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    Grants to Pay Off Student Loans in 2024

    By Will Geiger

    Will Geiger is the co-founder of Scholarships360 and has a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. He is a former Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at Kenyon College where he personally reviewed 10,000 admissions applications and essays. Will also managed the Kenyon College merit scholarship program and served on the financial aid appeals committee. He has also worked as an Associate Director of College Counseling at a high school in New Haven, Connecticut. Will earned his master’s in education from the University of Pennsylvania and received his undergraduate degree in history from Wake Forest University.

    Full Bio

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    Updated: June 4th, 2024
    Grants to Pay Off Student Loans in 2024

    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:

    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!

    Also see: Everything you need to know about student loans

    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:

    Charles Cheesman’s Student Debt Reduction Scholarship

    • Eligibility: African American or Hispanic/Latino first generation students/graduates with student loan debt
    • Amount: $13,650

    First-Generation College Students Scholarship

    • Eligibility: First generation students who are high school seniors or college undergraduates
    • Amount: $500

    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.

    One of the other big things to mention about PSLF is that it only applies to Federal Direct Loans (including Stafford Loans and PLUS Loans). This means that private student loans are not eligible.

    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!

    Also see: Guide to nurse student loan forgiveness programs

    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.

    Also see: Guide to student loan forgiveness programs

    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:

    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?

    Pell Grants are only available for students who are currently enrolled in an accredited undergraduate program. So, you can get a Pell Grant while you are in school to reduce your future student debt, but you cannot get one after the fact to pay off your student loans.

    Which student loans should I pay off first?

    Typically, you should pay off your student loans with the highest interest rate first. Since these gather interest more quickly, you’ll end up saving more money in the long run by paying them back first. You should be able to check the terms of each of your loans to find out what the interest rates are.

    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?

    In 2022, President Biden announced an initiative to forgive up to $20,000 per borrower in federal student loans. However, this initiative has been in limbo due to legal challenges. It is unsure whether it will go through. 

    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.

    Can single moms get their student loans forgiven?

    There are no federal programs specifically to forgive the student loans of single moms. If you are having trouble making your payments, you can always look into changing your repayment plan to suit your finances. Additionally, if you work in the public sector, you may be able to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

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