CHICAGO (CBS) — The average college student will face $22,000 in student loans when he or she graduates. It’ll take at least 10 years to pay it off. But what if some or even all of your debt could be forgiven, erased, wiped clean?
CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker tells you what you have to do to make that dream a reality.
Alexis Jennings works as a media instructor at Alternatives, Inc. The non-profit youth agency was not her first job choice after graduation, but it was the best one to help her tackle $23,000 in student loans.
“I’m like how am I going to pay for this?” Jennings said. “How am I going get rid of this debt and be able to, you know fulfill my dreams?”
Here’s how she’s doing it:
Alexis volunteers through a government-funded program called AmeriCorps. In exchange for working there, the program pays $5,300 toward Alexis’ loans. She’s signing up for another year.
“By the time I’m done with this I will only owe $10,000 and that’s so much better than $23,000,” Jennings said.
AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps VISTA and the Peace Corps are all volunteer programs that will help you repay your federal loans.
Brenda Williams is familiar with all the repayment options. She educates students at DePaul University about where to find money.
She suggested other ways to pay down your debt: Join the National Guard, serve at least three years and get up to $10,000 in loans repaid.
Work as a teacher: get 80% of your loans forgiven after five years.
Or you can serve as a doctor, nurse, medical researcher, veterinarian, lawyer or another qualifying occupation.
“Normally it’s in a targeted area where there’s not enough service or possibly a low-income area,” Williams said.
Make your monthly payments and, after ten years, “Any amount of federal loans you have left over can be forgiven,” Williams said. Every remaining penny.
That’s attorney Meghan Carter’s plan. She’s employed by Equal Justice Works, hoping to one day get out from under a $250,000 mountain of student loan debt.
“The idea that my debts will be forgiven in ten years really makes some of my long-term goals seem more easily able to be realized,” Carter said. “So maybe I will be able to own a house. Maybe I’ll be able to raise children.”
All of the programs we mentioned repay or forgive federal loans only. They do not apply to private loans you may have taken out.