Here’s How to Reduce Your Student Loan Debt

Student loan debt hit a record high of $1.6 trillion this year. Graduating with a truckload of debt isn’t exactly the best way to kick off adulthood, but here we are. If you’re like most graduates, you’re probably looking for any way to reduce your student loan debt.

Scholarships

Good news – there are ways to cut down your student loans, so you don’t have to start life as a slave to debt. And you don’t have to beg Nicki Minaj for help.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

The PSLF program will forgive the remainder of your student loan debt if:

  • You’ve made 120 qualified monthly payments,
  • Working full-time for a qualified employer,
  • Have Direct Loans, AND
  • Repay your loans through an income-driven repayment plan.

You’ll have to send in a Public Service Loan Forgiveness: Employment Certification Form every year.

Qualifying employers are either:

  • Non-profits that are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3)
  • Government organizations (local, state, federal or tribal)

For more details about this student loan forgiveness program and qualifying employment, please visit the Federal Student Aid website.

Income-Driven Repayment Plan Forgiveness

The government offers four types of income-driven repayment plans, and all of them are based on a percentage of your income.

These programs reduce your payments now, but they also forgive your loan balance after 20-25 years of payments. The only drawback? You’ll have to pay taxes on whatever balance is forgiven.

Perkins Loan Cancellation

If you have Federal Perkins Loans, you may be able to have some or all of your loans canceled through the Perkins Loan Cancellation program.

In order to qualify, you must work in one of the following careers:

  • Teaching
  • Firefighter
  • Law enforcement officer
  • Nurse or medical technician
  • Military service
  • Public defender
  • Volunteer service
  • Speech pathologist

The program has strict requirements and criteria. You can learn more about the program and qualified employment here.

Loan Cancellation or Discharge

In certain extreme scenarios, the federal government may discharge or cancel your student loans, such as:

  • Bankruptcy
  • Death
  • Disability
  • Someone stole your identity and took out a loan
  • Your school closes while you’re still enrolled

You can view the full list of qualifying debt-cancellation scenarios here.

Grants

There are many grants available for student loan debt. Some are from states, and others are for certain fields of employment.

These are some of the most popular grants and programs people use to reduce their student loans. Some employers may also offer student loan payoff programs, so check with your boss to see if you have any options.

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