If you just graduated college and are now facing the fact of a huge student loan burden that you need to pay off, you might consider the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. This program was created by the College Cost Reduction and Access Act and is designed to encourage people to take up a full-time public service job by offering them student loan forgiveness
for those who meet the requirements. If you already have a job in the public service area, you might also apply in return for continuing your work in public service.
There are several points you need to meet, though, in order to qualify for the program. First and foremost, you need to be a public service employee. This means that you need to apply for a full-time paid job in the government or in a 501(c)(3) non profit organization, AmeriCorps or Peace Corps or any private "public service organization". If you are already an employee, you need to continue working for these institutions.
Unfortunately the Public Service Loan Forgiveness programs are only eligible for borrowers of the Federal Government backed loans. Only those who borrowed federal student loans are eligible. These include students who borrowed through Federal Direct and those who borrowed federal student loans from private banks and financial lending institutions. In the past, these loans were given by private institutions through the Federal Family Education Loan. However, loans that are eligible to be forgiven are only those that were taken out after 1998.
The new student loan industry under Obama underwent a great change in the past year where federal student loans can only be offered by Federal Direct and no longer by private institutions. If you took out a federal student loan after 1998 through the FFEL program, you will need to consolidate your old loan, or reconsolidate into Federal Direct loan, before you can apply for the student loan forgiveness
as a public service worker. You may not be sure what kind of student loan you are currently holding. If this is the case, you can look it up here at http://www.nslds.gov.
There are also students who have borrowed private commercial loans from either state or private lenders. Unfortunately commercial loans do not qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
Besides the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, borrowers of federal student loans can also have their loan repayment managed through the Income Based Repayment program or IBR. This is also an alternative that can be taken by public service workers to the student loan forgiveness program. The IBR program will make your monthly payments more manageable according to your current income. More information can be found here on IBR
However, as with all great programs such as scholarships, grants and student loan forgiveness, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program is not automatic. It requires borrowers to take specific actions in order to take advantage of it. You can find a lot more online resources to help you figure all out from Equal Justice Works. They provide webinars, podcasts and downloadable files all about information on student loan forgiveness
programs and repayment programs.
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