Despite student loan balances in the United States hitting an all-time high of 1.4 trillion — in the recently released federal budget, the President has proposed to eliminate the public service loan forgiveness program, which aims to help people such as school teachers, firefighters, police officers and health researchers get out from underneath a mountain of student debt after 10 years of service and on time payments.
Given the uncertainty surrounding this program, are there any other options out there for people looking for help with their student loans?
There certainly are! One program that hasn’t hit the chopping block (yet) is the teacher loan forgiveness program. This program allows qualified math and science teachers to receive up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness in exchange for teaching in a low-income school for 5 years.
If you work in a low-income school, but don’t teach math or science you might still be eligible for up to $5,000 in loan forgiveness too. It’s a great idea to take a look to see if you qualify.
Is there any hope if you’re in public service, but you’re not a teacher?
Absolutely, there are a number of loan forgiveness programs for people who serve the country in the military.
The Army and the Navy, for example, have programs that will pay up to $65,000 in student loans over three years for active duty service members.
Members of the National Guard can qualify for up to $50,000 over six years of service.
And, if you are a health care professional in the military you could really score a big benefit with up to $120,000 in loan forgiveness over three years!
So there are definitely opportunities for our military service members to have their loans fully or partially forgiven.
So if I don’t teach and I’m not in the military, are there any options for me?
Yes, most people think that you can only get student loan assistance if you work in the public sector, but there are options for people in other professions as well, even for professionals like accountants and attorneys.
The first thing you should do is check to see if your state offers any programs.
In Pennsylvania for example, the PA Department of Health offers up to $100,000 to physicians and dentists who make a commitment to practice in underserved communities.
The Pennsylvania Bar Foundation had a loan forgiveness program for attorneys who provide free legal advice to disadvantaged citizens.
Programs will vary from state to state, so you’ll have to do a little homework to see what’s offered in your neck of the woods.
And lastly, even well known companies are starting to jump on the student loan forgiveness bandwagon.
A few years ago, the huge accounting firm Price Waterhouse Coopers started a loan forgiveness program where eligible workers can receive $100/month toward their student loan payment for up to 6 years, and more than 8,000 employees are already taking advantage of the program.
Other notable employers such as Fidelity, Aetna and Staples also have programs, and they’ve started these programs to help attract and retain talented employees.
So, if you’re in the market for a new position, be sure to inquire as to whether the company has a student loan forgiveness program before you sign on the dotted line.
Where can we find more information?
I know so many people are struggling under the weight of their student loans and all of these options can be confusing and hard to find, so I’ve created a free e-book on my website with a list of all of these programs and more.
Everyone in the audience can find this free resource at: http://www.robwilson.tv/studentloans
Deemed “hip-hop’s financial advisor” Rob Wilson boasts a roster of high-profile athletes and celebrities. The Pittsburgh-based independent financial and investment guru is founder of the financial advisory firm Wilson Insight and is a frequent contributor to CNN, CBS, NBC and Fox.
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