If you’re one of the 44 million Americans with student loan debt, you probably dream of getting help repaying your loans. But, did you know that where you live and what kind of work you do could entitle you to loan forgiveness? It may sound too good to be true, but there are legitimate repayment assistance programs out there that can make your debt more manageable.
If you live in Pennsylvania, you may be eligible for one of its two state student loan forgiveness programs. There's one for healthcare professional and once for attorneys.
If you work in healthcare, you could be eligible for the Pennsylvania Primary Health Care Loan Repayment Program (LRP). The Pennsylvania Department of Health offers this program to recruit and retain primary care practitioners in the state.
To qualify for the LRP, you must be willing to work for at least two years at an approved outpatient primary care facility.
The awards are made based on availability of funding, so there’s no guarantee you’ll receive the full amount. The maximum grant awards vary based on your occupation:
The facility you work for must be in an underserved area or serve low-income populations as designated by the LRP. You can view a list of LRP-approved sites on the Department of Health website.
Both federal and private student loans are eligible for the LRP. If you refinanced or consolidated your loans, you may still be eligible if each of your loans would have qualified before you refinanced.
Loans that you cosigned for someone else or took out for a child are not eligible.
Other forms of related education debt, such as personal loans or credit card debt, do not qualify for the LRP grant.
To apply, you must gather the following documentation:
Loan account statement detailing the name of the borrower, the remaining balance, and the current interest rate.
Disbursement report detailing the name of borrow, type of loan, loan origination date, and loan amount.
Once you have that information together, you can complete the LRP application online. Note: Funds are only disbursed once per year. The application window for 2018 was January 18 through February 21. To apply for 2019, set a calendar reminder to check back in early January.
According to Above the Law, the average law school graduate walks away with $112,776 in student loans. With such a high debt load, it can be difficult to focus on other goals, like saving for retirement or buying a home.
Luckily, Pennsylvania offers some law school graduates relief. To encourage lawyers to work in public service, the state gives borrowers loans which they can use to repay a portion of their debt. The amount of assistance you can receive is dependent on program funding and the number of attorneys that apply that year.
To qualify for the program, you must be licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania and practice as an employee of an Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA)-funded organization. IOLTA-funded organizations typically serve low-income communities in which residents traditionally have difficult finding legal aid.
To qualify, your salary cannot exceed $66,000. However, if your annual student loan debt payments are equal to or greater than 10% of your annual income, you may still be eligible regardless of your income.
The repayment assistance program issues 12-month loans, which you use to pay off your student loans. If you complete the service term, the loans are forgiven and don’t need to be repaid.
Federal and private loans are eligible for repayment assistance. Other forms of debt, such as personal loans, do not qualify. You can receive up to ten years of repayment assistance.
To apply, you must create an account with WebGrants. Once you have an account, you’ll be able to fill out the application online. The site will prompt you to enter your personal information, including your name, address, student loan debt amount, and employer details.
Note: Loan assistance is administered once a year. The application window for 2018 was September 18 through mid-October. To apply for 2019, set a calendar reminder to check back in early September of 2019.
If you don’t qualify for one of the Pennsylvania repayment assistance programs, don’t give up hope. There are three other ways to make your debt more manageable.
There are federal programs and grants available that might discharge some or all of your current student loans. For example, if you work for a non-profit organization or a government agency, you could qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
To find other programs that might be relevant for your career, check out our Ultimate List of Grants to Pay Off Your Student Loans.
If you have federal loans, you may be eligible for an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan. Under an IDR plan, your loan servicer extends your repayment term and caps your payment at a percentage of your discretionary income. Some borrowers will apply for a payment as low as $0.
If you need to lower your monthly payment or if you want to reduce your interest rate, consider refinancing your student loans. With refinancing, you work with a private lender to take out a new loan for the amount of your old ones. The new loan has different terms, such as interest rate and minimum monthly payment. Many people who refinance are able to lower their payments by up to $250 a month.
If you're interested in investigating refinancing, a good first step is to get a quote online and find out how much you can save.
Works with 275+ not-for-profit community lenders for higher approval chances
LendKey operates student loan programs for over 275 not-for-profit and community lenders across the country. By partnering with these lenders, LendKey is able to give consumers direct access to the best rates available from the most borrower friendly institutions. As the servicer of all loans obtained through its platform, you can rest easy knowing your personal information will be safe and that the best customer service team will be ready to answer your questions from application until your final payment.
Offers unemployment protection and career/coaching/networking
SoFi, which stands for “Social Finance,” was created by a group of Stanford business students who found themselves with a mountain of debt after graduation. They set out to change the student loan industry and help borrowers like themselves to get lower interest rates. SoFi has some of the lowest interest rates and, unlike the other lenders we reviewed, it has no maximum amount you can finance. However, Nevada residents can’t currently refinance with SoFi. Minimum loan balances are higher in Arizona, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania due to state laws. Additional state restrictions may apply.
For every loan they fund, they contribute to the education of a child in need
CommonBond was founded in 2011 by three MBA graduates from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School who wanted to help their peers escape from high-interest student loan debt. Its original focus was on grad students, but it has since expanded to cover undergrads as well.
Of all the companies we reviewed, CommonBond has some of the best customer service. The company prides itself on being easy to reach by email, phone, or live chat. It offers networking events, expert panels, insider newsletters, and even has a program help borrowers who lose their jobs to find new ones. CommonBond also makes you feel good about choosing to refinance with them by donating money to an education nonprofit for each loan they write.
Get a personalized review of your refinancing options with CommonBond today.
Earnest empowers people with the financial captial they need to live better lives.
Using technology, data, and design to build affordable products, Earnest's lending products are built for a new generation seeking to reach life's milestones. The company understands every applicant's unique financial story to offer the lowest possible rates and radically flexible loan options for living life.
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Operates in all 50 states; 2nd largest student loan refinancing lender
Laurel Road is a national online lender with customers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Many of our non-bank competitors are not able to lend in all 50 states.Laurel Road has grown to be the second largest player in the student loan refinancing space in large part because of our reputation as the go-to low rate provider.
Special offers for medical resident and fellow refinance products
Splash Financial is a leader in student loan refinancing with new rates as low as 3.25% fixed APR which can save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loans. No application or origination fees and no prepayment penalties. Splash Financial is in all 50 states and is intensely focused on customer service. Splash Financial is also one of the few companies that offers a great medical resident and fellow refinance product. You can check your rate with Splash in just minutes.
Click here to see more of Splash's offerings and to see how you can save money.