Category Archives: College Money

How to Qualify as Independent on the FAFSA

Great tips on how to qualify as independent on the FAFSA--and what to do when you just can't.

The first time I went to college, I received no grants.  No aid.  No nothing.  Not from the government.  Not from my parents.  Not from my school.

I was a good student, but so was every other kid I graduated with.  Inflated GPAs meant the students at the top of the class had 5.0 GPAs. (Yes, that’s out of 4.0.) The students who took all the easy, non-honors, non-AP courses had a higher GPAs than other students who actually tried to challenge themselves with a more rigorous course load.

I fell somewhere in the middle. I wasn’t at the top of my class, but I had also challenged myself. My GPA was by no means abysmal, but it also wasn’t a 5.0. I received no merit-based scholarships. Too much competition.

My parents weren’t able to help. FAFSA formulas did not work in my favor. Who cared if I was supporting myself with three jobs? Who cared that my parents were going through a divorce? Or that they each held debt which impacted where their salaries were spent?

Filling out the FAFSA with Divorced Parents

If your parents are divorced, on the FAFSA you only have to provide one income:  the income of the person who you lived with for a majority of the past 12 months.

If you lived with them both equally, you have to provide the income of the person who contributed more financial support to you.

Unfortunately for me, my parents weren’t technically divorced yet. Because there is no such thing as legal separation in the state of Pennsylvania, I had to provide both incomes.

How to Qualify as “Independent” for FAFSA Purposes

My situation isn’t unique. There are a myriad of reasons students don’t want to or feel they shouldn’t have to provide their parents’ incomes. The biggest reason is usually that they are supporting themselves.

That alone is not good enough of a reason for the FAFSA. Here are all the ways you could qualify as a dependent. Some of them you can’t help. And the ones you can, I wouldn’t recommend doing solely to get grant money.

  • Be 24-years-old+ at the time you are filing the FAFSA . You can’t help this.
  • Be in the military or a veteran. Please don’t join up just to get grant money.  Or GI money for that matter.  This is a serious commitment that could literally cost you your life. At the very least it will change your lifestyle. I am so thankful for the people that fight for us everyday so selflessly, but make sure you’re willing to do it for the right reasons–not just college money.
  • Be an orphan/ward of the court. You can’t help this.
  • Be in graduate school.
  • Be married. DO NOT GET MARRIED TO GET COLLEGE MONEY! There are so many other reasons to get married. And so many reasons not to. This is a lifelong commitment you’re talking about. A personal relationship. The decision to get married should not be based on how much money you can get from the government.
  • Have legal dependents of your own. DO NOT GET PREGNANT JUST TO GET GRANT MONEY! College is a full-time job. Being a parent is a full-time job. On top of all that you’ll probably have to get a full-time job even with all the grants in order to support yourselves. You don’t need three full-time jobs. You need to get a degree.
  • Have your school’s financial aid administrator change your status from dependent to independent due to unique circumstances. This is the best way to go.

Changing Your Status from Dependent to Independent

If you don’t naturally qualify for any of the first six reasons, I would highly recommend going to your school’s financial aid administrator. They have the power to change your status, but note that they cannot do it simply because you want them to.

Even if your parents do not claim you as a dependent on their taxes, you are still their dependent on the FAFSA. Even if you work 80 hours a week and pay all your own bills including rent at a location separate from their home, you are still their dependent on the FAFSA.

An extraordinary situation may convince your financial aid administrator that you should be considered independent. For example, if you’re 20 and haven’t talked to your parents in 3 years, you may have a case.

Go in and talk to them with confidence and assertion, but not anger or cockiness. You want something from them, and while you don’t want to get trampled, you do want to show that your case is legitimate.

Take with you any and all paperwork and/or documentation that may somehow apply to proving your point. Going in prepared not only ensures that you have the right paperwork that day, but it also shows your administrator that you’re serious, and perhaps more importantly, that you are, indeed, a responsible adult.

