Most of us know that you can apply for grants and scholarships to help offset the cost of college, but can you get a grant to pay off student loans once you’ve already graduated?
In short, kind of! There are grants and there are loan repayment assistance options that function very much like scholarships to pay off student loans.
One strategy you can use when searching for grants to pay off student loans after graduation is looking for career-based grants. Grants based on your chosen specialty field can offer some serious savings on student loans.
For example, medical professionals, lawyers, vets, scientists, and teachers all may qualify for special grants designed to ease your student loan burden.
In the medical field, qualifying professionals can take advantage of a $50,000 grant to pay off student loans if they agree to work in a high-need area through the National Health Service Corps .
If you’re a nurse, you may be eligible to pay off 85% of your student loan debt with grants available through the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program if you work at a qualifying non-profit or in a high-need area.
Getting ready to graduate from medical or dental school and worried about your loans? The Students-to-Service Loan Repayment Program offers up to $120,000 in grants to repay student loans to qualifying students who agree to work in an area experiencing a medical professional shortage.
Not a doctor? There are similar programs available for lawyers who spend time working in public service. Public defenders and state prosecutors may be eligible for up to $60,000 towards student loans through the John R. Justice .
Attorneys working for the Department of Justice may be eligible for up to $60,000 in grants to cover the costs of student loans through the Department of Justice Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program .
Spend your time in a classroom instead of a courtroom? There are grants available for teachers, too! With the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program, qualifying educators can earn loan forgiveness towards federal loans if they commit to teaching in a low-income area. Did you borrow a Perkins loan? You may be eligible for Perkins Loan Teacher Cancellation .
Corporate Loan Repayment Grants
More and more companies are starting to offer help with student loan repayment as a job perk. As more and more employees struggle with debt, employers have started to offer these benefit programs in order to attract and retain top-notch talent.
For example, Aetna employees may be eligible to receive up to $10,000 towards student loans. At publisher Penguin Random House , full-time employees who have worked at the company for at least a year may be eligible for up to $1,200 a year in loan repayment grants.
Wondering if your employer offers the same perks? Check with HR to see if you can take advantage of a company-wide loan repayment and/or grant program.
State-Issued Loan Repayment Grants, Repayment Assistance, and Forgiveness Programs
In addition to career-specific student loan grant programs, many states offer programs designed to give residents a leg up in paying off those pesky student loans. Like the career-specific student loan grants, state grants may also be tied to specific professions.
For example, New York offers loan forgiveness to Child Welfare Workers, and California offers loan repayment grants to Registered Nurses working in underserved areas. Maine and North Dakota both offer loan assistance to STEM grads working in their field.
Some states even offer programs that aren’t tied to specific careers. For example, Maine offers loan assistance to some taxpayers living in the state through their innovative Opportunity Maine program. Tulsa Remote , a program in Oklahoma, helps remote workers living in the city pay off their student loans. To see all of state specific loan repayment programs, check out SoFi’s state by state breakdown.
Federal Student Loan Forgiveness
In addition to scholarships to pay off student loans, you may qualify for federal student loan forgiveness.
On certain income-driven repayment plans, your remaining balance may be forgiven after 20 or 25 years, depending on your payment plan and whether you meet all the requirements.
If you work in a public-interest job, you may qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).
The program offers loan forgiveness after 10 years of full-time work at a qualifying organization, which may include a government agency, non-profit or public interest groups and libraries.
PSLF has relatively strict requirements and if you don’t work in public service for the full 10 years, you may not see any benefits. As of September 2019, nearly 99% of PSLF applications had been denied . If you plan on pursuing PSLF, pay close attention to program requirements.
Also note that these programs only apply to federal student loans, so if you have private student loans you may need to look for other solutions when it comes to getting help with repayment.
Student Loan Refinancing
One way to make both your public and your private loans more affordable is to consider student loan refinancing. Refinancing your loans can potentially net you a lower interest rate which could potentially mean you spend less money in interest over the life of the loan.
Refinancing federal student loans would eliminate the loans’ eligibility for federal loan forgiveness programs and payment protections.
If refinancing seems like an option, consider SoFi. The application process can be completed online, with customer support available seven days a week. When you refinance with SoFi you’ll have access to member benefits like a discount on any additional loans borrowed and exclusive community events.
In the event you lose your job through no fault of your own, you could qualify for unemployment protection which would allow you to temporarily pause your loan payments.
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SoFi Student Loan Refinance
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Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.