pay off student loans. Two of the most popular programs are:
- Peace Corps While the Peace Corps won’t directly give you money to pay off your student loans, it will apply part of your monthly allowance to your debt.
- AmeriCorps You may qualify for a loan forbearance by volunteering for AmeriCorps. Volunteering with AmeriCorps may also qualify you for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program described above.
Numerous schools in the US are designated as low-income schools. Education majors who teach in one of these schools can apply for a portion of their Perkins Loan to be forgiven for each year of teaching service. Check with your local school district for more information.
- Years 1 and 2: 15%
- Years 3 and 4: 20%
- Year 5: 30%
The Association of American Medical Colleges provides information about loan forgiveness programs for health care professionals who work at qualifying locations.
Equal Justice Works is a non-profit organization that fights for legal representation for those who cannot afford it. Their site has information about loan forgiveness programs for individuals in the legal profession.
NIH Loan Repayment Programs (LRPs)
Qualified research scientists can receive up to $35,000 each year from The NIH Loan Repayment Programs (LRPs). There are 5 extramural programs with varying requirements. However, all applicants must agree to spend at least 50% of their work schedule performing NIH research. Go to the website for information about each of the specific programs. The application process is completed electronically from September 1 through December 1 each year.
National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Program (NASSGAP)
The National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Program (NASSGAP) is a student grant clearinghouse terrific resource. Financial aid programs from various institutions join NASSGAP so that their programs can be promoted on a national basis. NASSGAP has stringent standards for evaluating student grants and makes the information available publicly.
If you don’t qualify for any of grants to pay off student loans, you still have options to make repayment easier.
- Graduated payments
With a graduated payment plan, your payments are smaller in the beginning and gradually increase, usually every two years. The plan is for people who expect their income to grow over time, making it easier to take on larger payments.
- Accelerated payments
If you have extra money in your paycheck, you can apply it to your loan by paying a little more each month. The reason this is a good option is that it reduces the amount of interest you will pay over the life of the loan. Interest payments can be very high, so shortening your loan can save you a lot of money in the long run. Make sure you tell the bank to apply the extra payment to the principle.
When unemployment or other economic hardship makes it difficult for you to repay your loan, you can apply for a deferment. A deferment puts your repayment on hold temporarily although your loan may accrue interest. The guidelines for qualification can vary although they usually include graduate students and members of a residency program.
For individuals with more than one federal loan, consolidation can be a wise option. Combining your loans may lower your interest rate.
There are many ways to find grant money to pay off student loans if you know the right places to look. Investigate some of the places on this list and you should be able to find the help you are looking for.