The cost of higher education keeps climbing. Since 2004-2005, average college tuition in the U.S. has grown by over 35% to a total of $9,500 in the 2014-2015 school year. While there are many opportunities to receive grants, scholarships, and relatively affordable loans to finance a college education, there are also a number of loan forgiveness programs that can help to erase debt after you've graduated. Here are some of the best loan forgiveness options available.
Many areas of the country need high quality teachers, particularly schools with students who fall into low income brackets. If you teach at one of these schools or at educational service agencies for five consecutive years, you may be eligible for up to $17,500 worth of complete forgiveness on Federal Stafford Loans. PLUS loans are not eligible for forgiveness under this program.
While the forgiveness of Federal Stafford Loans is limited to teachers, theforgiveness of Federal Perkins Loans is more expansive, and broadly includes educators. Perkins Loans can be 100% forgiven if you elect to become a school librarian, an employee at a child or family-centered agency, a staff member at a Head Start program, pre-kindergarten, or childcare program, or a school speech pathologist, special education teacher, or full-time teacher. Most of these programs require you to work in a low-income school, remain a teacher for a certain number of years, and some also carry specific education requirements, such as a master's degree.
3. ARMED FORCES
If you are considering joining the military, there are loan forgiveness opportunities for you. Should you serve in a hostile fire or imminent danger area, you may be eligible for forgiveness of your Federal Perkins Loans. If your active service ended on or before August 14, 2008, you can receive up to 50% loan forgiveness. If your service began after or includes August 14, 2008, you may receive up to 100% loan forgiveness.
4. FIREFIGHTERS OR LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS
Should you feel called to protect your city by becoming a firefighter, law enforcement officer, or corrections officer, you may be able to receive up to 100% forgiveness of your Federal Perkins Loans.
5. NURSES OR MEDICAL TECHNICIANS
Nurses and medical technicians across the country are in short supply. In less than 10 years, the nursing field is expected to increase job openingsby 19%. Full-time nurses and medical technicians can be awarded up to 100% loan forgiveness of their Federal Perkins Loans.
6. AMERICORPS VISTA OR PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEERS
Many young college graduates feel a compelling call to serve in a volunteer capacity in the U.S. or overseas. If you fall into that category, there are two programs that would help you to gain up to 70% loan forgiveness of your Federal Perkins Loans: AmeriCorps VISTA is a volunteer program for students who want to serve in vulnerable areas in the U.S. The Peace Corps is a storied program that pairs American volunteers with sites abroad in developing nations.
7. EARLY INTERVENTION SERVICES OF THE DISABLED
There are many nonprofit and government organizations that seek to provide critical and early intervention services for the disabled. If you work for one of these organizations, you may be eligible to receive up to 100% forgiveness on your Federal Perkins Loans.
8. FULL-TIME FACULTY AT A TRIBAL COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY
The U.S. Department of Education has designated certain colleges and universities as tribal colleges. This means that these colleges and universities are primarily focused on educating U.S. citizens who are American Indians and Alaskan Natives. Full-time faculty members at these schools can receive up to 100% forgiveness of Perkins Loans.
Receiving a college education today is now an expensive proposition for just about everyone. Luckily, these loan forgiveness programs provide options to finance your education while also helping you to make a meaningful and lasting impact in a community that needs your skills and talents.