Did you know there are grants for paying off student loans? In some situations, going to school is the best decision you can make for your future. Getting a college education can be very valuable in many fields. Yet, it also creates student loan debt, and that debt can be hard to get rid of over time. Student loan grants could help to eliminate at least some of the financial struggles you are facing.
Do you meet the requirements to use them for your student loans? How do they work? Here’s what you need to know to pay off student loans.
What Are Grants for Student Loans?
In the news lately has been a lot of discussion about student loan forgiveness. It is something that many in government are pushing towards. Yet, there are other ways to pay off student loans, including utilizing grants.
Any type of student loan forgiveness is something worthy of looking into to protect your financial future. A grant is one form in which you apply for the grant, and if you receive approval for it, the grant directly pays off some of your student loan debt. You do not have to repay grants. That means you are lowering your student loan debt without having to pay a lot of money towards doing so.
How Can You Get Help with Your Student Loan Payments?
You can use grants to pay off student loans if you qualify for them. There are numerous types of grants available, each one offering different opportunities and qualifications. As a type of student loan forgiveness, you have to meet the qualifications the grant program sets.
There are many grant programs available on a national level. These are some of the largest student loan forgiveness programs, but you may be able to find grants in other ways, too. For example, your employer may offer to pay off student loan debt for you if you meet specific goals. You may find some organizations offer grant assistance for those who meet specific volunteer opportunities or other qualifications. In other words, you definitely want to check out all of the options for getting student loans forgiven available to you.
The largest student loan repayment programs and loan forgiveness programs are below. Some of these will apply to federal student loans you have and private student loans, but terms and conditions will change drastically from one program to the next.
Remember, too, that these are not a guarantee. Grants to pay for your student loans can be available if you meet requirements, but terms can change over time.
The most common types of grants for student loans include:
- Career-focused student loan forgiveness programs
- Nonprofit and volunteer student loan forgiveness
- Federal student loan forgiveness programs
- State-based student loan forgiveness programs
- Corporate employers student loan grants
- Military student loan forgiveness
To help you to find the options available to help you, we have created a list of the most common student loan grants, those designed to provide coverage to large groups of people on a federal level. If you obtain a student loan and then meet these qualifications, you may qualify for a grant that saves you money.
Career-Based Student Loan Grants
There are a wide range of career-based student loan grants available. If you go to school, enter the field, and then meet the requirements of the job, you may have your student debt eliminated. Here are a few examples.
Health Care Professionals
Several student loan forgiveness programs exist for healthcare professionals. This includes those who work as nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals, especially in critical environments. Medical or dental school costs could be much lower if you qualify for any of these tools as healthcare professionals.
National Health Service Corps
For example, the National Health Service Corps provides grants for people in the medical field. It provides a maximum award of up to $50,000. It can be used for both federal student loans and private student loans. You will need to work in the field and meet the requirements of the grant for at least two years. More so, this grant is not taxable income, which means you do not have to pay tax on the funds you receive. This is a loan repayment program.
A second option from the National Health Service Corps is designed for those who work in rural communities. It is a loan repayment program that can provide as much as $100,000 in student loan forgiveness for healthcare professionals who have worked in the field for at least three years. It can also cover both federal and private loans and is not taxable.
A third option from the National Health Service Corp is for those who work in substance use disorder areas. Here, you can be awarded up to $75,000 for three years of work in a high-need community.
Yet another option is the Student to Service loan repayment program. It provides up to $120,000 in loan repayment assistance to those who work in dental, medical, or nursing education. It offers that coverage to students in their final year of school. Students go on to provide services for three years serving communities that have limitations on availability to medical facilities or services.
National Institute of Mental Health
Individuals who work as mental health professionals and meet the requirements of the National Institute of Mental Health can apply for a grant of up to $100,000 to cover federal and student loans. You need to work in the industry for two years. This grant is considered taxable income.
Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program
There’s no doubt that nursing needs are high everywhere. The Nurse Corps loan repayment program aims to help by providing up to 60% of outstanding student loan balances as an award for those who work for at least two years in the field. It applies to both federal and private student loans, and it is also taxable income.
Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program
This loan repayment program from the Indian Health Service offers up to $40,000 in awards to those who work within the industry providing care to this select group, often in rural communities. It requires two years of service and applies to federal and private loans. It is taxable income. You will need to work in underserved Alaska Native or American Indian communities.
Grants for Teachers
Another area where you can find student loan grants is in the field of education. If you want to work as a teacher, you may wish to work towards qualifying for these career-based student loan grant programs. Teacher loan forgiveness or teacher student loan grants could help you reduce what you owe significantly.
Here are some examples of the student loan forgiveness programs available for teachers. Others may be available.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness
Its name is pretty clear! The Teacher Loan Forgiveness program requires individuals to work as a teacher in a low-income area for five years. If you do that, you can receive a student loan grant of $17,500 to cover some of your student loans, including the direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program is not just for teachers but for others who meet the requirements of working within the public sector. If that is where you plan to work, you could have as much as 100% of your direct student loans eliminated after 10 years of full-time work in the field. You will need to meet other qualifications, including making 120 on-time monthly payments. This type of student loan forgiveness is not considered taxable income.
Teacher Cancellation of Perkins Loan
For those who have Perkins Loans, a student loan repayment program may help if you have loans from prior to 2017 and have worked in a low income community. A percentage of your Perkins loan can be forgiven every year that you work in that space, which could eliminate 100% of your tuition costs over time.
For those that work as veterinarians or within the vet field, you may qualify for a federal student loan grant. While some employers and states may offer these veterinary student loan grants, one of the largest programs is through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). This program provides loan repayment assistance for up to $25,000 each year for a total grant of up to $75,000. To obtain this grant, you will need to work for at least three years in some type of paid veterinarian position in an underserved area.
To qualify to eliminate your veterinarian school debt, you have to attend a qualified veterinary school and have at least $15,000 in student loan debt. Do that, and you may have access to this grant money for qualifying student loans.
Attorney Grant Programs
If you have federal student loan debt from attending law school, you may be able to get some help from the federal government to reduce those costs. Law school loans can be very difficult to overcome, but there are repayment grants available that may be able to help you. Here are some grants to pay your federal loans if you are an attorney.
John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program
One of the most notable ways to get repayment grants for law school loans is through the use of the John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program. This type of financial aid can help you receive up to $10,000 each year over the span of as long as six years. The funds can be put towards your federal student loan debt, though they cannot be applied to parent PLUS loans.
To obtain this grant, you must meet service or employment requirements. That typically means working as a public defender or a state procedure for at least three years. This program is typically managed for qualifying student loans through the state.
Department of Justice Attorney Student Loan Repayment Programs
Another of the federal student loan debt grant programs for attorneys is from the Department of Justice. If you meet the qualifications here, you could receive a grant of up to $6,000 each year. This can continue for a maximum lifetime benefit of $60,000. To qualify, you must have at least $10,000 worth of federal student loan debt.
Herbert S. Garten Loan Repayment Assistance Program
The Herbert S. Garten Laon Repayment Assistance Program, often referred to as LRAP can also provide help for graduate students who are attorneys. It offers $5,600 in student loan assistance to those who have at least $75,000 in student loan debt. However, there are a number of qualifications, including financial criteria such as earning no more than $62,500 each year (you can earn more in Hawaii and Alaska and still qualify). You also have to work with one of the grantees that operate through LRAP. Also notable, this is a lottery system. That means that not everyone will have access to it, and there could be limitations that are extensive here.
For those who served in the U.S. Army, Navy, or any other Armed Forces branch, you may qualify for a military student loan relief program. Also note that if you served in the Armed Forces and wanted to attend college later, you may also qualify for military scholarships you can use to pay off your student loans.
There are a few key areas of opportunity for military professionals.
Military College Loan Repayment Program
If you are in the Army, you may qualify for military college loan repayment programs if you are active duty. The grants to pay for college here require that you enlist for at least three years. You also must have an Armed Service Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) score of at least 50. If you qualify for this, you can use the grants to pay for your student loans. It can provide as much as $65,000 in funding for federal student loans. This particular program is not available to those who need help paying off private student loans, though.
