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Updated on Thursday, February 28, 2019
The average Class of 2018 graduate with student loans left school owing about $29,800. That’s a lot of debt to be carrying around just as you’re starting your career.
If student loans are dragging you down, you might consider pursuing a job that qualifies for student loan forgiveness. Student loan forgiveness or repayment assistance could clear away your debt, essentially giving you a fresh financial start.
So if you’re looking for jobs that forgive student loans, here are 11 careers that could potentially get your school debt wiped away.
1. Public service worker
If you work in public service, you could qualify for student loan forgiveness through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. PSLF holds the potential to erase the balance of your federal student loans after 10 years of service.
To qualify, you don’t have to worry about specific jobs that offer student loan forgiveness, but instead must work in a qualifying organization. This could be a nonprofit or federal, state or local government agency. In fact, many of the jobs listed below could also lead to PSLF.
That said, the application process can be complex, and some student loan borrowers have reached the end of 10 years of service only to find they didn’t file their application correctly. If you’re going after PSLF, make sure you understand the ins and outs of the program.
Note that some politicians are trying to get rid of the program completely, so it’s not guaranteed to last forever, nor is it 100% certain that borrowers already working toward PSLF would get grandfathered in if the program does get eliminated.
Teachers also fall into the category of jobs that forgive student loans. After five consecutive years of teaching in a low-income school or educational service agency, you could receive up to $17,500 in federal loan forgiveness, depending on what subject you teach.
And if you have a Perkins loan, you could get 100% of it forgiven in exchange for teaching in a low-income school or for meeting other criteria.
Some states also offer student loan repayment assistance programs (LRAPs) for teachers. Award amounts vary, but you might be able to use this assistance to pay off your federal or private student loans. You can find out more in MagnifyMoney’s guide to teacher student loan forgiveness.
If you’re a nurse looking for student loan forgiveness jobs, you could be in luck. Whether you’re an RN, nurse practitioner or nurse faculty member, you could earn loan forgiveness from the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment program.
This program forgives 60% of your loan balance after two years of service in a critical shortage facility in a high-need area or in an accredited school of nursing. It can also forgive an additional 25% of your balance after a third year of service.
Outside of the NURSE Corps program, nurses — like teachers — might also qualify for LRAPs from their state. Florida’s Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness program, for example, provides nurses with up to $4,000 per year for four years. Learn more about your options in our guide to student loan forgiveness for nurses.
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the average 2016 medical school graduate left college with $189,000 in student loan debt. If you’re carrying such a burdensome amount of student loans, rest assured you can find jobs that pay off student loans as a doctor.
If you work in an eligible site, for example, the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) could award you up to $50,000. Likewise, the Indian Health Services program pays up to $40,000 for doctors who practice in American Indian and Alaska Native communities, and the Students to Service Program provides up to $120,000 to medical school students who agree to work at a qualifying site for three years.
As with the professions above, doctors can also find LRAPs that offer significant assistance. And if you’re a physician, you might negotiate a signing bonus and use it to make a lump sum payment on your student loans.
Dental healthcare professionals can also be eligible for the Indian Health Service program and NHSC program offered to physicians. You could receive up to $40,000 or $50,000 through these programs, respectively.
In addition, find out if your state has a program that will pay your student loans in exchange for service. Arizona and Washington D.C., for example, both have LRAPs to help dentists get out of student debt.
Like doctors and dentists, lawyers often need to take on a lot of student debt to cover the costs of their degree. Fortunately, the Department of Justice offers an Attorney Student Loan Repayment program that provides up to $60,000 to participants.
And you can find both national LRAPs (such as the John R. Justice and Herbert S. Garten programs) and state programs (such as the Iowa State Bar Association Loan Repayment Assistance Program) that offer financial assistance. Check out our guide for more information.
Finally, some universities also offer LRAPs to alumni who work in nonprofits or high-need areas. Boston University, the University of Denver, and the University of Virginia, for instance, all offer loan repayment assistance to alums who meet certain criteria after graduation.
7. Federal employee
Sometimes, student loan forgiveness jobs can be found at federal agencies. If an agency is trying to hire for a hard-to-fill position, it might try to draw in candidates by offering student loan repayment assistance.
Federal agencies are allowed to pay up to $10,000 per year toward employees’ federal student loans for a maximum of six years. As an employee, you’ll also need to sign a contract committing to at least three years of work to receive this student loan assistance.
8. Medical researcher
If you’re a health professional in a research career, you could receive aid from the National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Program. After two years of research at an eligible nonprofit, you could get up to $70,000 applied toward your loans.
Like doctors and lawyers, veterinarians can often leave school owing well over $100,000 in debt. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 2016 veterinary graduates had an average of nearly $144,000 in student loan debt — and that takes into account those with no debt at all.
But this career path could lead you toward jobs that forgive student loans. The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program, for instance, provides up to $25,000 each year for three years to veterinarians working in shortage areas.
At the same time, various states — including Arkansas, Kansas, Maine, Missouri, and North Dakota — offer student loan repayment assistance to qualifying veterinarians. If you’re a veterinarian, find out if your state or college can provide some relief from your student debt.
Although there don’t seem to be any federal forgiveness programs designed for pharmacists, lots of states offer LRAPs for this profession. Alaska, California, Colorado, and Rhode Island are just a few of the states that provide thousands of dollars to pharmacists who work in designated workplaces. Find out if your state has a program that could help you cure your pharmacy school debt.
11. Automotive professional
If you’re an automotive professional who works for a company that’s part of the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), you could be eligible to apply for the SEMA Loan Scholarship and Forgiveness Program. In 2018, the SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund awarded $297,000 in loan repayment assistance and scholarships.
12. Volunteer in AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps or another qualifying organization
AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps and Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) are a few volunteer programs that offer student loan incentives to those who join. And if you have a Perkins loan, you could get most of it canceled for your involvement. Check with your organization to find out if it could help you pay off your student loans.
13. Active duty member or veteran of the military
Veterans and active-duty members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard might earn significant loan repayment assistance for their service. The Army’s Loan Repayment Program, for instance, will cover one-third of your student loans each year for three years. You might also find military loan assistance programs designed specifically for lawyers, doctors or other healthcare professionals.
Should you pursue jobs that offer student loan forgiveness?
If you’re a new graduate with student debt, seeking out jobs that pay off student loans could be a savvy move. Not only could you build your career, but you could also get significant help paying off your school debt.
But jobs that forgive student loans are often in the public sector, so they might not come with the same earning potential as their private sector peers. What’s more, you might need to commit several years to a certain organization, which could be a blessing or a curse depending on whether you find it to be the right fit for you.
So while pursuing student loan forgiveness jobs could be a smart choice, don’t forget to weigh the pros and cons before committing to a contract. That way, you can choose a job that helps you achieve both your personal and financial goals.