Owing money on graduate loans can be a burden, but if you took out a Perkins Loan, you may be able to pay it off without a dime coming out of your own pocket! Some employers may pay off your loan (or at least part of it) and, depending on what you do for a living, you may be able to have your grad-school loan debt “forgiven” altogether. Not everyone who takes out a Perkins loan is eligible for this benefit, but it might be an option for you. As you search for scholarships and grants for graduate school, also make sure to check out whether or not you can benefit from this great opportunity!
Grad school loan help through the Department of Defense
If you enlist in the Armed Forces, you may be able to negotiate a repayment agreement as part of your enlistment contract. In exchange for your service in specialty areas of the U.S. military, the Department of Defense may repay some or all of your Perkins Loan for you. If you have questions about these or aren’t sure if you qualify for Perkins graduate loans, contact your local recruiting office for more details.
The Department of Health and Human Services helps with graduate loans
If you’ve moved on to a career in nursing after graduation, you may be eligible for repayment of your Perkins Loan through the Department of Health and Human Services Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program. This is sometimes offered as a hiring incentive for nurses willing to work in eligible facilities, many of which are located in areas experiencing nursing shortages. Further information on this repayment program can be found at www.bhpr.hrsa.gov/nursing/loanrepay.htm.
Death or disability affects graduate school loans
Your loan can be forgiven if you pass away or suffer from a permanent disability. If you have become disabled, contact the U.S. Department of Education at www.fsahelp.ed.gov to find out more about how to pursue this or contact your loan holder.
Graduate school loan benefits accompany some community service/protection careers
Up to 100 percent of your Perkins graduate loans may be forgiven if you choose to pursue a career in a community service or protection field. Any of the following career paths may make you eligible:
- Working as a full-time teacher in a designated elementary or secondary school serving students from low-income families
- Working as a full-time special education teacher (including teaching children with disabilities in a public or other nonprofit elementary or secondary school)
- Working as a full-time qualified professional provider of early intervention services for the disabled
- Working as a full-time teacher of math, science, foreign languages, bilingual education, or other fields designated as teacher shortage areas
- Working as a full-time employee of a public or non-profit child- or family-services agency providing services to high-risk children and families from low-income communities
- Working full-time as a nurse or medical technician
- Working full-time as a law enforcement or corrections officer
- Working as a full-time staff member in the education component of a Head Start program
Volunteering can help pay down a grad school loan
If you volunteer for the Peace Corps, up to 70 percent of your Perkins Loan may be forgiven. If you serve with AmeriCorps or Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), you can receive a monetary award to help pay off your graduate school loan.
Graduate school loan help can come from the military
If you’re posted in an area of hostilities or imminent danger, up to 50 percent of your Perkins Loan may be forgiven. Furthermore, if you’ve been deployed or mobilized, you’re not required to make any payments on your student loans during your absence. (It’s a federal law that your Perkins Loan lender must postpone your loan payments if you are on active military duty.) This applies if you’re in the National Guard or Ready Reserves as well.
Even if your Perkins graduate school loan is a small one compared to your total loan obligations, it’s worth looking into. Individual loans often have minimum monthly payments of at least $50, even when they are small loans. If you’re concerned about how your loan payments are going to add up, getting rid of just one may help ease the pain of paying off your graduate loans.