For most students, getting grants and scholarships to pay off student loans is the easiest way to ease the student loan burden. Statistically, about two thirds of American students accrue student loans of up to $24,000 by the time they are graduating. Paying off these loans can be stressful especially when you do not have a steady income source. 40% of these graduates take at least ten years to repay student loans. With the cost of college education rising sharply year after year, most students find themselves hard pressed to meet their college financial needs.
How can scholarships and grants help?
It is hard to come across scholarships that pay off student loans after you have graduated. The basic eligibility rule for scholarship is enrollment in an academic program. As such, most scholarships only offer aid to students who are enrolled in a school at the time of award. If you are still in school, you might be able to benefit from scholarships to pay off student loans. The trick is to apply for as many scholarships as possible. Some of the scholarship money can then be used to pay off debts that have already accrued.
The terms of using grants to pay off student loans are similar to scholarships. To qualify for most grants, you will have to commit yourself to working in the public sector upon graduating. Most grants are available in the form of awards for students attending college in remote areas, and aspiring public servants. The grants may not help you pay off existing student loans but they will ensure you borrow less.
Student loan forgiveness programs
If you have already graduated, you can qualify for student loan forgiveness programs under several terms and conditions. These terms include:
Working in the public sector: Working in the public sector is akin to community service which qualifies you for several grants and loan forgiveness programs. Working for any federal or government agency such as the Department of Defense or Amtrak will make you eligible for the Federal Student Loan Repayment Program. This program pays off up to $60,000 of your federal student loans.
Doing voluntary work: Volunteering in programs such as Volunteers in Service to America, Peace Corps and Americorps is another way of getting grants to pay off student loans. In addition, you will get accommodation and a monthly stipend to cover your basic needs.
Working in the education sector: The teaching profession has attractive student loan forgiveness programs. The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program pays off up to $17,000 in student loan debts. If you are working in a remote or low income school, you can qualify for a further $5,000. The program is however eligible for Perkins Loans, National Direct Student Loan and Stafford Loan only. There are also grants available for teachers to repay student loans at the state level.
Working in the health sector: Health care professionals working in remote areas and with disadvantaged populations qualify for student loan forgiveness.
Law students: Law students serving the public or working in non-profit organization also have access to government grants to repay off student debts.