Top 4 Ways to Get Out of Student Loan Debt

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Are you looking better ways to pay off your student loans? College students today are taking on more student loans than ever before as the cost of college keeps rising year after year. Student loans can be both a “good” and “bad” form of debt. On the “good” side, student loans typically have lower interest rates than other forms of debt, and the student loans are (hopefully) enabling you to get a college degree that will help you earn significantly more money over the course of your lifetime than you would have earned without going to college. But on the “bad” side, student loans can never be discharged due to bankruptcy. Even if you have financial difficulty in your life, you have to repay your student loans.

So what is a heavily indebted college graduate supposed to do? Are there any better ways to pay off your student loans?

Fortunately, there are a few unique programs that – if you qualify – will make it possible to pay off your student loans with income-based repayment, or get student loan forgiveness for pursuing a particular career. Here is more information on how to pay off student loans faster with some of these programs.

Income-Based Student Loan Repayment

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One of the risks of taking on student loans is: “What if I can’t get a job that pays well enough to repay my student loans?” Some students have a hard time finding a good job after graduation, or they choose to go into a career field that is personally rewarding but not very financially lucrative. If you’re having trouble paying your student loans, you might want to consider applying for an income-based student loan repayment program. The federal government’s Income-Based Repayment (IBR) plan offers a few advantages:

  • Under this repayment plan, your student loan payment is only 15% of your qualifying monthly discretionary income.

  • Your monthly student loan payment will usually be lower than it is under other plans. For example, with an IBR payment, your monthly student loan debt payment is guaranteed to never be more than the amount you would normally pay as part of a 10-year Standard Repayment Plan.

  • Your student loan monthly payment is based on income and family size, and gets adjusted each year based on changes to your annual income and family size – so if your family gets bigger and your income gets smaller, your monthly student loan payment might get smaller (and more affordable) along with your changing finances.

Not all types of student loans, and not all borrowers, qualify for the IBR plan. For more details, and to find out if you qualify and how to apply, check out this website on the federal Income-Based Repayment plan. 

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

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If you work in a qualifying “public service” career, and your student loan payments are high relative to your income, you might be able to get some of your student loan debt forgiven by the government. With the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, after you have made 120 full monthly payments (10 years’ worth), and if you follow the rules and guidelines of the program, you can qualify to have your remaining student loan debt forgiven. What are some of the types of public service careers that this program applies to? Full details are on this website, but the list includes teaching, military service, public safety, law enforcement, public interest law, working for state, local or federal government agencies, or working for a nonprofit organization. 

Student Loan Forgiveness for Other Professions

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If you want to career in a health profession, or as a teacher, there are special loan repayment programs and scholarships available for people who want to work in an under-served area. For example, many rural areas have a severe shortage of doctors, dentists and nurses, and they have special grants and scholarships available to repay student loans for health professionals who agree to work there. There are also loan repayment programs and scholarships for teachers, depending on the state or local school district.

Here are online directories of student loan forgiveness and scholarship programs for medical professionals and teachers, with state-specific information and websites included:

Medical Directory of Loan Repayment/Forgiveness Scholarship Programs

Student Loan Forgiveness for Teachers