According to statistics, student loan debt in the U.S. totals $1.73 trillion and continues to grow six times faster than the nation’s economy. On average, 43.2 million students in the U.S. have an average student loan debt of $39,351 each.
Student loans are a must when it comes to paying for college. However, paying them off on time can become challenging, especially with tight due dates and high interest rates.
Fortunately, applying for certain public service jobs can help you become debt-free through the public service student loan forgiveness program.
Public service loan forgiveness “forgives” the remaining balance on any of your federal Direct Loans after you have made 120 qualifying monthly payments while working for a qualified employer. Under the public service loan forgiveness (PSLF) program, you need to work for any U.S. federal, local, state, or tribal government agencies to get out of your student loan debt.
For you to benefit from the PSLF, you need to work full-time or at least 30 hours per week for a qualified employer and use an income-driven repayment plan. These plans provide a monthly payment system based on your income and qualify you for an extension of up to 25 years on your repayment term.
Below is a list of public service jobs that qualify for student loan forgiveness. Learn more about these jobs and weigh the pros and cons of each so you can choose the right one for you.
If federal agencies have a hard time looking for qualified individuals to fill vacant positions, they will offer student loan repayment assistance.
To work as a federal agent employee, you need to sign a contract that requires you to render services to the agency for at least three years. Federal agencies can pay up to $10,000 a year for an employee for federally insured loans, but the total financial assistance cannot exceed $60,000.
Under the Specialty Equipment Market Association or SEMA Loan Forgiveness Program, 97 qualified individuals were awarded $272,000 in loan forgiveness and scholarships in 2019 alone.
To qualify for the program, you need to be a SEMA employee for at least one year, have at least a 2.5 GPA, and be a degree or certificate holder from a technical school or college.
If you teach in a low-income student district, work as a special education teacher, work in an area with teacher shortages, or work in unemployed subject areas, you can qualify for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program.
Once you qualify for the program, you can receive up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness, depending on the number of years of service and the subject matter you teach. However, to qualify for the program, your student loan must be a Direct Loan.
Dentists are some of the country’s highest-earning professionals — with an annual salary of $164,010 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — but they also accrue several debts even before they enter the industry.
If you plan on becoming a dentist someday, you can take advantage of several loan repayment assistance programs, such as the Maryland Dent-Care Loan Assistance Repayment Program and the Ohio Dentist Loan Repayment Program to pay off your student loan debts.
Student loan forgiveness programs have different eligibility requirements, so take your time to do your research before you pursue any of these public service jobs. However, if you’re able to take advantage of PSLF, it will put you on a path towards financial freedom.