Each branch of the military offers a college loan repayment program, including the Army, Navy, Air Force, National Guard, Navy Reserve, Army Reserve, and Coast Guard. This type of student loan repayment assistance can prove very valuable to you over time.
Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant
The Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant is another tool available to some in the military. This program is designed to provide financial support for a parent that served in the military and died in either Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001. If you do not meet the Pell Grant requirements, you may be able to obtain this grant.
If available to you, it provides you with an award of up to $6,895 per year, though this figure can change.
Military Health Professionals
The Health Professions Loan Repayment Program is another way to reduce your student loan burden. It is available to those who are in the reserves or active duty. You could receive up to $40,000 to help cover your costs for up to three years. To qualify, you may have to work with specific health resources and medical providers.
There are a number of opportunities for those who work in volunteer and nonprofit organizations. As noted, PSLF is one of those options. If you are working in nonprofit organizations, you may be able to have 100% of your direct student loans erased after you spend 10 years serving the industry. This could be in areas like nurse faculty or doctor, but other types of services administration at the public level.
Also, look into options for grants from volunteer organizations. This could include the Peace Corps and AmericCorps, both of which are nonprofit organizations.
Researcher Based Grant Programs
A researcher is critical to helping to advance science around the world. That is why there are a number of different research-focused programs. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Loan Repayment Program may apply to a wide range of healthcare professionals working in research. This type of grant provides offers as much as $50,000 each year, for up to two years, for those who work in an area of research considered critical by the NIH.
That does not mean you have to work within the National Institutes, though. You can work for colleges and universities, research organizations, nonprofits, and various other organizations that fit the qualifications of the NIH. The research done must fit into one of the specific areas. As college graduates, students qualify for NIH loan repayment programs if they are studying in areas such as:
- Clinical research programs
- Contraception and infertility researcher
- Health disparities in minority populations
- Disadvantaged background clinical research programs
Employer-Sponsored Grant Programs
There are many situations in which employers can help to cover the cost of your advanced education. They may do this if you meet the specific requirements they set for you at the start of your employment with them.
If your employer in medical and mental health participates in these programs, they may help you cover the cost of your education. The only way to know if your employer offers this is to ask. It could be one of the key things you look for when you choose where to work after your graduate from college. T pay off student loans is a big benefit to many people, especially when you have federal loans or private loans that have high balances.
What About the Remaining Balance?
Perhaps you have remaining student debt. You obtained a few grants to pay your student loans, but you still have debt. What do you do? Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Ask about repayment plans
Income driven repayment plans may be available from your loan servicer. This could help you to pay back the loans you have with a more affordable monthly payment.
Student loan refinancing is an option for many students. College graduates can turn to their loan servicer to find out if they can refinance their existing student loan debt into a more affordable monthly payment. This could help you lower the costs.
Look into scholarship programs
Scholarship programs are available in many fields. If you are entering college in an area that does not apply to one of these grant opportunities, that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. Check out the scholarships for that field from research organizations, industry leaders in the field, and others. This is one of the best ways to avoid most federal student loans in the first place. You do not have to pay them back either. Find out if you qualify for other savings opportunities too, like Pell grants.
Request a new loan
In some situations, you may find that you have too much student loan debt, and you’re frustrated with making monthly payments. If the outstanding principal paid is high, and you are struggling with your payments, college graduates may wish to consider a new loan. Like refinancing, it allows you to lump all of your debts into one. That may make it easier for you to pay off your debt over time.
How Do You Get Student Loan Grants?
The best way to get access to these loans is to contact the organization that offers them to request an application. You can find a wide range of grants available to you (as well as scholarships that could be available to you after you graduate as well).
Once you find one or more grants that you believe you qualify for, download and complete the application. Be as thorough as possible in completing it. Then, turn it in and wait to hear back. Don’t stop there, though. Continue to apply for grants and financial aid through all organizations you may qualify for.
- Submit applications on time.
- Provide all information requested.
- Follow up if you don’t hear anything back.
If you do receive grants, remember that you do not have to repay this debt over time. That means you can feel good about using these funds to help you to advance your education and achieve your career goals without having to worry about debt repayment years later.