Trying to Pay Off Student Loan Debt? Here’s How

June 25, 2012  |

For the majority of college students, encountering student loan debt is an inevitable reality. But depending on the types of loans you take on and what you decide to do after graduation, loan debt doesn’t have to be a lifetime burden. Maura Kastberg, the executive director of services for college prep company RSC, tells the Daily Finance that if college students address their student loans sooner than later, there’s a greater chance of loan forgiveness.

“When they graduate, many students immediately consolidate their loans,” Kastberg says to the Daily Finance. “While this can simplify things, it also can close off many loan forgiveness options.”

When it comes to loan forgiveness options, there are several traditional and non-traditional approaches recent graduates can choose from. While these are careers that may not align with the graduate’s ultimate career aspirations, they are opportunities that can provide new exciting learning experiences, and perhaps even place you in a career you never thought you’d enjoy. For those of you who can’t afford to wait for the court or congress to make a ruling concerning student loan debt, take a look at these optons:

Americorps and Vista: This program is especially beneficial for someone with minimal student loan debt. As a volunteer for Americorps or Vista, recent graduates can gain experience in a variety of fields and positions that can add new competitive skills to their resume. In addition, after one year of service, volunteers receive $4,725 to pay off loans and a stipend of up to $7,400.

Peace Corps: If volunteering interests you as well as the prospect of gaining overseas experience, then the Peace Corps may be the right program for you. If you have Perkins student loan debt, Peace Corps will cancel up to 70 percent of your debt. For Stafford and consolidated loans, you can receive a deferment of up to 27 months.

Teaching: There are several school districts that offer additional incentives for teaching. Some school districts will even offer full forgiveness for Perkins loans and up to $17,500 for Stafford loans in exchange for five years. Check into school districts near you to see if you can qualify for any loan forgiveness as a teaching.

Military Service: If you’re facing a tremendous amount of loan debt, the Army National Guard has the Student Loan Repayment Program. Depending on your field of student, the program will pay as much as $50,000 of student loan debt

Become a Rural Veterinarian: For those who have the skillset and background, the Department of Agriculture has the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program. For qualifying applicants who don’t mind living in rural areas, the program offers up to $75,000 in loan forgiveness.

Healthcare Professionals: For those interested in health fields, your loan debt can be addressed through programs such as the National Health Service Corps or the Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program. Both of these programs place medical workers in underserved areas and offer funds for student loan payments.

The National Institute of Health is another option that repays up to $35,000 per year for clinical researchers that qualify.

Legal Professionals: Some states offer loan repayment aid for state employees who studied law. There are also several nonprofit and public interests groups that help young lawyers pay off their debt as well.

If none of these offers work for you and it looks as if you have no other option, there’s always the French escape route. The French Foreign Legion allows new members to travel to distant lands and even encourages them to pick a new identity! After one stint, members can pick up a French citizenship, which may assist you in securing legal protection against creditors.

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