If you have student loan debt, you may qualify for a forgiveness or repayment assistance program that could alleviate some of your financial burden. While many public service and nonprofit jobs are often eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness,1 there are numerous other forgiveness programs specifically tailored to certain careers. Whether you’re a doctor, nurse, veterinarian, teacher, lawyer, member of the military, or volunteer, let’s explore possible career-based student loan forgiveness options that could offer a path to student loan debt relief.
Healthcare providers could have a number of student loan forgiveness options available to them through different government programs at the federal and state level. Offered through the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program helps healthcare providers – such as physicians, dentists, behavioral health professionals, and nurses – who work in underserved areas repay their medical school loans.
As an incentive to bring advanced training and skills to areas that lack adequate healthcare access, participants receive financial assistance to reduce their student debt. This program aims to improve healthcare access for vulnerable populations across the United States. Use the list below to learn about even more student loan forgiveness opportunities through HRSA:
Depending on factors such as specialty, employment type, and geography, nurses could have a number of student loan forgiveness options available to them. Read on to learn about the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program, a popular HRSA program, and for a more in-depth look at student loan forgiveness programs for nurses, visit our resource How Nurses Can Get Student Loan Forgiveness.
The Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program is available to qualifying registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and nurse faculty in underserved communities. The program offers up to 85% of their student loan balance paid off in three years.
In addition to healthcare providers, professionals who work in veterinary medicine in rural or underserved areas could qualify for student loan forgiveness. The VMLRP program, offered through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), provides student loan repayment assistance to veterinarians who work in certain areas with shortages of veterinary professionals. This program could be a beneficial option for veterinarians committed to addressing the needs of underserved communities.
Borrowers in teaching careers also have a number of options for student loan debt relief. The Teacher Loan Forgiveness, for example, is a federal program that aims to alleviate financial strain on educators who work in schools. Under this program, eligible teachers could receive up to $17,500 in student loan forgiveness for federal student loans. To qualify, teachers must work full-time in low-income schools or educational service agencies for five consecutive years. Learn more about how to qualify for this program here.
Forgiveness options are available to legal professionals who work in both public and private sectors. A good place for lawyers to start learning about loan repayment assistant programs (LRAPs) available to them is on the American Bar Association’s website. Some notable LRAPs specifically for lawyers include:
The JRJ Grant Student Loan Program exists to encourage qualified individuals to enter and continue employment as local and state prosecutors and local, state, or federal public defenders. Learn more here.
Offered through the Department of Justice (DOJ), the department competitively selects new participants annually each spring, and renews awards to current participants during existing service obligations, subject to availability of funds. Initial acceptance of ASLRP funding triggers a three-year service obligation to the Department of Justice. Review the policy and learn more here.
Administered by the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), this program is offered to attorneys employed by LSC-funded legal aid organizations, which participants can then use to pay off law school debt. LSC chooses grantees by lottery, and applicants must have at least $75,000 in law school loans and not exceed certain income limits. Get all the details and learn about qualifying criteria here.
For military professionals seeking student loan debt relief, there are several potential paths available exclusively to servicemembers. Some notable military programs include:
Under this program, the Army will repay part of a soldier's qualifying student loans. Only specified Military Occupational Specialties (MOSs) qualify. Learn more here.
This program is available to Soldiers and officer candidate who have one or more qualifying and disbursed Title IV federal loans. Learn more here.
Known as the Health Professions Loan Repayment Program (HPLRP), the Navy offers this program to new accessions as well as current active duty medical personnel The maximum yearly loan repayment is $40,000, minus approximately 25% federal income taxes. Learn more here.
If you work as a volunteer at a nonprofit organization, you may have forgiveness opportunities and LRAPs available to you. Start by checking with your organization’s benefits administrator. Additionally, compensated volunteer and nonprofit work through organizations such as AmeriCorps and Peace Corps qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) – more on that in the next section.
Beyond job-specific LRAPs and forgiveness opportunities offered by various government and other organizations, the federal government offers programs such as PSLF, Income Driven Repayment (IDR), and Perkins Loan Cancellation to provide relief to federal student loan borrowers.
The 10-year PSLF program allows borrowers employed at government organizations and qualifying nonprofit organizations to have their Federal Direct Loans forgiven after ten years of repayment (or 120 qualifying payments). To pursue and qualify for PSLF, 120 qualifying monthly payments must be made under an IDR plan or the 10-year Standard Repayment Plan and paid on-time (within 15 days of due date) and in the full due amount. Learn more about types of jobs that qualify for PSLF here.
IDR plans such as Saving on A Valuable Education (SAVE) can help federal borrowers who may be struggling to make their monthly payments under the Standard Repayment Plan. Learn about recent changes to the Income-Driven Repayment program in our interactive resource collection Comparing IDR Plans.
Perkins Loan Cancellation is a federal program that forgives Perkins Loans for individuals working in specified fields like education, healthcare, or public service. By fulfilling specific service requirements, borrowers could have their Perkins Loan debt completely canceled. The program offers financial relief in exchange for dedicated service.
For help understanding which student loan forgiveness path(s) make sense for your career path and financial circumstances, schedule a call with one of our student loan specialists and visit our interactive resource collections:
Get tailored Laurel Road resources delivered to your inbox.
To qualify for PSLF, you must be employed by a U.S. federal, state, local, or tribal government or not-for-profit organization (federal service includes U.S. military service); work full-time for that agency or organization; have Direct Loans (or consolidate other federal student loans into a Direct Loan); repay your loans under an income-driven repayment plan; and make 120 qualifying payments. For full program requirements visit: Federal Student Aid.