Category Archives: College Money

Occupation-Based Student Loan Repayment Programs

Student loan repayment programs for doctors, nurses, vets, STEM majors, lawyers, educators and more!

Most people are aware that your student loans can be forgiven if you’re in a government position.  A while back I wrote about states, cities, and provinces that are willing to pay back your student loans for simply moving there.

Today I’ve got even more programs that will help you pay back that nasty debt.  Most of them are based on your occupation.  Some of them are pretty common.  Some of them are completely random.  Some of them only apply to certain states or geographic locations.  Some are national.

All of them are worth reviewing.  They could help you pay back a significant portion of your debt.

(These are all snippets…for full details of the program hit “more information” under each one as their may be additional qualifiers I do not mention.  You may or may not be eligible for the full payback amount as listed depending on your situation.)

National program to get student loans forgiven

Teacher Student Loan Forgiveness

Locality:  Federal/National

What it will pay back: Up to $17,500 on direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans & subsidized and unsubsidized Federal Stafford loans.

Special Requirements:  Be a teacher in a low-income school district for 4-5 years

More Information

Work in education? You may be able to get your student loans cancelled!

Teacher Student Loan Cancellation

Special Requirements:  Hold on!  You don’t have to be a teacher for this one!  If you work in the educational field, odds are you qualify.  You have to work either in a field where there is a lack of qualified educators as determined by your state, in special education, OR in a school with low-income families.

Locality:  Federal/National

What it will pay back:  A discharge of up to 100% of your loan from the Federal Perkins Loan program.

More Information

uninsured lost obamacare

Association of American Medical Colleges Scholarships, Student Loan Repayment & Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

Locality:  Various states across the country.

What it will pay back:  Varies. Some state programs grant scholarships while others provide student loan repayment or forgiveness.

Special Requirements:  Varies, but you will need a tie to a state in order to qualify for its program.

More Information

occupation based student loan repayment programs

NURSE Corps Student Loan Repayment Program

Locality:  Federal/National

What it will pay back:  60% of your loan balance over the course of two years, possibly 25% for a third year.

Special Requirements:  Must be an RN with you education completed. Must be working full-time at a designated eligible critical shortage facility.

More Information

occupation based student loan repayment

Pitt Law Student Loan Repayment Assistance Program

Locality:  University of Pittsburgh Law School graduates

What it will pay back:  An unknown-to-me sum towards your debt.

Special Requirements:  Must be a graduate of Pitt who is using their law degree in public service (or public service related to the welfare of children depending on the program.) Your income must be below 400% of the federal poverty level.

More Information

Pitt Law has two additional student loan repayment programs available.

A lot of other schools and states have programs for their law students. Do some research around your own!

Vetrinary Student Loan Repayment Programs

Arkansas Veterinary Student Loan Repayment

Locality:  The state of Arkansas

What it will pay back:  The balance due on your loans for five years.

Special requirements:  Get a job or internship within 90 days of your graduation, and stay employed in the field consecutively to get the maximum benefits for the full five years.

More Information

Programs for Veterinarians in Other States

Joining the Peace Corps could reduce your student loans.

Peace Corps Student Loan Deferment and Cancellation

Locality: National (You may serve outside of the US.)

What it will pay back:  Potential 15-70% cancellations on Perkins Loans. Deferment on several Federal Loans. Deferment on private loans vary from lender to lender.

Special Requirements:  Join Peace Corps and serve for at least two years.

More information

occupation based student loan repayment programs

New York State Licensed Social Worker Loan Forgiveness Program

Locality:  The state of NY

What it will pay back:  $6,500/year up to $26,000

Special Requirements:  Be a licensed social worker in New York state working in a critical human service areas in health, mental health, substance abuse, aging, HIV/AIDs, child welfare, or in an area with multilingual needs. You must work in an eligible county at 35+ hours per week.

More information

STEM Student Loan Forgiveness

North Dakota Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Occupations Student Loan Program

Locality:  The state of North Dakota

What it will pay back:  $1,500/year up to $6,000

Special Requirements:  Must be a North Dakota college graduate with a final GPA of 2.5 and have been working in your field for 12 months.

