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10 Creative Ways to Pay Off Your Student Loan Debt

10 Creative Ways to Pay Off Your Student Loan Debt

For decades, people have been told to go to college because doing so would give them the best shot at a great career. Some college graduates are not as fortunate. Subsequently, they are forced to take jobs that don’t even require a college degree. We all know that those jobs make paying student loans very difficult! Well, fear not, you will find a solution in these 10 creative ways to pay off your student loan debt.

1. Income Based Repayment Plans

While this option has been becoming increasingly popular over the last few years, some college graduates and dropouts still don’t know about income based repayment plans. The Department of Education created these programs to help people manage their student loan debt by reducing their monthly payments.

Monthly payments are determined by your annual income of the previous year. For some people, their monthly payment could be $20 or even $5 dollars a month.

Others may not be required to pay anything. If they have an income that is at or below the poverty line, their monthly payments will be marked as paid (even though they are not paying anything). Depending on your repayment plan, the remainder of your loan can be forgiven within 20 or 25 years.

Program participants are required to submit their annual income every year for the purpose of recalculating the monthly payment and continuity.

The Wall Street Journal has found that only 40% of people with student loans are paying them back. A lot of people think that they are hopeless and tend to let their loans go into default. The income based repayment plan is a great way for people to manage their student loans more responsibly.

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    2. Kansas Rural Opportunity Zones

    The state of Kansas is working hard to discourage population decline. The Rural Opportunity Zone program encourages Americans to move to rural Kansas to experience the lower cost of living and high quality of life. The zones are made up of 77 counties that have been authorized to offer student loan payments.

    In order to be eligible for the income tax waivers, individuals must meet the following requirements:

    – Have a college degree (either undergraduate or postgraduate)
    – Have an outstanding student loan balance
    – Have established residency in a rural opportunity zone after July 1, 2011 and on or after the date on which the county opts in the student loan program

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    Despite living in uncertain times, Americans are still hopeful in fulfilling the American Dream. Kansas has enabled Americans to realize their dream by not only offering free land but also student loan assistance. Some people have been a victim of misfortune. The state of Kansas is giving them a second chance.

    KS Rural Opportunity Zones graphic

      3. New York Young Farmers Loan Forgiveness Program

      The state of New York has been looking for ways to stimulate their agriculture sector. In return, the state is providing loan forgiveness to people who have obtained a college degree from a New York college and agree to operate a farm on a full-time basis for five years.

      Working in the agriculture sector is quite a noble path, as it is one of the cornerstones of our economy, A lot of new farming operations either break even or don’t make enough to scale their operation.

      The state of New York recognizes that their agricultural sector can only be successful if their farmers are given sufficient support. Their loan forgiveness program gives farmers a chance to start off with a clean slate.

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        4. National Health Service Repayment Program

        Shouldn’t the people who bring wellness into our lives be given a break? The government thinks so. The National Health Service Corps (a U.S. Department of Health & Human Services program) is giving primary care medical, dental, and mental health clinicians up to $50,000 to repay their student loans in exchange for a two year commitment to work at a NHSC site that helps underprivileged communities.

        After the initial service commitment, corps members can continue working to receive additional loan repayment assistance.

        Healthcare grads typically have more student loan debt than other grads (excluding law and most STEM majors); yet are likely to secure a high paying career. This program is another option that can offer healthcare grads to have at least half (if not more) of their student loan debt paid in exchange for serving underprivileged communities.

        Which may be ideal for people who came from such communities and desire to give back in service.

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          5. Be Zerobound

          Zerobound is a program that provides an innovative option to reduce student loan debt for graduates who are dedicated to volunteering. Zerobound brings together volunteers, organizations, and sponsors together on one platform to connect and support each other.

          They work with all graduates, ranging from those who are seriously struggling with their debt to those who just need a bit of help.

          This is a great program for students who have spare time to contribute to a cause that resonates with their passion. In return, they are able to receive some financial relief from their student loan debt.

          Zero-Bound-Logo1

            6. Move to Niagara Falls Program

            The city of Niagara Falls, New York has experienced a significant population decline, due mostly to the relocation of several industrial corporations. While it remains a tourist attraction for Americans and Canadians, the city is looking for other ways to boost their economy to avoid losing their “city” status.

            They are hoping that by enticing people to move there; it will bring in talent that will positively influence the labor force, which could keep them there longer than the two year requirement.

            New residents who live there for two years will get a total of $7,000 to pay off their student loans. In order to qualify for the reimbursement, the applicant must have attained a two or four year degree from an accredited school and rent a home or apartment in a designated area.

            This program presents a great opportunity for people who don’t have a lot of student loan debt and any major life commitments.

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              7. Health Professions Faculty Program

              Faculty working at a health professions college or university can receive up to $40,000 toward the repayment of their student loans if they come from a disadvantaged background. In return, they must serve on the faculty for two years.

