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Grants to Pay Off Student Loans in 2023
Student loan debt is a massive problem for many students. According to the Brookings Institute, it is a 1.5 trillion dollar problem that impacts over 40 million Americans. What you may not know is that there are grants to pay off student loans! These programs include grants as well as loan forgiveness programs that will pay off your student loan debt.
Here are our summary of the best opportunities to manage your student loan debt:
- Best grants for federal student loans: Federal student loan debt relief
- Best for private student loans : Delete Your Debt No-Essay Grant
- Best for student loan refinancing: Credible
- Best grants for people in social impact careers: Public Service Loan Forgiveness
- Best grants for nurses: Nurse Corps Loan-Repayment Program
- Best grants for teachers: Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program
- Best grants for lawyers: John R. Justice Repayment Program
- Best for veterans: Armed Forces Loan Repayment
If you are concerned about your student loans or paying off student loans, keep on reading to learn about how you can find and secure these grants!
Private scholarships to pay off student loan debt
Yes, there are actually some private grants that will help you pay off your student loans! While most of the other grants have a service requirement, these grants and scholarships have no such strings. Here are a few that you might be eligible for:
- Eligibility: Anyone with student loan debt (including private student loans)
- Amount: $500
- Deadline: Rolling monthly deadlines
Potential Federal student loan debt relief
In August 2022, the U.S. Department of Education announced one-time debt relief for students with outstanding federal student debt. This debt-relief included up to $20,000 of federal loan forgiveness for Pell Grant recipients and $10,000 for borrowers who currently earn a qualifying income ($125,000 for individuals or $250,000 for married couples or heads of a household).
This initiative was struck down by the Supreme Court in June 2023. However, the Biden administration has announced plans to pursue a similar initiative through the federal rulemaking process. This program is far from a sure thing, but federal borrowers should sign up for informational updates from the Department of Education to be informed of any developments so they are able to apply if Biden manages to implement the program.
Learn more: Everything you need to know about student loans
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Public service loan forgiveness
Public Service Loan Forgiveness or PSLF is a program will pay off your student loan balance. This can save students tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt.
To take advantage of the PSLF program, students must:
- Make 120 monthly payments on their federal student loans
- Pay back their student loans on an income-driven repayment plan such as RPAYE, IBR, or ISR.
- Be employed by a qualifying employer during the 120 months.
Qualifying employers include the government or any 501c3 non-profits. Members of AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps will also qualify for PSLF. This means that teachers, civil servants, non-profit employees, and other social impact professionals can have their student loans paid off. Some healthcare professionals, including members of the National Health Service Corps, may also qualify. If you’re a nurse, check out our guide to student loan forgiveness for nurses.
If you have questions about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program you can check out the PSFL Tool on the Department of Education’s website.
Don’t miss: Scholarships360’s free scholarship search tool
Income-driven loan forgiveness
Even if you don’t qualify for PSLF, you can benefit from Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Based Repayment, Pay As You Earn, Revised Pay As You Earn, and Income-Contingent Repayment.
One of the perks of these plans is that they will all pay off your remaining student loans after 20 or 25 years of payments. Keep this in mind if you are on an Income-Driven Loan Forgiveness plan, but not eligible for PSLF.
The downside of waiting the 20 or 25 years for loan forgiveness is that it is possible to pay even more in interest than the original loan amount.
Nurse corps loan repayment program
If you are a nurse, the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment program may be a good option! Through this program nurses with student debt can get up to 85% of their nursing related student loans paid off!
The Nurse Corps Loan Repayment program is run through the Human Resources & Services Administration and is open to the following types of nurses:
- Licensed registered nurses
- Advanced practice registered nurses
- Nurse faculty members educated at an accredited nursing school in the U.S.
In order to receive the student loan benefit, nurses must work for at least two years in a Critical Shortage Facility or serve as a nurse faculty at an eligible school of nursing.
So in addition to getting some of your student loans paid off, you will be doing an important service by serving in a community that is in need of nursing professionals!
Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program
The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program will pay up to $17,500 on subsidized and unsubsidized Direct Stafford Loans. In order to receive this loan benefit, teachers must be employed as full time, qualified teachers for five complete and consecutive academic years.
Additionally, this teaching must have be at an elementary school, secondary school, or educational service agency that serves low income students.
One of the downsides to TLFP is that private student loans and Direct PLUS loans are not eligible so the benefit only makes sense if you have Direct Stafford Loans.
If you are a teacher who is interested in learning more about the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program check out the federal student aid webpage here.
John R. Justice Repayment Program
The John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program will pay up to $60,000 in student loans for lawyers who go into the public sector.
These payments will be up to $10,000 per year and require a three year commitment as either a state prosecutor or a state public defender. You can also check-in with your law school about other repayment grants for public service. Many law schools, including top programs like the Yale School of Law, offer loan forgiveness grants to alumni who go into public interest law.
Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program
The US Department of Justice offers an Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program that offers similar benefits to the John R. Justice Repayment Program, though it offers a slightly lower yearly benefit at $6,000 per year. However, commitments and eligibility requirements vary between the two programs so it’s a good idea to consult them both.
This incentive program requires three years of service in order to benefit from the forgiveness.
Armed Forces Loan Payment Programs
Many branches of the United State military offer loan payment programs that will pay off your student loans:
- Air Force JAG Program
- Army College Loan Repayment
- Army Reserve Loan Repayment
- National Guard Loan Repayment
- Navy Student Loan Repayment
Each program is a little different, but will potentially pay off tens of thousands of dollars in student loans for you. As with other types of service-based loan repayment programs, these are specifically for federal student loans and not private loans.
Student loan refinancing
Student loan refinancing allows borrowers to combine their student loans into one new loan through a private lender. Generally, refinancing allows borrowers to unlock a lower interest rate which can lower your monthly loan payment and potentially save you money. You should also know that refinancing can be done with both federal and private student loans (although federal loans may lost some of their benefits including potential loan forgiveness and certain repayment plans).
If you want to explore student loan refinancing, free tools like Credible can help you discover the rates and refinancing terms that you qualify for.
Learn more: Student loan consolidation vs. refinancing
Don’t forget to apply to scholarships!
Even if you don’t have a lot of time, there are scholarships that take minutes to apply for! Start with our easy scholarships list, with an opportunity for everyone! You can also try out our free scholarship search tool, which custom-matches you to vetted scholarships based on your demographic and career interests.
Frequently asked questions about grants to pay off student loans
Can I get a Pell Grant to pay off student loans?
Which student loans should I pay off first?
However, if you are overdue on payments for any of your loans, you should absolutely be paying those back first, regardless of interest rates. Failing to make your minimum monthly payments leads to penalties, can hurt your credit score, and have many other consequences in the future.
Is the government paying off student loans?
The government does pay back some student loans though through specialized programs. People who go into the public sector may be able to get their loans forgiven through Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Those who go into the public legal sector may also take advantage of incentive programs from the Department of Justice such as the Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program.