What Donors and Charities Help Pay off Student Loans?
Many graduates struggle to pay back their student loan debt. Read to learn about the different donors, charities, and programs that provide a helping hand in paying off student loans.
Student loan debt is one of the biggest issues facing many graduates. About 43.2 million Americans owe money on private and federal student loans. Those with federal student loan debt owe close to $36,406 on average.
If you’re one of those struggling with student debt, there are donors that pay off student loans. While charities that help with student loans are few and far between, there are some ways to get help with your debt.
Charities that help with student loans
Even though there aren’t a lot of donors that pay off student loans, there are a few organizations that can help you tackle that debt. Some of them require some sort of community service, while others are true charity.
Rolling Jubilee doesn’t just focus on student loan debt. They buy all sorts of debt, similar to a debt collector. They pay pennies on the dollar for loans that are unlikely to be repaid, and then, rather than coming after the debtors, they forgive the debt.
Shared Harvest Fund
Shared Harvest Fund connects those with student loan debt to volunteer organizations and projects. In exchange, Shared Harvest Fund puts money toward paying down those student loans. You can do good in the world and be rewarded by getting student loan help.
AmeriCorps isn’t exactly a charity. It’s a government program that can help you receive partial repayment of your loans after you complete 12 months of full-time service. While you might not have your entire loan discharged, it’s also worth noting that your time in AmeriCorps counts toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
Other donors that pay off student loans
There are other donors that pay off student loans, even if they aren’t nonprofits or charities. You might be able to get some help with student loans with these types of programs.
Rather than turning to charities that help with student loans, some find themselves seeing if they can raise money through crowdfunding. Some of the places that allow you to raise funds to tackle student loan debt include:
Many of these platforms will take a portion of what you raise in fees. Carefully consider which platform is likely to work well for you, and be recognized by your friends and family (and others in their networks) before you get started.
In some cases, individuals are willing to act as donors that pay off student loans. High-profile cases include Robert F. Smith, who promised to pay off the loans of one graduating class at Morehouse College (and their parents’ educational debt, too) and Ellen Degeneres, who offers a form on her website where struggling students can share their stories and potentially receive student loan help.
Other famous individuals who have helped with student loan debt include:
- Nicki Minaj
- Chrissy Teigen
- Taylor Swift
However, the chances of actually receiving student loan help this way are fairly low.
Loan forgiveness programs
In addition to charities and donors that help with student loans, there are some loan forgiveness programs that can help reduce the burden.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is a program that will pay off your remaining federal student loan balance after you complete 120 qualifying payments as an employee with a government or nonprofit organization. Usually, in order for this to be effective, you need to be on income-driven repayment.
Federal Student Loan Repayment Program
The Federal Student Loan Repayment Program (FSLRP) provides those who work for federal agencies the chance to repay student loans as a way to attract talent. This only applies to federal loans, but once you meet the service requirements, you can get up to $10,000 per year in forgiveness.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness
Teachers that work in shortage areas can be eligible to receive up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness. You do need to work as a teacher in a low-income area for five consecutive years to qualify.
National Health Service Corps
The National Health Service Corps features a number of loan forgiveness programs for healthcare professionals that commit to work in federal shortage areas. The amount of your forgiveness depends on your profession as well as whether you work full-time or part-time, and how long you fulfill your duties.
State student loan forgiveness programs
In order to attract talent, some states offer their own student loan forgiveness programs. These programs are often aimed at professions that are experiencing some type of shortage. Often teachers, healthcare professionals, lawyers and scientists are likely to receive forgiveness.
Check with the state program to determine the requirements, as well as to find out whether you can receive both state loan forgiveness and access to federal loan repayment programs.
Student loan refinancing
If you’ve exhausted all of your options when it comes to charities that help with student loans and you don’t qualify for other loan forgiveness and repayment help, it might make sense to consider student loan refinancing. This can be especially true if you don’t qualify for programs like PSLF or if you have private student loans that don’t qualify for many of the government forgiveness programs.
With student loan refinancing, you receive a larger loan that pays off your smaller debts. If you have good credit, you might be able to qualify for a lower interest rate, which can save you hundreds — or even thousands — of dollars over the life of your loan. You might also be able to pay off your debt faster. Organizations like Juno can help you negotiate better terms on private loans and refinancing.
Tackling student loan debt can feel like a daunting task. However, depending on your situation, there might be some options. There are donors that pay off student loans, as well as various loan repayment assistance programs. On top of that, if you need to, you can refinance your loans, potentially getting a lower rate and a payment that’s more manageable. Carefully consider your situation and review your options to determine what’s likely to work best for you in the long run.
Miranda has 10+ years of experience covering financial markets for various online and offline publications, including contributions to Marketwatch, NPR, Forbes, FOX Business, Yahoo Finance, and The Hill. She is the co-host of the Money Tree Investing podcast and she has a Master of Arts in Journalism from Syracuse University
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