More information

Vermont used to have a very similar program that paid out a little bit more, but Vermont’s Student Loan STEM incentive program has sadly been discontinued.


While it’s really exciting if you can take advantage of any of these programs, be aware that money you receive to pay off your loans may be subject to taxes!

Cities that will Pay Your Student Loans

For this kind of money I'm definitely moving to a city that will pay my student loans!

Small town anywhere is dying.  A lack of young blood, not to mention highly-educated, innovative blood, is killing them.  People are moving on to bigger and better things in areas with higher populations.

Student loans are killing millennials.  The average grad carries more than $25,000 in debt if they took out loans, and that’s just the average.  Oh, and student loans don’t die.  They follow you forever and ever, even through most bankruptcies.

Innovative Communities Will Pay Off Your Student Loans–Just for Moving There

Some of these communities are seizing an opportunity to create solutions for both groups. They are offering to help repay student loans for graduates that establish their residences within their community’s boundaries.

Truly innovative problem solving, it presents real solutions to both parties.  Here are three of the major programs for cities that will pay your student loans that have already started or are deep into the works:

Kansas' Rural Opportunity Zones either pay off your student loans for you or allow you to skip out on state taxes.Kansas Rural Opportunity Zones Program

Location:  Kansas.  In any of these 71 counties.

Status:  Active

Requirements:  Establish residency in one of the above mentioned counties on/after July 1, 2011. Have outstanding student loans along with an associates, bachelors, or post-graduate degree. You must have lived outside of Kansas and made no more than $10,000 in Kansas income for the five years prior to establishing residency.

How much will they pay?:  Up to $15,000.

How it works:  The state pays 20%  of your student loan balance over the course of five years, up to $3,000 per year for a total of $15,000.  Payments will go directly to the lender. Keep in mind that any payments made to your lender will be taxable.

Where to apply:  Kansas Department of Commerce

Move to Niagara Falls, NY and they'll pay off your student loans. Live Niagara Falls Program

Location:  Niagara Falls, New York

Status:  Active.

Requirements:  Associates, bachelors or post-graduate degree.  They originally recruited at local colleges, but are open to other applicants from far-off places.  You must also move to the the city of Niagara Falls.

How much will they pay?:  Up to $7,000.

How it works:  You’ll get up to $3,500 from the city to pay your student loans over two years in the form of reimbursements.

Where to applyLiveNF website, which should be live again in February 2017.

Anyone who graduated in the past seven years can take advantage of Saskatchewan's Graduate Retention Program.Saskatchewan Graduate Retention Program

Location:  Anywhere in Saskatchewan, Canada

Status:  Active

Requirements:  You must have graduated from an approved program after January 1, 2010. That program must be equivalent to six months of full-time scholarship and must have rewarded you with a certificate, diploma, undergraduate degree, or journeypersons certification.  You must live in or move to Saskatchewan.

How much will they pay?:  $20,000 Lifetime max. You will receive up to $3,000 if you have a one-year certificate/journeyperson/diploma, up to $6,400 for a two-year certificate/diploma, up to $15,000 for a three-year undergrad degree, and up to $20,000 for a four-year undergrad degree.

How it works:  During the first four years, you get 10% of your tuition reimbursed to you as a nonrefundable tax credit, as long as you file your taxes in Saskatchewan.  For the next three years, you get 20%, up to the maximum amount for your certification/degree. If the credit is more than you owe in taxes, you can carry the credit over for up to ten years.

Where to apply:  Saskatchewan’s Graduate Retention Program


Didn’t find a program you like? There are occupation-based student loan repayment programs across the USA. Click here to check some of them out.

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Get Free Textbooks with a Special Allowance

 Erm, did someone say free textbooks? Doing this next semester.

When you’re trying to improve your situation, you come up against a lot of obstacles. Maybe you got into school to further your education, but, especially if you have children, you can’t afford to go without working–which conflicts with your class schedule.

You can combat this by applying for scholarships that will cover your costs above and beyond tuition.