When You Cannot Qualify as Independent for FAFSA

Most people simply won’t qualify as independent until they’re 24. It stinks. It puts a lot of people who work hard and really want to attain their goals in a bad situation.

If you want to go to school without any debt and the government grants could help you do that, it may just be worth waiting. Work a couple years to save up money, then on your magic birthday get the most out of your age.

Only do that if it is right for you. Putting off education is never a good thing, and your salary in the early years of young adulthood may end up paling in comparison to that of your peers.

But taking on a ton of debt to finance a degree that may or may not provide you with a solid return on investment isn’t for everyone. In a world of crippling student loan debt, it’s smart to run your numbers and see which option is best for you: student loans or waiting it out until you’re twenty-four.

Whichever way you choose to go, make sure you apply for scholarships along the way, too. Like grants, they’re free college money that you will never have to pay back.


What Are the Different Types of Student Loans?

I really wish I had learned about all the different types of student loans BEEFORE I went to college...

If you’ve recently graduated or left college, you may be (not-so-eagerly) anticipating the day that you start paying back your student loans.  The grace period after graduating or leaving school is six months, which gives you some time to learn as much as you can about the types of loans that you have — and how you should go about repaying them.

The first step that you should take is figuring out exactly how much you owe, and whether you have federal or private student loans.  If you haven’t kept track of your student loans — which is a fairly common occurrence given the whirlwind nature of college and graduate school — then you have a few options.

For federal student loans, you can log onto the National Student Loan Data System via the United States Department of Education’s website.  There, you can find your student loan amounts and balances, your loan servicers and their contact information, the interest rates for your loans and your current loan status.

For private student loans, you will need to request a copy of your credit report from one of the three major credit reporting agencies.  You are entitled to a free report each year. These documents will list your outstanding student loans, including the companies that hold them.  You can then request your loan documents directly from the lenders.

Once you have this information, you are ready to learn more about your student loans.  Read on to learn more about the two basic types of student loans — federal and private — as well as the unique features of each.

Federal Student Loans

Federal student loans are offered through the United States Department of Education.  There are two different types of federal student loans: direct loans and Perkins loans.

With direct loans, the Department of Education is the lender.  With Perkins loans, the school is the lender.  Perkins loans are only available to undergraduate and graduate students with exceptional financial need. Perkins loans are limited to $5,500 for undergraduate students per year and $8,000 for graduate and professional degree students, with total lifetime limits of $27,500 for undergraduate students and $60,000 for graduate students.

There are three types of direct federal student loans.  Direct subsidized loans are available to undergraduate students with a demonstrated financial need to help them pay for the cost of a degree at a college or career school.

With subsidized loans, the government covers the cost of interest while the student is enrolled at least half-time in school, in a grace period, or in a period of deferment or forbearance.  Students are limited to a maximum of $5,500 per year in subsidized loans.

Direct unsubsidized loans are available to undergraduate, graduate or professional students. They are similar to subsidized loans, except that students do not have to demonstrate financial need to be eligible, and students are responsible for interest on the loan.

Unsubsidized loans are limited to $20,500 per year, less any subsidized loans. Direct PLUS loans are available to graduate or professional students and to parents of dependent undergraduate students. PLUS loans are to be used to pay for educational expenses that are not covered by other types of financial aid; the maximum amount that can be taken out is the cost of attendance minus any other financial aid that a student receives.

Other than PLUS loans, federal student loans are not based on an applicant’s credit history. PLUS loans simply require that an applicant not have a negative credit history. Instead, federal student loans either require demonstrated financial need or simply that students fill out an application.

Private Student Loans

In contrast to federal student loans, private student loans are offered by private institutions, such as banks.  These loans are approved based on the creditworthiness of the applicant.  For this reason, most private student loans require a cosigner if the borrower is under the age of 25 or does not have a strong credit history.

A cosigner is a person who agrees to sign a loan alongside the primary borrower — the student — and who will become responsible for the loan in the event that the primary borrower does not repay it.  This could happen for any number of reasons, including unemployment, death or disability.

