5 Organizations that Will Help You Pay Off Your Student Loans
New college graduates leave school with an average debt load totaling almost a year's worth of entry-level salary, which makes the prospect of paying it off quite daunting. And with poor job prospects in site, trying to pay off student loans is akin to trying to buy a house while working at McDonald's: it's technically possible, but the chances of it happening anytime soon are really rather slim. However, there are a number of organizations that have not only recognized this problem, but are chipping in to help. You don't have to sell a kidney or promise your firstborn, just take a bit of time out of your life to make a big dent in your student debt.
Although this organization is based in Washington, D.C. and has satellite offices in Pittsburgh and Chicago, interested graduates can still sign up online and see if opportunities exist closer to home. The size and popularity of the program mean that not everyone will be able to take advantage of it, so your best bet is moving quickly and checking back soon. SponsorChange takes college graduates with unused skills, and matches them with organizations in need of those skills. In turn, the college graduates get a bit of money that goes toward paying off their student loans, while at the same time bulking up their resumes with experience that helps them get ahead.
Working on a crowdfunding basis, Zerobound gets college graduates to sign up, specify how much money they need to pay off their student loan (this can be all of it or a tiny bit, big student loans or small), how much time they would need to raise the money, and then what kind of volunteer project would be a good fit for them. Then, the college grads, while they're engaged in their volunteer project, look to donors to help them along with their fundraising goals, while Zerobound does the same on their end. The catch, though, is Zerobound uses Stripe as their payment processor, which takes a 2.9% processing fee and $0.30 transaction fee on all transactions. Further, Zerobound charges a 5% service fee on all your funds if you're successful, and 8% if you're not.
Stafford and Perkins Loans
The federal government can help you if you've both taken out one of these loans and are planning to teach, with each loan forgiveness program working in slightly different ways. The Stafford loan forgiveness program will kick in up to $17,500 to eligible college grads if they spend five years teaching full-time in a low-income community, while the latter will look the other way on 100% of your Perkins loan if you're a full-time teacher for at least one year in a public or nonprofit school system at either the elementary or secondary level. Both programs have very specific criteria as to who can qualify and what it takes to get part or all of your loans paid off, and you can click here to learn more.
Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program
Admittedly, this is narrowed down only to college graduates who are looking to work as veterinarians, but they do offer a pretty sweet deal if you qualify. For each year you work in a National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)-designated place, the VMLRP will pay up to $25,000. The only "catch" is the maximum money you can get from them is $75,000 and you have to work in a specific area, but the opportunity of making such a huge dent in your student loans in such a short period of time is a fantastic opportunity.
Perhaps one of the most well-known programs around, college graduates have to volunteer full-time from a select program of service organizations. While they're volunteering, AmeriCorps will give them a little stipend for living expenses. But when the year is up, the graduates will receive $4,725 they can use either for their loan debt or for future educational opportunities.
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