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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.

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            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.

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                    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.

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

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                      Last Updated on March 4, 2019

                      How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

                      How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

                      Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

                      I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

                      Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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                      Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

                      Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

                      Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

                      I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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                      I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

                      If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

                      Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

                      The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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                      Using Credit Cards with Rewards

                      Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

                      You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

                      I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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                      So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

                      What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

                      Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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