A cosigner is often a parent, family member or close friend, and will typically need to have a high credit score.  Having a cosigner on a private student loan can help a borrower obtain a much lower interest rate on a private student loan.  Many lenders permit borrowers to release cosigners from their loans after making a certain number of on-time payments and reaching a certain credit score or income level.

If you are just starting to make your student loan payments, understanding the basics about your student loans can help ensure that you are on top of your student loan debt — and that you pay off your loans as quickly as possible.



Drew Cloud started The Student Loan Report when he found it difficult to find student loan information in one place. He now regularly writes about the latest student loan news as well as advice articles for those in college as well as for graduates working to repay their debt.

20 Ways to Save On Your Kids’ College Education

I had zero clue about number 12! So glad I read! 20 Ways to Save on Your Kids' College Education

College is potentially the most expensive line item you will ever pay for in the name of parenthood. As the cost of education balloons, you may be wondering what the heck you can do to stop it.

While you can’t take on the entire higher education industry solo, there are some things you can do to make sure you’re limiting how much money flies out of your own pocketbook. Today we’ll cover twenty ways to save on your kids’ college education depending on which stage of life they are in. To make it easier to find the info you need based on where you are in the college process, here are the topics we’ll be tackling:

What You Can Do While They’re Young

What You Should Do When Your Child is Picking a School

Applying for Aid

Smart Money Decisions at School

While They’re Young

open a 529 account for your childs college education

  1. Open a 529 account.

    If you are already fully funding your retirement accounts, a 529 account can be a great vehicle to save for your child’s education. You contribute with money you have left over after taxes, but your savings grows with interest tax-free, and will not be taxable at the federal level when you withdraw the money as long as you use it for your child’s education.

    Different states have different plans, and in some cases you can purchase across state lines. Do some research to find the best available plan for your situation.

  2. Encourage their interests, hobbies and activities.

    I was talking with a talented financial planner a while ago about college savings. His biggest advice? It wasn’t 529s…because most people aren’t even funding their retirement accounts to the max.

    Instead, he was big on encouraging participation in activities and hobbies. Those will be the things that earn your kid scholarships and get them accepted into a school in the first place.

    We collectively own a looming student loan bubble here in America. We have no idea when that’s going to pop, or what college prices or funding will look like after it does. It’s not impossible that the college financing landscape will change dramatically between what it looks like today and what it looks like when America’s youngest children hit the halls of scholarship.

  3. Teach them how to budget.

    When your child is at college, they may still be relying on the bank of Mom(s) and/or Dad(s). Even if you don’t plan on providing them with a monthly stipend, you’d be doing them a huge favor by teaching them to budget now while they’re still under your roof. It will save everyone involved some cash as it will reduce overspending and potential money leaks.

  4. Take advantage of K-12 incentive programs.

    Some schools offer incentive programs to students just for graduating. For example, Pittsburgh Public Schools has the Pittsburgh Promise which gives students who entered Kindergarten in 2015 or earlier $30,000 for college as long as they graduate high school and are admitted to an accredited institution. If you’re weighing where you want to send your kids to school, incentive programs like these can be what draws the final straw.

    You should be aware, though, that these programs are sometimes subject to change. For example, the classes of 2012-2016 were awarded $40,000 under the Pittsburgh Promise, and there is no guarantee of college monies for those who enter Kindergarten in 2016 or later.

Before Deciding on a School

Pick a college for the best ROI and least debt.

  1. Public vs Private Tuition.

    In general, state schools or public schools tend to have lower tuition rates than private schools. The price difference can be dramatic, and there’s a ton of research out there demonstrating that, over the course of your career, it doesn’t typically matter where your degree came from in terms of salary.

  2. Don’t write off the Ivy League as “too expensive.”

    Ivy League schools, on the other hand, tend to have a high sticker price but generous financial aid thanks to numerous endowments. In these cases, financial aid is sometimes extended to families who make six figures, which could bring attendance costs below that of private, or sometimes even public, universities.

