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Loan Forgiveness Programs

All too often, students find that their dream career does not correspond with their dream salary. While concerns about finances should not get in the way of pursuing your college goals, the thought of being burdened with huge amounts of student loan debt can easily sway college and career choices. Before you give up on your dream college or career, though, be aware that there are a range of student loan forgiveness programs out there that can actually reward you for doing what you love.


One of the most universally accepted truths about education is that no one does it for the pay. States realize this, and in exchange for working in a public school, you can see a large portion of your federal student loan debt, including Stafford Loans and Perkins Loans, forgiven or cancelled after only a few years of work. Teacher loan forgiveness programs exist at both the state and federal level. To find out if your state offers teacher loan forgiveness, you should check with your college’s education department or visit your state board of education’s website. There are two federal loan forgiveness and loan cancellation options for teachers.

The Federal Perkins Loan Teacher Cancellation Program will discharge up to 100 percent of the Federal Perkins Loans you have borrowed if you teach in a school serving low-income families, teach special education, or teach in a state-designated subject shortage area. This program is primarily for teachers in public elementary and secondary schools, but some private school and preschool teachers may also qualify. The first two years of full-time teaching will result in 15 percent of your total Perkins Loan amount being forgiven each year. This amount increases to 20 percent in the third and fourth years and the remaining 30 percent will be forgiven after your fifth year of teaching. In addition, teachers who qualify can also receive a deferment of loan payments while they are teaching; effectively meaning they won’t have to make a single payment on their Perkins Loans.

Teachers can also see a significant portion of their Stafford Loans forgiven under the federal Stafford Loan Forgiveness Program for Teachers. Highly qualified full-time elementary or secondary school teachers can receive up to $5,000 in undefinedStafford Loan forgiveness if they teach for five years at a designated low-income school that qualifies for Title I funding. Teachers may receive up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness if they meet the above requirements and teach secondary math and science or special education at any level.

Healthcare Professionals

The nation is facing a huge shortage of nurses and other qualified healthcare professionals, despite generally decent salaries in the field. Medical professions also require years of education in demanding programs, and often the effort needed is so intense that students can’t work outside of their studies. As a result, nurses and other healthcare professionals often graduate with significant amounts student loan debt, which can deter them from going into fields where nursing shortages are most critical. To help counter this, a variety of loan forgiveness programs for nurses and healthcare professionals exist at the state and national level.

The Federal Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program is the most prominent. It repays up to 60 percent of the eligible loan balance for qualified registered nurses who are employed full-time for two years at a critical shortage facility. Qualified education loans include Nursing Student Loans, Federal Stafford Loans, and Supplemental Loans for Students. Loans must be obtained for nursing education.

Public Servants

Some of the most exciting news for altruistic students came in 2009, when a public service loan forgiveness program went into effect. Now, students who are planning to work for a non-profit or governmental organization can see their federal student loans completely forgiven after 10 years of service and affordable payments. Unlike other loan forgiveness programs, students must make 120 consecutive payments on their loans under one of a few specific loan repayment plans in the federal Direct Loans program to qualify. Eligible loans include subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford Loans, federal Perkins Loans, federal Nursing Loans and Health Professions Loans, and federal PLUS Loans for parents and graduate students.

Nearly every line of work not specifically in a for-profit sector is included under the umbrella of the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Employees of non-profit organizations, public and private colleges and universities, early childhood education facilities, and public libraries, to name just a few, can see their student loans forgiven under this program.

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