              In order to be eligible for the program, individuals must meet the following requirements:

              – Be a U.S. citizen (either born or naturalized), U.S. National, or Permanent Resident
              – Have a degree or be currently enrolled in an approved graduate training program within certain health disciplines
              – Have an employment commitment for a full-time or part-time faculty position for a minimum of two years, beginning on or before July 31, 2015
              – Be from a disadvantaged background, based on economic or environmental factors

              While healthcare grads often have more student loan debt than other graduates, they are very likely to secure a career in that field. This program is another option that can offer healthcare grads to have at least half (if not more) of their student loan debt paid in exchange for serving on the faculty for two years.

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                8. Perkins Loan Cancellation Program

                Perkins Loans are low interest federal loans that are reserved for students in exceptional financial need. Perkins Loan recipients may cancel a portion of their loan (or even the entire loan in some cases) if they are employed in certain occupations. The current list of accepted occupations for this program are listed as the following:

                – Teachers
                – Corps members (Peace Corps, Americorps, or Action Corps)
                – Law enforcement officers
                – Social workers
                – Head Start workers
                – Professional providers of early intervention services
                – Healthcare technicians

                There is no application that is required to be considered for this program. If you are interested. you need to contact the school that processed your loan.

                As mentioned earlier, the Wall Street Journal has found that only 40% of people with student loans are paying them back. So, this program is a great way for public service employees to reduce a good chunk of their student loan debt.

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                  9. USDA Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program

                  Do you love animals? Have you ever thought about being an animal doctor? Well, this benefit might convince you to be a veterinarian. The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program will pay up to $25,000 per year for people who agree to serve three years in designated areas that have shortages of veterinarians.

                  In our culture, we have learned to consider our pets as part of our family. Therefore, it requires that they be entitled to the same level of healthcare as humans. In return, the USDA are giving qualified veterinarians up to $75,000 in tuition reimbursements for dedicating three years in underserved areas.

                  USDA-fields

                    10. U.S. Office of Personal Management Program

                    One thing that you don’t have to worry about as a government employee is the lack of benefits. The U.S. Office of Personal Management makes every employee eligible to have their loans paid by their employer.

                    Government agencies will make payments to the loan holder for up to $10,000 for an employee in an calendar year and $60,000 as the total maximum.

                    Commonly, people equate a government career to a high paying salary. This is simply not true. However, their abundance of benefits including student loan repayment makes having such a career worthwhile.

                    usopm

                      Featured photo credit: Unhappy Man Mask Sad Face Sitting Depressed via pixabay.com

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                      Published on November 8, 2018

                      How to Answer the Tough Question: What are Your Salary Requirements?

                      How to Answer the Tough Question: What are Your Salary Requirements?

                      After a few months of hard work and dozens of phone calls later, you finally land a job opportunity.

                      But then, you’re asked about your salary requirements and your mind goes blank. So, you offer a lower salary believing this will increase your odds at getting hired.

                      Unfortunately, this is the wrong approach.

                      Your salary requirements can make or break your odds at getting hired. But only if you’re not prepared.

                      Ask for a salary too high with no room for negotiation and your potential employer will not be able to afford you. Aim too low and employers will perceive as you offering low value. The trick is to aim as high as possible while keeping both parties feel happy.

                      Of course, you can’t command a high price without bringing value.

                      The good news is that learning how to be a high-value employee is possible. You have to work on the right tasks to grow in the right areas. Here are a few tactics to negotiate your salary requirements with confidence.

                      1. Hack time to accomplish more than most

                      Do you want to get paid well for your hard work? Of course you do. I hate to break it to you, but so do most people.

                      With so much competition, this won’t be an easy task to achieve. That’s why you need to become a pro at time management.

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                      Do you know how much free time you have? Not the free time during your lunch break or after you’ve finished working at your day job. Rather, the free time when you’re looking at your phone or watching your favorite TV show.

                      Data from 2017 shows that Americans spend roughly 3 hours watching TV. This is time poorly spent if you’re not happy with your current lifestyle. Instead, focus on working on your goals whenever you have free time.

                      For example, if your commute to/from work is 1 hour, listen to an educational Podcast. If your lunch break is 30 minutes, read for 10 to 15 minutes. And if you have a busy life with only 30–60 minutes to spare after work, use this time to work on your personal goals.

                      Create a morning routine that will set you up for success every day. Start waking up 1 to 2 hours earlier to have more time to work on your most important tasks. Use tools like ATracker to break down which activities you’re spending the most time in.

                      It won’t be easy to analyze your entire day, so set boundaries. For example, if you have 4 hours of free time each day, spend at least 2 of these hours working on important tasks.

                      2. Set your own boundaries

                      Having a successful career isn’t always about the money. According to Gallup, about 70% of employees aren’t satisfied with their current jobs.[1]

                      Earning more money isn’t a bad thing, but choosing a higher salary over the traits that are the most important to you is. For example, if you enjoy spending time with your family, reject job offers requiring a lot of travel.

