College fees can cost an arm and a leg, and sometimes you might require financial assistance to foot your education expenses. Grants, scholarships, and government student loans are among the choices available for paying your college fees. Government student loans attract a low-interest rate, making it among the best options for financing your education. Unlike other loans, you do not need a co-signer or excellent credit to qualify. It also buys you more time to sort out your repayment plan before you fall out of track.
With all those benefits available, paying off a student loan can still be a burden. Statistics show that 21% of Americans are struggling to pay off their student loans. If you are struggling to balance between bills and repayment of student loans, relief could come in handy. Depending on where you work, your student loan can be forgiven, or you can get them paid off with a grant. Here are the available options.
1. Grant programs for people in careers
Also known as career-based grants are programs that provide funds to people who qualify in different fields on a national level. Colleges and state authorities give the grants. If you need help with the repayment of your student loan, do more research on this grant, focusing on your professional field.
Healthcare professionals can approach the National Health Service Corps, the most popular program for professionals in the medical field. IHS Loan Repayment Program and Nurse Corps Loan Repayment are the other options for healthcare professionals.
Grant programs for lawyers include the Department of Justice Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program, John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program, and Herbert S. Garten Loan Repayment Assistance Program. These programs have different requirements, and you might want to look into it. Note that most law schools offer loan forgiveness for their graduates who serve in the public sector.
Teachers and researchers are also among the professionals that get grants to clear their student loans. Explore deeper to get information on the grant that best suits your line of professional practice.
2. Grants for non-profit
These grants are designed for volunteers and people working for non-profit organizations such as Teach for America, Peace Corps, and AmeriCorps. Such organizations’ employees and volunteers qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) grant program.
3. Federal student loan forgiveness
Unlike other state loan grants, this one is not limited to a person’s professional career. These programs include the Perkins Loan Cancellation, where the government discharges your loan under specified circumstances. For instance, your loan can be discharged and canceled in case of death, disability, loan acquired via identity theft and bankruptcy, among many other factors. You can qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) depending for whom you work. In addition, the following also play a factor, your job title, after ten years of repayment, or if you have made over 120 payments.
Income-Driven Repayment Plan Forgiveness is another option where your payment is structured as a percentage of your income. After a while, about 20 years, your student loan is forgiven. However, you are required to pay taxes on the forgiven amount.
4. Grant programs for military members
This program caters to military members and their families. There are about four different types of these programs. Health Professions Student Loan Repayment Program is specifically for health professionals who are enlisted in the army. There is the Army Loan Repayment Program that forgives loans by students who went to college and later joined the military. On the other hand, Army Reserve College Loan Repayment Program offers student loan forgiveness for people who agree to serve for six years.
5. State-based grant programs
There are about five state-based student loan forgiveness programs, and they are tied to different professions. The grants also come in varying amounts depending on the state. It is vital to look up the grants available in your state and the application process to know whether you qualify for the loan. An excellent example of these programs is the North Dakota Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Student Loan Grant, which gives $1,500 to $6,000 to people working in STEM in this state. Ensure that you look deeper into this to get a forgiveness program that will help clear your loan size.
6. Veterinarian grant program
If you took a loan to complete your studies in a vet-school, there is something for you. However, you must be willing to work for three years in a location where there is a shortage of veterinarians for you to get the grant.
The Veterinary Medical Loan Repayment Program offers up to $25,000 per year towards veterinarian student loans.
How to get a student loan grant
1. Find a grant that fits your needs
Do your homework and research to find a student loan grant that caters for your loan forgiveness needs. While there are different types of grants, they are tied to various professional fields and have different requirements. Some employers offer grants for student loans: you might want to check with them too.
After pointing out the loan that best fits you, fill in an application for the loan (you will find it on the programs’ websites.) Different programs will ask for different information, be keen, and accurately provide all the required information to qualify.
Most grants will ask for information such as proof of employment, legal identification, the name of the university you attended, and proof that you graduated from the university.
Just like most student loans, grants are usually awarded in cycles. This means that they all have due dates. You might want to keep a keen eye on that to avoid missing the opportunity. Applying early in the cycle will also put you at an advantage as the grants usually have limited funds towards the end of the cycle. Do not let a student loan take a toll on your finances if you qualify for any of the grants listed above.