7 Unconventional Ways to Eliminate Student Loan Debt

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student loan debtHave you ever the heard the funny joke about how a nuclear bomb could explode on your town, and everything would die except for the rats and cockroaches? Of course, the point is that they are virtually indestructible.

Well, in the world of money and personal finance, federal student loan debt is like the cockroach that can’t be destroyed. You could go through multiple bankruptcies and your student loan debt could still be there staring and taunting you until you paid it off. (Note: To be honest, in certain rare instances of bankruptcy, it is possible for a portion or all your student loan debt to be cancelled.)

And check out this statistic. As of 2013, the amount of outstanding federal student loan debt had crossed the $1 trillion mark. Holy Crap, Batman! It’s no wonder that some members of Congress have called student loan debt a ticking time bomb.

But unless your family is wealthy or you somehow rope a full scholarship, it’s extremely difficult to attend college without student loans. I used government loans to help me get through university and couldn’t have finished my education with them.

So, short of robbing a bank, what is someone to do to cancel their student loan debt? Well, the only real chance at having your debt completely erased overnight is if you die or become permanently disabled and unable to work. Closure of a school might be another way.

Creative Ways to Eliminate Student Loan Debt

But here are seven under-the-radar ways to eliminate student loan debt that you may want to consider to get a portion or all of the money you owe canceled. These areas specifically apply to the Federal Perkins Loan Program.

1. Get involved with AmeriCorp – When you volunteer for this program, you’re agreeing to donate a year of your time to help a non-profit or faith-based organization, or a community. Under this program, you actually earn money and get your debt paid down at the same time. One year of service pays you around $7,500 and the government will knock off another $4700 from your student loans.

2. Join the Peace Corp. – This organization has been around since the 1960’s. It’s similar to AmeriCorp, except in this case you’re volunteering to help communities and organizations outside of the United States. Your service will result in reducing your student loans by 15% for each year you remain involved.

3. Participate in Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) – This is a lesser known volunteer program that has been around as long as the Peace Corp. It’s mission is to help fight poverty inside the United States. Once you give 1700 hours of your time, you’ll be able to shave nearly $5000 off your student loans.

4. Join the military – Before you enlist, check with the specific military branch you’re thinking of joining. Not all of them have loan repayment or forgiveness programs.

5. Become a teacher – If you are willing to become a teacher in a low-income area or teach a subject that is experiencing a teacher shortage, you’d be eligible for loan forgiveness. Basically, after you’ve taught for 5 consecutive years, you could have as much as $17,500 of your loans erased. However, this would not apply to PLUS loans. Click here to learn more.

6. Become a nurse or medical technician – This is similar to the situation with teachers, in that you could get some or all of your student loan debt forgiven if you take a healthcare job in a hardship community that is in need of your services. Other medical disciplines may also qualify.

7. Get a government job – This will depend on the federal agency, of course. But some of them use student loan forgiveness as a way to recruit quality candidates.

As you can see, there are a number of creative ways to eliminate student loan debt in part or in whole. Some of them, like joining the Peace Corp might not work for you because of family and logistical issues. But getting a job as a teacher in a rural community or seeking employment with the government are more doable. So perform a little research and check out http://studentaid.ed.gov/ to see what’s possible.