                      Here are some important traits to consider:

                      • Work and life balance – The last thing you’d want is a job that forces you to work 60+ hours each week. Unless this is the type of environment you’d want. Understand how your potential employer emphasizes work/life balance.
                      • Self-development opportunities – Having the option to grow within your company is important. Once you learn how to do your tasks well, you’ll start becoming less engaged. Choose a company that encourages employee growth.
                      • Company culture – The stereotypical cubicle job where one feels miserable doesn’t have to be your fate. Not all companies are equal in culture. Take, for example, Google, who invests heavily in keeping their employees happy.[2]

                      These are some of the most important traits to look for in a company, but there are others. Make it your mission to rank which traits are important to you. This way you’ll stop applying to the wrong companies and stay focused on what matters to you more.

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                      3. Continuously invest in yourself

                      Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make. Cliche I know, but true nonetheless.

                      You’ll grow as a person and gain confidence with the value you’ll be able to bring to others. Investing in yourself doesn’t have to be expensive. For example, you can read books to expand your knowledge in different fields.

                      Don’t get stuck into the habit of reading without a purpose. Instead, choose books that will help you expand in a field you’re looking to grow. At the same time, don’t limit yourself to reading books in one subject–create a healthy balance.

                      Podcasts are also a great medium to learn new subjects from experts in different fields. The best part is they’re free and you can consume them on your commute to/from work.

                      Paid education makes sense if you have little to no debt. If you decide to go back to school, be sure to apply for scholarships and grants to have the least amount of debt. Regardless of which route you take to make it a habit to grow every day.

                      It won’t be easy, but this will work to your advantage. Most people won’t spend most of their free time investing in themselves. This will allow you to grow faster than most, and stand out from your competition.

                      4. Document the value you bring

                      Resumes are a common way companies filter employees through the hiring process. Here’s the big secret: It’s not the only way you can showcase your skills.

                      To request for a higher salary than most, you have to do what most are unwilling to do. Since you’re already investing in yourself, make it a habit to showcase your skills online.

                      A great way to do this is to create your own website. Pick your first and last name as your domain name. If this domain is already taken, get creative and choose one that makes sense.

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                      Here are some ideas:

                      • joesmith.com
                      • joeasmith.com
                      • joesmithprojects.com

                      Nowadays, building a website is easy. Once you have your website setup, begin producing content. For example, if you a developer you can post the applications you’re building.

                      During your interviews, you’ll have an online reference to showcase your accomplishments. You can use your accomplishments to justify your salary requirements. Since most people don’t do this, you’ll have a higher chance of employers accepting your offer

                      5. Hide your salary requirements

                      Avoid giving you salary requirements early in the interview process.

                      But if you get asked early, deflect this question in a non-defensive manner. Explain to the employer that you’d like to understand your role better first. They’ll most likely agree with you; but if they don’t, give them a range.

                      The truth is great employers are more concerned about your skills and the value you bring to the company. They understand that a great employee is an investment, able to earn them more than their salary.

                      Remember that a job interview isn’t only for the employer, it’s also for you. If the employer is more interested in your salary requirements, this may not be a good sign. Use this question to gauge if the company you’re interviewing is worth working for.

                      6. Do just enough research

                      Research average salary compensation in your industry, then wing it.

                      Use tools like Glassdoor to research the average salary compensation for your industry. Then leverage LinkedIn’s company data that’s provided with its Pro membership. You can view a company’s employee growth and the total number of job openings.

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                      Use this information to make informed decisions when deciding on your salary requirements. But don’t limit yourself to the average salary range. Companies will usually pay you more for the value you have.

                      Big companies will often pay more than smaller ones.[3] Whatever your desired salary amount is, always ask for a higher amount. Employers will often reject your initial offer. In fact, offer a salary range that’ll give you and your employer enough room to negotiate.

                      7. Get compensated by your value

                      Asking for the salary you deserve is an art. On one end, you have to constantly invest in yourself to offer massive value. But this isn’t enough. You also have to become a great negotiator.

                      Imagine requesting a high salary and because you bring a lot of value, employers are willing to pay you this. Wouldn’t this be amazing?

                      Most settle for average because they’re not confident with what they have to offer. Most don’t invest in themselves because they’re not dedicated enough. But not you.

                      You know you deserve to get paid well, and you’re willing to put in the work. Yet, you won’t sacrifice your most important values over a higher salary.

                      The bottom line

                      You’ve got what it takes to succeed in your career. Invest in yourself, learn how to negotiate, and do research. The next time you’re asked about your salary requirements, you won’t fumble.

                      You’ll showcase your skills with confidence and get the salary you deserve. What’s holding you back now?

                      Featured photo credit: LinkedIn Sales Navigator via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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