    The Ivy League is the one exception to that salary rule, too—if you’re a minority. While white students don’t see salary bumps thanks to attendance at an Ivy League school if they’re not low-income or first generation graduates, black and Hispanic students do.

  3. Visit the Financial Aid Office on tours.

    You can get a good feel for how much school-sponsored financial aid your child will be able to get simply by visiting the financial aid office on your initial tour of the school.

    For example, the financial aid office at the University of Pittsburgh, perpetually ranked as one of and often the most expensive public school in the country, didn’t even have a binder with scholarship opportunities to look over as of a few years ago. Not only is it notoriously expensive, but it’s also notoriously short on financial aid for its students.

    While Pitt is a fantastic place to get an education, you can find private institutions that charge less and offer more aid. Pitt is just one example, though. Be sure to make the financial aid office a priority when you’re visiting any campus.

  1. Look at foreign options.

    Does your kid want to study abroad? You might want to encourage them to do it for four years. There’s a small movement of students who are relocating to Europe for university, and it’s not just because the idea of studying in France is incredibly romantic.

    Rather, it’s that the cost of tuition abroad can be substantially cheaper. You do have to consider each country and school independently, though. In France, tuition can be had at public universities for as low as $1,000 or less per year. If you look at somewhere like Sweden, however, the costs jump up closer to that of the average American public university.

  2. Community College for the first two years.

    Your student may turn up their nose at this option, but take the time to go over the numbers with them and they may change their mind. If you are a Pell Grant recipient, community college can almost always be fully funded without you dropping a penny out of pocket. Even if you’re not receiving federal grants, one or two scholarships could knock out all of your costs.

    On top of that, your student can stay at home, saving on massive room and board fees. By the time they transfer when they’re a junior, they won’t be subject to the rule many colleges have for their freshman: you must live on-campus in our expensive housing.

    Just make sure your child knows which school they want to go to after the initial two years are up as you want to ensure their credits will actually transfer.

Apply for Aid

Apply for financial aid with Citizen's FAFSA application.

  1. Apply for the FAFSA.

    The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is the gateway to almost all other financial aid. It can get you Pell grants (which you never have to pay back,) work-study opportunities, and access to federal student loans (which you do have to pay back.) Schools require the FAFSA to be filled out before awarding your child with school-sponsored aid.

    Filling out the FAFSA can be overwhelming. You will need your tax data as the parent or guardian from the prior-prior tax year. So for the 2017-18 school year, you will need your 2015 return. You can fill the application out for free on the government’s site, but as mentioned, it can be a cumbersome process with little guidance.

    If you want a simpler way to fill out the FAFSA with easy-to-understand guidance, there is help. provides a free and intuitive FAFSA application that makes the whole process less of a headache.

    If you think you make too much money for the FAFSA, apply anyways. The worst that can happen is that you get zero aid. But in years past, there has been money leftover because not enough families applied.

    Even if you don’t qualify for grants, you’re still likely to qualify for Federal loans, which are more often than not infinitely more desirable than the loans you’ll find in the private sector. Besides, if you use Citizen, applying is going to be easier than you anticipated.

*Note: Be wary of services that charge you a fee to complete the FAFSA. While paid preparers who disclose that there is free help available are operating within the law, those who charge you a fee simply to file should be scrutinized carefully as there are scams out there.

  1. Encourage work-study opportunities.

    On top of Pell grants, another way to fund college is through work-study, which will also be a result on your child’s FAFSA. The job they are offered will either be at the school or somewhere off campus, and they can request that their paychecks be applied directly to their tuition and fees.

    Studies show that working on-campus actually improves students’ grades. (The same is not true for off-campus positions.) That means that not only will your child be earning a portion of their keep while at school, but they’re also likely to perform better academically while they’re there.

  2. Apply for state grants.

    After you’ve filled out the FAFSA with Citizen, look to your state’s department of higher education. They typically award grants as well, and they can easily save you four figures per year.

  3. Apply for scholarships.

    Scholarships are another area where not enough people apply. This is money you will never have to pay back, yet many go unawarded each year for lack of applicants. To find scholarships appropriate for your child, you can check both obvious and bizarre places. Get started by encouraging them to write a scholarship resume.

