Student loans are a hot topic as of late. With the current state of the U.S. economy, they are more relevant than ever before. Add into this both the fact that college tuition rates are rising and that graduates have fewer career opportunities, and the whole situation gets a lot worse.
Simply put, paying off student loans on the kind of salary that you get straight out of college is all but impossible. In fact, many people struggle with their student loans long into adulthood. Luckily, there is hope, albeit a very dim glimmer: student loan forgiveness.
What is Student Loan Forgiveness?
A student loan forgiveness program is a federal program that offers graduates aid in paying off their student loans. People that have graduated from college and are working in particular jobs (see below) can receive a number of benefits from the government associated with their student loans.
Tax breaks, lowered interest rates, and reduced loan amounts are all possible. Some people can even have the entire amount of their student loans erased by working in a particular field for a set period of time.
Who Qualifies for Student Loan Forgiveness?
Many people actually qualify for loan forgiveness programs. However, you must generally be working in public service to quality.
Among these public service jobs are:
- Military Personal
- Law Enforcement
- First Responders
- Social Workers
According to recent studies, just about a quarter of workers in the United States work in a public service position like one of the ones mentioned above.
United States Congress defines a public service worker as someone that is “employed with a federal, state, or local government agency, entity, or organization, or a non-profit that has been designated as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.
Complications With Student Loan Forgiveness
Like with any good programs, there are more than a few snags with forgiveness plans for student loans.
The main one is that the program is confusing. Because the benefits in the various programs can overlap, it is hard to figure out exactly what to expect.
For instance, not all loans qualify for certain sub-programs. So if you’re working in one position but have a certain type of student loan that you are trying to pay off, you might just be out of luck.
Solutions to These Problems
Luckily, there are a lot of people working very hard to make the problems of these forgiveness programs disappear.
A prime example are businesses that are able to modify the specifics of their programs to complement federal programs. This gives workers who otherwise wouldn’t qualify for such a program the chance to reap the rewards that they so much need and deserve.
Employers can also better educate their employees on the specifics of these programs. A big part of the reason for student forgiveness complications is simply that people don’t know where to start with them. They don’t know what they’re doing.
Finally, a big chunk of the recent changes rests on the shoulders of policymakers, who are attempting to lighten the load on college graduates and straighten out their forgiveness options.
What You Can Do
If you are interested in qualifying for a loan forgiveness program or think that you should already qualify, the best thing that you can do is to talk to your employer.
Ask them if there are any such programs available to their knowledge. Review the specifics of your loan as well so that you know exactly what kind it is and what it qualifies for.
Working closely with others, your employer in particular, will help you sort out such programs and figure out if forgiveness works for you.
At a time when so many graduating college students are in debt, it’s a joy that there are programs like student loan forgiveness. While it is far from perfect, at least it is a start. Let’s just hope it continues improving so that the burden of debt is lifted off the shoulders of more college students in America.