Student loans are a form of debt that can linger for many years after you have finished college. If you perform qualified volunteer work, serve in the military or teach in a low-income school district, you may qualify for loan forgiveness on your federal student loans. By taking advantage of these programs, you can enter your career with virtually no debt. This allows you to fully enjoy the fruits of your education or free up funds to further your learning experience through graduate school.
Participate in a volunteer program that qualifies you for loan forgiveness. These include working with the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps or Volunteers in Service to America. Service times range from 1,700 hours to 2 years, depending on the program you choose. You will earn $4,725 for AmeriCorps and Volunteers in Service to America, and up to 70 percent of your loan amount for the Peace Corps.
Apply for loan forgiveness through the volunteer organization. For the Volunteers in Service to America program, call (800) 942-2677; for Peace Corps, call (800) 424-8580; for AmeriCorps, call (800) 942-2677.
Serve in the military. Each branch of the military offers student loan repayment, ranging from $10,000 for the National Guard and Air Force to $65,000 for the Navy and Army. Apply for this loan forgiveness through the recruiting office of your branch of the military.
Teach full-time in a school that services low-income families. This may earn you up to 30 percent loan forgiveness on your Perkins Loan and up to $5,000 in loan forgiveness on your Stafford Loan.
Fill out the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Application to apply for teacher loan forgiveness. Have this form certified by the chief administrative officers from the schools in which you taught, and submit a copy of the form to each loan holder.
Always talk to the financial aid department at your school about other options for loan forgiveness outside of these common ones. Some schools participate in local programs to help their students seek loan forgiveness.
Before entering the military or participating in volunteer work, make sure you fully understand how much of your loans will be forgiven, and weigh this against the time commitment required from the work. Make sure you are using your time to the best of your ability.