After you have those scholarships, you have another major hindrance: textbooks. They’re crazy expensive, especially if you have a narcissistic professor who wrote their own and only publishes through the school. In a lot of situations, you can find ways to get textbooks for cheap, but sometimes the school bookstore is the only option.

If you’re truly struggling with money, there may be a way for you to get free textbooks. You may be able to get a special allowance (SPAL) through your state welfare office to get these costs covered.

How to Use a SPAL to Get Free Textbooks

In Pennsylvania, the Special Allowance Program (or SPAL) is available to those who are on food stamps or cash assistance. In order to qualify, you mus be willing or required to participate in an employment training program, including, but not necessarily limited to, college.

These SPALs can help pay for books, transportation and even qualification or certification tests.

If you do not live in Pennsylvania, that does not mean SPALs are not available. It just means that I’m not as familiar with the system in your state.

To get the SPAL forms you will need to go into your welfare office and talk to a case worker. Ask them for a Special Allowance packet, making sure you let them know why you are asking.

They will give you a packet of paperwork including some forms for your school to fill out and a job/career plan outline. There will be a couple of additional personal forms for you to fill out, too.

From here, you’ll want to take the forms to your school’s financial aid office. When they fill them out, make sure you also get a copy of your current class schedule and verification that the books and other materials you need are required to take each course.

Now you can mail in all the paperwork. If you’re approved, you will get the Special Allowance to use at your school’s bookstore for free textbooks. You must use it within 14 days of issuance, and then submit your receipt to the welfare office so they can verify that you used all the money for its intended purpose.

In that packet, you should have also received a monthly attendance worksheet. You will need your professors to verify that you are attending class by the 5th of each following month.

Say you’ve filled out the form for February. You will need to submit it to the welfare office by the 5th of March. Make sure you keep up on your paperwork or you could end up owing all that textbook money back.

Your experience may vary a little from the above. First of all, this is based off of personal research. I did not qualify for a SPAL when I was going to school, but you can bet I tried. Because free textbooks would have helped a lot.

Additionally, if you’re not in the state of Pennsylvania, the availability of special allowances may differ, or be nonexistent. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth researching, though. Free textbooks can save you hundreds or even more than $1,000 per semester–and that adds up.

FAFSA Changes That Affect You Tomorrow

So glad I saw this! I was going to wait until January 1!

Tomorrow is October 1st. Just another Saturday, amiright?


Tomorrow signals the start of a new practice with FAFSA applications, which is important for both non-traditional students and parents of college students alike.

FAFSA Applications Now Open October 1st

In years past, you had to wait until January 1st to apply for the FAFSA. This was a mess for a ton of different reasons. The first is that most people don’t even have their W-2s until January 31st unless their employer is overly ambitious, so filling out tax information before actually filing was a nightmare and usually required amendments.

The second is that waiting until January makes it really hard to compare offers from different schools—how are you supposed to know how much you’ll be paying in tuition when you don’t even know how much you’ll qualify for in grants?

Because of those issues, FAFSA applications now open on October 1st. That means the application you fill out tomorrow will be for the 2017-2018 school year.

Prior Prior Tax Year Data

That also means that instead of your 2016 tax year data being pulled for the 2017-2018 school year, the federal government wants you to submit your 2015 tax year data instead. That’s kind of beautiful because you’ve already submitted it. It can now be pulled up electronically sparing you the drudgery of going through all of your tax documents and matching them to the required online forms.

This practice is known as pulling the prior prior tax year’s data. Your 2016 tax return will still count—but only for the 2018-2019 school year. Then in 2019-2020, you’ll use 2017 tax year data.

Filing Early Means They Won’t Run Out of Money—Right?

Common advice tells you that Pell Grant funding is limited, so you should apply early to get your hands on those funds that you never have to pay back.

This is true, but typically the money doesn’t actually run out. For the 2015-2016 school year, applicants left $2.9 billion on the table. While applying early is still smart practice (I’d hate this to be the one year they ran out,) the bigger message is to apply—even if you think you won’t qualify.

