Members of the class of 2016 will start their final year of college in a couple of weeks. In May, they will earn diplomas and the title of most-indebted graduating class ever. Trends show that with each school year, a new class of students becomes more indebted than the last. The class of 2014 owed an average of $33,000 in 2014. That figure rose to $35,000 in 2015.
A Pew Charitable Trusts survey released recently showed that over 50 percent of black and Latino Generation Xers and Millennials regretted owing so much. Just 32 percent of their white counterparts felt the same. This difference might be due to the unequal access to higher education, knowledge about financing tools, and monetary family support that the three groups experience. That sort of hesitance toward student loans is likely linked to whites having greater debt than Blacks and Latinos.
However, there are career paths open to anyone that could make the student debt burden more bearable. Some can even lead to a good chunk of those federal loans being forgiven.
These six careers can lead to someone else picking up the tab for your loans.
1) Become a Teacher
But not just any teacher. According to Education Department guidelines, public-school teachers can get up to $17,500 of their loans forgiven if they teach math or science for five consecutive years at a federally designated low-income secondary school, or if they work for five years as a special education teacher at a federally designated low-income elementary or secondary school.
Other teachers at public elementary or secondary schools can qualify for up to $5,000 in loan forgiveness.
Those schools must qualify for funds under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, have at least 30 percent of students that qualify for Title I services, and make it on to the Education Department's Teacher Cancellation Low Income Directory.
Teachers with federal Perkins loans can get all of their loans forgiven if they teach for five consecutive years in a school that serves low-income families, teach special education, math, science, foreign language, bilingual education, or in an area where there is a shortage of teachers.
2) Become a Civil Servant
Federal, state, or local government agency workers can have their student loans forgiven after 120 monthly loan payments as part of Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Paid consecutively, that's just 10 years of service and in any job — from a staff assistant to a program director.
3) Work for the Public Good
People who serve in hostile zones in every branch of the military; social workers for families in low-income and high-risk areas, law enforcement and corrections officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, public defenders, and nurses can get all of their Perkins loans forgiven.
Didn't get to study abroad in college? Join the Peace Corps and travel the world, while also qualifying for student loan forgiveness. Both the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps qualify under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Volunteers with Federal Perkins loans can get up to 70 percent of their loans forgiven after completing their service.
5) Work for a Nonprofit
But it has to qualify for tax-exempt status by the IRS, and cannot be a labor union or partisan political organization. For people who work for religious organizations, time spent "on religious instruction, worship services, or any form of proselytizing" does not qualify, according to the Education Department.
6) Move to Another State
Different states have specific programs for loan forgiveness. Become a dentist in Kansas and receive up to $30,000 annually for two years. Become a primary-health-care provider in California for five years and receive up to $160,000 in forgiveness. Or even become a large-animal veterinarian in Minnesota to receive $15,000 for five years of work.
Or you can just move to Niagara Falls, New York, and cash in on the city's need to attract young people — $7,000 over two years.
This story is part of our Next America: Workforce project, which is supported by a grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
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