  4. Apply for special allowances through DPW.

    If you come from a low-income household, check with your state’s Department of Public Welfare to see if they offer any special allowances (SPALs) for students. For example, in Pennsylvania eligible students can get assistance paying for their books through a DPW SPAL.

  5. Consider potential loan repayment options.

    If your student has applied for the FAFSA through Citizen, applied for scholarships and state grants, exhausted SPALs and still doesn’t have enough money for college, it may be time to look at student loans.

    Hopefully they’ve been offered options through the Federal government. I use the word hopefully because these loans tend to have a variety of options for repayment that can be advantageous—as long as you have the right kind of loan and payment plan.

    For example, if they want to enroll in Public Service Loan Forgiveness, where their loans will be forgiven after making minimum payments for ten years, they will have to have Direct subsidized or unsubsidized loans, or Direct consolidated loans. If you are the one applying for loans and you work in the public service sector, you may qualify for this program, too if you have Direct PLUS loans.

    The Revised Pay as You Earn program (REPAYE) requires students to have any of the Direct loan products, though parents will not qualify with PLUS loans. Students can also qualify with any of the following types of loans as long as they are consolidated:

    -Federal Perkins Loan
    -FFEL Consolidation Loan that wasn’t used to pay off a parent loan
    -FFEL Loans made to graduate/professional students
    -Subsidized or Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans

    There are several other programs, and each one requires you to not only have a specific type of loan, but to be on a specific type of payment plan, as well. You can learn more at the Federal Student Aid website.

Once They’re Accepted

National program to get student loans forgiven

  1. Carefully consider meal plan options.

    You don’t want to overspend on food, but you don’t want your child to go hungry while they’re away at college, either. Carefully consider meal plan options, which often include some combination of meal credits, “dollars” to be spent at school-sponsored restaurants and cafeterias, and specific days of the week allotted for dining. Often, credits cannot be carried over from one semester to the next.

    If you buy a big meal plan, encourage your student not to eat outside of the school’s dining halls very often—if at all.

    If you know they’re going to anyways, purchasing a smaller meal plan may be a smart idea as you let them manage the rest of their food budget on their own.

  1. Consider meal plans & on-campus housing vs cooking for themselves & off-campus housing.

    Housing and meal plans make up a surprising portion of college costs. Some schools will not allow freshmen to live off campus. However, if your child’s school does, look at nearby off-campus housing options that might allow them to cook at home. Even if this isn’t an option as a freshman, it may be an option a little later as they work their way into upper classmanship.

  2. Discourage buying from the bookstore directly.

    Unless it is absolutely unavoidable, discourage your student from purchasing through their campus bookstore. Prices are marked up beyond outrageous, and there are other options.

    We have found the best value to be purchasing physical, used textbooks outside of the bookstore and then reselling them at the end of the semester, but you can also rent physical or eTextbooks for a comparatively low price.

    If the book has been printed as a special edition just for your child’s campus or was written by their professor, have them check out Craigslist. It’s likely that students who took the class last semester are looking to unload their copies, and there’s no one who is going to buy them save other kids on campus—like your child.

  1. Encourage use of library reserve.

    One of the best-kept secrets at college libraries is the reserve section. In it, your child will be able to find a copy of every single required text the school currently has issued. The catch? There’s only one copy, and you can’t take it outside of the reserve area.

    If they only need the text to do some light homework, and there’s not a lot of competition for that single copy, they can go to the library and use it there without paying a cent.
    If they need easier access to it, they can take a photo of certain pages on their smartphones for free. Many libraries will allow you to copy pages from the text, but this will almost always cost money.

    Just don’t have them tell too many of their classmates about it, or they may have trouble getting their hands on that psych book the day before midterms.

