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Free Money with Strings Attached: Loan Repayment

If you work in the public sector or in certain regions, charities or the government may help you out.

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Instead of no-strings-attached free money in the form of grants or scholarships, a growing number of government agencies and charities are offering to repay the educational loans of grad students who agree to take certain jobs, work in certain geographical areas, or commit to low-paying public service careers.

Some of these programs have quite a few hoops to jump through. The public service loan repayment program will pay off your balance only if you consolidate your loans into the income-based repayment plan, earn no more than 150 percent of the poverty line, make 10 years of payments, and work in public service for 10 years. Other loan repayment programs, however, require only a few years of work.

WARNING: Make sure to read the fine print of any loan forgiveness or loan repayment program, since a job change or relocation can mean a big financial penalty.

How to find loan repayment offers:

  1. Call your department head or university financial aid office for advice.
  2. Check with professional and trade associations in your field. They often maintain lists of loan repayment programs.
  3. Or you can start with this list of some of the most popular loan repayment programs:

Low-income public servants


Health professionals

Nationally: The federal government will repay up to $17,500 a year for medical professionals who serve in underserved areas. To find underserved areas that might qualify for loan repayment, click here.



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