College Financing: Loan Forgiveness Programs
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Prospective undergraduate and graduate students alike have concerns about loan repayment these days. The cost of a college education has tripled in some cases in the past fifteen years, and it doesn't take a college degree to figure out that salaries have not increased at the same pace as tuition rates.
A $50,000 or $100,000 price tag for an education simply isn’t realistic for someone who wants to pursue a career that will pay, say, $40,000 a year. "It's becoming more and more difficult for recent college graduates to afford their loan payments each month," says Howard Freedman, a financial aid consultant based out of Boston, "which is one reason prospective students should consider their options carefully when thinking about how they will finance college."
Public Service Loan Forgiveness
One viable option is loan forgiveness. Did you know that the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 established a new "public service" loan forgiveness program? After ten years of full-time work in public service, making the required federal loan payment each month, any remaining debt is forgiven.
What constitutes public service? There are many professions that qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Take a look at some of the professions that qualify:
- emergency management
- government (excluding time served as a member of Congress)
- military service
- public safety and law enforcement (police and fire)
- public health (including nurses, nurse practitioners, nurses in a clinical setting, and full-time professionals engaged in health care practitioner occupations and health care support occupations)
- public education
- early childhood education (including licensed or regulated childcare, Head Start, and state-funded prekindergarten)
- social work in a public child or family service agency
- public services for individuals with disabilities or the elderly
- public interest legal services (including prosecutors, public defenders and legal advocacy on behalf of low-income communities at a nonprofit organization)
- public librarians
- school librarians and other school-based services
- employees of tax exempt 501(c)(3) organizations
- full-time faculty at tribal colleges and universities
- faculty teaching in high-need subject areas and shortage areas (including nurse faculty, foreign language faculty, and part-time faculty at community colleges)
What's the catch? There are several requirements of the borrower. Here are two of the biggies (for a full list and explanation, visit the Department of Education's Loan Forgiveness page):
- The program covers federal Stafford, Grad PLUS, or consolidation loans as long as they are in the Direct Loan program. Guaranteed (or FFEL) or private loans must be consolidated into Direct Lending.
- The borrower must work full-time in a qualifying profession for ten years and make all 120 monthly payments.
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