By Lisa Huntsha
Huntsha is the Archivist/Librarian for the Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center in Rock Island, IL. She is also the Head Editor for the INALJ Sweden page and your current SNAP Blog Coordinator. You can read her bio here.
Those of you with massive, panic-inducing student loans working in the non-profit field: listen up. This post is for you. Some of your student loan debt could disappear, like magic.
If you are not already aware, the federal government offers a very appealing loan forgiveness program for those of us who work full-time at a non-profit organizations (including most libraries/archives, government jobs, public schools, AmeriCorp, etc.). This program is called the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and applies to Direct Loans you took out for your education after 2007. All you need to do is make 120 separate on-time monthly payments, and then the balance remaining on your government loans vanishes. Like magic.
Unfortunately, this program is for Direct Loans only, so if you took out any other student loans those may not qualify under this program. However, you should try to consolidate your other federal student loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan so that those loans can be taken care of under this program too. If you’re not sure what type of loans you have, you can find out here.
Also be aware that you need to be employed full-time, and be able to prove this employment status. You can be considered full-time, however, from holding multiple positions that total an annual average of at least 30 hours a week. So if you’re working several part-time jobs, you may still qualify! Also, your 120 payments do not have to be consecutive, so if you are unemployed or working at a non-qualifying job for a while you can still participate, but it will take you longer for you to complete the program.
To be sure, you will want to fill out the employment certification form as soon as you are employed, to make sure that you are indeed working for a qualifying organization. You can then re-submit this form every year, or at least every time you change employers, to keep your information current and make sure you are on-track for this 10 year (or longer) program.
While you’re at it, you may also wish to make your loans income-based. If you’re not making much money, this can really help lower your monthly loan payments.
So, go forth and channel some of that financial-panic into productive action that could help lower your student debt!
NB: I am not any sort of financial advisor, nor do I play one on TV. This information is solely for educational purposes and does not purport to be, nor constitute, financial advice.