Special Considerations and Loan Forgiveness Programs
If you're a member of the U.S. military, you get a stipend for post-secondary education and the amount you receive depends on the length of service for which you have enrolled. This can be applied to a four-year college or a vocational school and can be an immense help in keeping loans down. You'll also find a number of scholarships and tuition assistance programs available to you. The difference between military tuition assistance and other programs is that you'll be serving with the military before enrolling in school.
Students who become full-time teachers at elementary or secondary schools are also eligible for loan forgiveness. Typically, these programs rely on you teaching in a low-income area, and by doing so, a portion of your Perkins Loans can be forgiven. There are several different programs available, both private and federal so if teaching is your goal, you'll have a few options from which to choose.
There are similar forgiveness programs for people who will be practicing law or medicine. Each offer different loan forgiveness programs for those who work in non-profit or public-interest positions. Persons in the medical field will also find the National Institute of Health's repayment program helpful, as it can pay up to $35,000 a year for those conducting medical research [source: National Institute of Health].
Volunteer work can be applied to loan forgiveness as well. Both AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps offer forgiveness programs. Volunteers in Service to America also has a program for those working with non-profits helping to eradicate hunger, homelessness, poverty and illiteracy.
Many of these forgiveness programs vary from state to state, so it's worth your time to research them after you graduate if you plan on entering a public service field.
What if you don't qualify for any form of loan forgiveness? Read on to see what happens when you default on a student loan.