The FAFSA doesn’t just open up opportunities for Pell Grants. It also opens the door for you to apply to state grants. It also issues work-study opportunities and gives you access to advantaged government loans. (Even though I’m all about doing college debt free, if you’re going to take out loans you might as well do it smart.)

On top of all this, to open the doors to funding from your individual institution, most will require you to have a completed FAFSA. The moral of the story is this: there is “free” money out there. Don’t leave it on the table. Apply. Apply. Apply.

Outside the Box Back-to-School Savings Tips

Wow! These are great back-to-school savings tips I haven't heard before!

When it comes to back-to-school shopping, there are some well-known, basic tips: shop sales, look at circulars and hold off as long as you can keeping in mind that when prices go down, your selection will be more limited.

Today we’re going to look at some outside the box back-to-school shopping tips. These are things you may not immediately think of, but can save you big money either in the short- or long-term.

Get Organized with Daycare Expenses

While you’re getting your entire life organized for the first day of school, it’s smart to get your finances organized, too. If your kids go to daycare in the summer, or do paid afterschool programs at a daycare facility, use this time of mass organization to get a pulse on your expenses for the year.

Gather all your receipts and proofs of payment now. Get a dedicated spot for them with your tax paperwork. Come Spring, you will need them to claim the Credit for Child and Dependent Care Expenses or FSA deductions if you have one offered by your employer.

If you have an FSA, getting familiar with your actual expenses now can help you plan for how much you want to set aside in 2017. Remember, any money you set aside but don’t use throughout the year will just disappear.

Get this paperwork organized now so that you’re not guessing when you’re making your goals for 2017 or scrambling around for yet another piece of paperwork needed for tax filing in April.

Use Student and Educator Discounts

If you’re a college student, many places will give you a student discount if you sign up for their program with your .edu email address. This includes discounts on major purchases like laptops.

If you’re an educator, remember that many places will give you discount, too. Maybe you sign up with your .edu email address, but many businesses will award you the discount at checkout if you show your school employee ID. All programs are a little different, so check before you shop, but know that not all of them limit the educator discount to only teachers. If you are a classroom aide, support specialist, or hold another job in the educational setting, you may qualify, even if you are just buying supplies for your own kids.

Get Rewarded for Your Spend

Back-to-school shopping provides the highest amount of revenue all year second only to Christmas. That’s not just because a lot of people are doing it; it’s because a lot of the essentials are expensive.

If you are spending a lot of money anyways, and you are responsible with credit cards, you might as well put your spend on a card that is going to reward you. For example, right now if you spend $1,500 on your PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card within the first 90 days of opening your account, you get a $100 bonus statement credit. This card not only offers 5X points on gas purchases paid at the pump, 3X points on groceries, but also 1X points on everything else, which includes school supplies. Those points will add up fast and you can redeem them for a variety of rewards.

While I wouldn’t advocate spending $1,500 exclusively on back-to-school shopping unless you absolutely have to (i.e. you’re a college student who requires a laptop or specific software program,) back-to-school shopping is certainly an added expense that will help you organically reach that minimum spend much more quickly.

Don’t Buy What You Don’t Need

This may seem obvious, but if you don’t need something, don’t buy it. If you’re lucky and your kiddo hasn’t outgrown their jeans from last school year, there’s no commandment saying you must buy them something new.

Also in this, though, is that you don’t have to buy brand names—especially for younger kids where social pressures are not as high. For example, with my own young children, I buy them shoes at WalMart. They’re not going to last as long as Air Jordans, but their feet are going to grow out of them before they’ve expended their usefulness anyways.

Get a Backpack with a Warrantee

The last time we bought backpacks was when we went on our honeymoon to Tulum. We were sure to buy a very specific brand that has a warrantee. It’s lifelong, so if the zipper ever goes or one of them tears, they’ll fix it or give us a new one free of charge. That means we spent the money once, and will never have to spend it again.

What are some outside the box back-to-school saving methods that you use in your household?




*This post is in collaboration with PenFed Credit Union*

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