3 Lesser-Known Ways to Get Help Paying Off Your Student Loans

Make sure you explore all your options for loan forgiveness—including these lesser-known programs.

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When you're thousands of dollars in debt because you borrowed to fund your education, it’s important to explore any possible sources of help you can get. And there are two pretty well-known sources of aid: Public Service Loan Forgiveness for those who work for the government or a qualifying not-for-profit, and forgiveness after making 20 or 25 years worth of payments on an income-driven plan.

These aren't your only options for student loan forgiveness, though. In fact, there are a whole bunch of other programs out there you might be able to take advantage of depending on where you live, where you work, and what your profession is. To help you get started, check out these three common sources of aid for student borrowers.

So what do they know, and how can you follow their lead to make your next transition not only more quickly, but more successfully as well? Do what they do:

1. State-Based Loan Forgiveness Repayment

Many different states offer the chance at loan forgiveness, generally to people who work in professions that serve the public. For example, Illinois actually has four different programs: one for teachers, one for public defenders or prosecutors, one for nurse educators, and one for medical providers who work in veterans' homes.

Repayment assistance from your state will depend on where you live and what kind of work you do. In general, state programs aim to provide help to those who have jobs that serve the public, such as teachers, public defenders or prosecutors, and medical professionals working in areas where there is a healthcare shortage or helping underserved populations.

You can find out about state-based forgiveness options by checking in with your local department of education. Your state may also have an agency, department or organization specifically aimed at helping people secure school financing, such as New York's Higher Education Services Corporation.

2. The Federal Student Loan Repayment Program

Government work is not the only thing to make you eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness; you could also take advantage of the federal student loan repayment program. This program permits various agencies to provide loan repayment help to incentivize employees to come and work for them. Qualifying employees can get up to a maximum of $10,000 per year in repayment assistance, with an aggregate total limit of $60,000 for each worker.

Many different federal agencies offer access to this program, including the FBI and CIA. The specific amount of repayment assistance available, and guidelines for eligibility, depend on which federal agency or department you work for. You can ask about this job benefit when interviewing for or accepting a position with the federal government.

3. Job-Based Loan Forgiveness Options

There are tons of different loan forgiveness programs for people in specific jobs—as long as the work involves providing help for the public in some capacity. The money for these programs can come from federal or state funding or from private sources of funds.

If you're doing work that benefits the public good, check with any professional organizations within your field to find a list of job-based forgiveness options. Some examples include the following:

  • The American Bar Association student loan forgiveness resources
  • Military.com's list of options for members of the armed forces
  • The American Academy of Family Physicians guide to loan forgiveness options for medical school debt

These are just a few examples of different jobs that could enable you to qualify for loan forgiveness if you're working to help underserved populations or are employed by an organization that otherwise does good for people.

Make Sure You Explore All of Your Options for Loan Forgiveness

If you have student debt, you know what a struggle it can be to make your payments each month, and you probably find it hard to imagine that you'll ever be free of this financial burden.

But there are programs out there that can help you—you just need to research them. Check with your state's department of education or with professional organizations in your field. Hopefully, you'll find some options that will give you some relief from your loans and make payback easier.

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