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What Student Loan Forgiveness is and How You Can Get it

If you have student loans, chances are you’re familiar with the term forgiveness. When you get forgiveness of a loan, it means you no longer have to pay back the full loan. There are quite a few ways in which you can get student loan forgiveness for federal loans. We’re going to touch upon a few of the ways you can earn this forgiveness.

One of the downsides of student loan forgiveness is that you typically need to have the right concoction of a repayment plan, a job, and a financial institution in order to qualify for student loan forgiveness. According to the U.S. Department of Education, only 39% of the current student loan portfolio qualifies for forgiveness.

One of the more popular ways to do this is through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness, where you can work your way out of a loan by working full time in public service. You can also earn forgiveness through volunteering, working in the Army, or repayment programs based on your income.

Below are several ways in which you can get student loan forgiveness based on your individual skills and qualifications.

State-Based Student Loan Forgiveness

Depending on which state you live in, you might be eligible for a student loan repayment program. Let’s take a look at a few examples below:


Alabama is one of the only states in the U.S. that does not offer a student loan repayment program.


Maine offers five student loan repayment programs, which include Educators for Maine, Maine Health Professionals Loan Program Forgiveness, Maine Veterinary Medicine Loan Program Forgiveness, Maine Dental Education Loan Repayment Program, and Maine Bar Foundation Loan Repayment Assistant Program.


Pennsylvania has two student loan forgiveness programs, which include the Pennsylvania Primary Care Loan Repayment Program and the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation.


Vermont has five student loan forgiveness programs, which include the Vermont Educational Loan Program for Primary Care Practitioners​, the Vermont Educational Loan Program for Nurses, the Vermont Educational Loan Program for Dentists, the Vermont Educational Loan Repayment for Nurse Educators/Faculty and the Vermont Bar Foundation Loan Repayment Assistance Program.


Washington has one student loan forgiveness program, the Health Professional Loan Repayment Program.

Army Active Duty Health Professions Student Loan Repayment Program

In order to initially qualify for this, you have to have a Direct Loan. By practicing dentistry or medicine while in service, you’ll get a student loan repayment of up to $120,000 over the course of three years.  If you’re a qualified health professional and have a skill in a shortage area of the U.S. military, then you could qualify for this forgiveness program.

Volunteering Based Student Loan Forgiveness

In order to qualify for one of these loans, you have to have a Direct Loan. You can earn student loan forgiveness by volunteering – but not through volunteering at a food drive or charity shop. You’ll typically have to volunteer for one year and as many hours as a full-time job. There are a couple of ways in which you can do this.

Sponsor Change

You’ll volunteer at an organization that receives donor sponsorship. This will give you student loan forgiveness.

AmeriCorps Education Award

By volunteering with AmeriCorps National and State, AmeriCorps NCCC or AmeriCorps VISTA for 12 months, you have the chance to earn some student loan forgiveness, usually upwards of $5,500.

Specific Field

Legal Studies

If you’re a law student, then this will apply to you! If you serve for a non-profit or in the interest of the public, law schools may forgive your student loans or lower your interest rates on your loans.

Nurse Studies

If you’re a nurse, you have a few options for student loan forgiveness. The NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program pays up college nurse’s debt up to 85%. You can also check out the Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness and the Perkins Loan Cancellation.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness

If you’re a teacher and employed in a low-income public-school full time, then you may qualify for loan forgiveness. You must work for five consecutive years and up to $17,500 in debt.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

If you’re a nonprofit employee or government employee (federal, local, state, or tribal level) with federal student loans, then you may qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness. After you make 120 loan payments – ten years – that pass qualification, you can have the remaining balance forgiven. You’ll need to be employed full time with an average of at least 30 hours per week.

Income Based Repayment

In order to qualify for the Income Based Repayment program, you’ll have to either have a Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFEL) Loan or Direct Loan.  You also have to have a high debt-to-income ratio – which means you’re spending at least half of your monthly income on debt. The balance on your student loans will be forgiven after 25 years. The payments are adjusted based on your income and family size.

Perkins Loans

The Perkins Loan is a loan that’s given based on your financial need. If you have a federal Perkins Loan and work in a public service job for five years, then you might qualify to have your Perkins Loan canceled.

Now that we’ve reviewed what student loan forgiveness is and how it works, you might have a better understanding of how you can get student loan forgiveness. If you’re a teacher or studied law or medicine, there are certain ways in which you can qualify for student loan forgiveness. Additionally, volunteering at AmeriCorps or at a Sponsor Change will help you get student loan forgiveness. Repayment can also be based off of your income or how many years you work for places like a service job or area of the U.S. Military.

There are so many opportunities for loan forgiveness! If you’ve been struggling to make ends meet because you’re swarming in a debt you can’t pay off, then take a look at some of these programs to help you pay off your debt so you can put money towards things you love and towards other areas of your life.

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