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Five Ways to Get Your Student Loan Debt Forgiven

Mar 24, 2008 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 1 Comments

Student loan debt can have an effect on the job you choose when you graduate college. You may want to travel the world, volunteer, or get a job in public service—but your student loans need to be repaid.  When it comes to choosing between meaningful or lucrative work, many students with heavy debt don’t have a choice.

Student loan debt can make it impossible for qualified graduates to choose jobs in nonprofits, low-income areas, and public service.  Fortunately, there are a few programs that will pay back your loans if you choose to go into a career that’s worthwhile—but not necessarily high-paying.   Here are a few of your options for student loan forgiveness.


Teachers who work in low-income areas for five consecutive years can get their Federal Perkins loans reimbursed up to 100%.  You’re eligible if you teach in a low-income area; if you teach special education; or if you teach math, science, foreign languages, or bilingual education in a state where there is a shortage of teachers in those subjects.  You can learn more about the program by checking out the federal student aid website, Student Aid on the Web.

You can also get your FFEL or Direct Loan Program debt repaid up to an amount of $17,500 under similar conditions.  Visit Student Aid on the Web to learn more.

See Also: Online Teaching Degrees

Work as a nurse or doctor

Nurses are eligible for forgiveness of 60% of their eligible loans if they work full-time in a facility with a shortage of nursing care for two years; if they work in a shortage area for three years, they may also qualify for an additional 25%.  This loan forgiveness program is available for those with an Associate’s, Bachelor’s, graduate degree, or nursing diploma.  If this interests you, you can find nursing jobs for new grads online. For more information on the Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program, visit the HRSA website.

Some states and even individual hospitals have forgiveness programs for nurses and doctors working in specific areas.  Visit the AAMC website for a searchable database of loan repayment programs for health professionals by state.  In addition, check out the National Guard’s reimbursement program for healthcare professionals.  It offers up to $50,000 in tuition reimbursement for qualifying medical workers who join.

See Also: Online Medical Degrees

Work for the government

If you work for the government as a nurse, firefighter, social worker, law enforcement officer, librarian, public safety or public health worker, lawyer, or in a variety of other public service positions, you may be eligible to have your federal loans repaid after ten years on the job.  The College Cost Reduction and Access Act will repay the balance of government employees’ student loans after 120 consecutive payments have been made, starting in October 2007.  Check out the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators’ website for more information.

See Also: Online Public Service Administration Degrees

Join the National Guard

The National Guard will repay up to $20,000 in student loan debt for those who join after college.  They’ll also pay up to 100% of your full tuition costs if you join while you’re in college.  For more information, check out the National Guard website.


If you spend some time with the Peace Corps, Americorps, or Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), you can get your student loans forgiven.  The Peace Corps offers 15% off your Perkins loans for the first two years you serve and 20% off for each of the second two years, up to 70% of the total amount of the loan over a four-year period.  Americorps and VISTA offer $4,725 towards your student loans in return for a year of service.

This is only an overview of the funding out there for student loan forgiveness programs.  Check with your state financial aid office, your school, and possibly your employer to find out about other options that may be available to you.  With these programs, you may not have to choose between following your dreams and repaying your student loans.




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Student loan relief it must be either in the six month elegance period following college or currently in repayment and current with the current loan provider. Not all loans can be mixed and federal loans must be kept individual from private loans.

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