A few weeks ago it was reported that the total amount of student loan debt has now reached $1 trillion dollars. This has now surpassed the amount that Americans owe on credit cards. There is a ray of hope for those that are faced with repaying this mountain of debt. This week I will be addressing how to get your student loan payments reduced, forgiven, or even free money to pay them off completely.
1. Lower Payments And Loan Forgiveness Through The Income Based Repayment Program (IBR)
Although many do not know about the program, the IBR can be used to cap your payments at 15% of discretionary income (will be lowered to 10% in 2014). If you make the required payments for 25 years the remaining balance will be forgiven (or if you work for a non-profit for just 10 years). Check the free IBR calculator.
From Federal Student Aid Website -
What federal student loans are eligible to be repaid under an IBR plan?
All Stafford, PLUS and Consolidation Loans made under either the Direct Loan or FFEL Program are eligible for repayment under IBR, EXCEPT loans that are currently in default, parent PLUS Loans (PLUS Loans that were made to parent borrowers), or Consolidation Loans that repaid parent PLUS Loans. The loans can be new or old, and for any type of education (undergraduate, graduate, professional, job training).
There is a very informative website about how the IBR works. The site contains a very good overview and will provide answers to many of the most commonly asked questions. This program really does represent substantial loan forgiveness for many people. Depending on your circumstances, you may end up with such a reduced payment that 50 percent or more of your loan is forgiven in the end.
2. Loan Forgiveness Programs
There are a growing number of options that one can pursue to receive substantial or even total student loan forgiveness. This is just a partial list. If you Google your occupation and 'loan forgiveness' you may discover additional programs. For example, Alaska offers substantial loan repayment incentives to newly recruited state troopers. There are countless other area specific programs like this nationwide.
3. Move To Our Town And We Will Pay Off Your Student Loan
Niagara Falls was once a city of 100,000 but in the last 50 years its population has been cut in half. As a result, they are offering college graduates up to $7,000 to relocate and establish residency there. In Kansas, there are 50 counties participating in so called Rural Opportunity Zones. Move to one of these designated zones and receive income tax waivers and student loan repayment totaling up to $15,000.
I can certainly rant about my concerns about the total amount of student loan debt that young people are accumulating. I was, however, pleasantly surprised at the wide number of options available for reduced payment and outright loan forgiveness. If you have your own ideas on this topic or would like to share a personal experience, please use the comments section below.
Helping you make the most of Godâs money!