college

Good deeds get rewarded

For generations, students have dreamed their student loans magically disappeared. Well, take heart. It can happen. Good things happen to good people, they say, and it's particularly true when it comes to student loans.

Some of your good deeds could actually result in reduction -- or even total discharge -- of your student debt.

Recent college grads, for example, can cancel part or all of their federal education debt by working in public service jobs -- lower-paying professional jobs that serve low-income communities -- or by volunteering.

Loan forgiveness programs are available to everyone from teachers to nurses to young doctors and lawyers to Peace Corps volunteers.

Teachers who work in low-income elementary or secondary schools may be able to cancel as much as $5,000 of their federal Stafford loan debt. The five grand gets eliminated from a teacher's loan balance after he or she completes five years at a designated low-income school.

It's sort of like a salary bonus. The program is available to teachers who borrowed Stafford loans after Oct. 7, 1998.

More information and a listing of low-income schools are available on the U.S. Department of Education Web site.

Recent grads with federal Perkins loans should take note as well. There are a whole slew of forgiveness programs available.

Get with a program

You could cancel as much as 100 percent of your federal Perkins loan debt if you work full-time as a:
  • Teacher in an elementary or secondary school that serves students from low-income families.
  • Special-education teacher.
  • Provider of early-intervention services for the disabled.
  • Teacher of math, science, foreign languages, bilingual education or in other fields designated as teacher shortage areas.
  • Employee for a public or nonprofit family-services agency.
  • Nurse or medical technician.
  • Law enforcement or corrections officer.
  • Staff member in the educational side of a Head Start program.
  • Volunteer in AmeriCorps.

With a Perkins loan, your school acts as your lender. Because of this, questions about deferring or canceling a Perkins loan should be directed to the financial-aid department of your college or university.

A chart detailing federal loan forgiveness programs is available on the Mapping Your Future Web site.

More information on Teacher Loan Forgiveness programs is available on the U.S. Department of Education Web site.

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