  1. Research professor reviews to increase odds of passing.

    Just as we’ve all had that one favorite teacher who impacted our lives in momentously positive ways, we’ve all had that one professor who was an absolute nightmare. They didn’t grade things until the very end of the semester, so you never knew where you stood with course material. They rambled on about their cat for an hour instead of teaching any formulaic chemistry. Sometimes, they didn’t even have a firm enough grasp of the subject matter to be teaching it themselves.

    It can be difficult to pass a course in this type of environment, and the more often your kid has to retake a course, the more money their education is going to cost. Have them be smart about which section of a course they enroll in by having them research professors prior to registering.


Do you have any tips to save on your child’s education? We’d love to hear them in the comments below!


*This post is in collaboration with Citizen.*

The Student’s Guide to Being Frugal

Great for college students. The Student's Guide to Being Frugal.

If you’re a student or if you’ve ever been one in the past, you’re probably aware that it isn’t exactly the most luxurious lifestyle in the world. And while it does depend on each person’s background, most students are generally broke and looking to save as much money as possible at any potential opportunity.

The sad truth, however, is that most of us are not that good at saving money, and constantly being bombarded by shopping ads everywhere you look isn’t exactly helping this situation. I’ve been there, and I know how hard it is to save up when you’re living on your own and constantly have to worry about paying the rent and the huge amount of student loan debt you probably have going.

Over my years as a student, I’ve gained quite a bit of experience with saving money, through my own mistakes as well as the advice of other people, and today I want to share my advice with you. So without further ado, here are the five ways in which you can be more frugal as a student, and potentially save up a lot of money.

student budget

Avoid Credit

The easiest way to throw money down the drain is to commit to a credit card purchase that you’ll have to pay interest on. Don’t get me wrong, credit cards can be extremely useful in certain circumstances, but you should absolutely avoid making this your default way of paying for things. Interest can add up extremely quickly if you’re not careful, and you can completely unnecessarily lose a lot of money. So go for debit or cash, and save credit for emergencies – you’ll thank yourself later that you did.

Buy It Nice, or Buy It Twice

This age-old saying has way more truth to it than you might think. Why? Because cheap stuff breaks and stops working – end of story. Whenever you’re out to buy something that you want to last you a while, like a desk, a pair of headphones or even minuscule purchases like a simple notebook, don’t fall into the trap of buying the cheapest one. It’s the cheapest one for a good reason, a reason I already mentioned – it simply isn’t going to last. I’m not saying that you should buy expensive stuff just for the heck of it. I’m saying that you should be skeptical of cheap products and services.

Search for Deals

Whenever you see a deal that you can potentially take advantage of, take your phone out and make note of it. Search for deals online, collect coupons – anything you can do to get a discount that can save you money is worth doing. If you tend to shop online, use a ExpressVPN to see if you can get a better price on larger purchases if you change your IP (this actually works sometimes).

Student's guide to frugality

Want it or Need it?

Your “need” list should always hold priority over your “want” list, and when buying a product or paying for a certain service, it’s very important that you make this distinction. It’s perfectly okay to want something, just as long as you’re honest with yourself about why you’re buying it. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of making the “I need it” excuse, and once you do it’s very difficult to stop buying things that you could absolutely do without.

Keep Track of Expenses

This is perhaps the most crucial point on this list. Your income and all the monthly expenses that need to be taken care of should be written down, analyzed and calculated as studiously as possible. It’s incredibly easy to do this nowadays – all you need is an app like Google Sheets, although if you don’t want to fiddle around with a smartphone, a calculator and a piece of paper will do fine.

First, input all your fixed expenses: your bills, your rent, the stuff you know you will have to pay for each month – and deduct all that from your average monthly income. Every time you make a purchase, write it down, deduct it from the total. Being aware of how much money you have left at any given moment gives you a much better idea of how much you’re spending and whether you need to slow it down.


Adam Ferraresi writerAdam Ferraresi is 23 years old, but he first became interested in writing when he was in high school. Today he’s a successful web developer living in Dallas, Texas, and one of the most trusted writers at In his free time, he’s an avid mountain climber and enjoys playing basketball with his friends.

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.

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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.

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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!