How Loan-Forgiveness Programs Can Help You Pay for Your MSW
You may not realize it, but as you are doing the hard work of helping others and solving big problems, there may be help available to you to pay back your student loan. In exchange for your valuable knowledge, skills and experience in areas where they are most needed, the government is sometimes willing to give back to you by forgiving a portion of your federal student loan debt. This way, not only are you giving back, you’re also getting the help you need to continue doing the work you love.
If you are currently holding student loan debt or are considering student loans as one way to finance your MSW education, look into these loan-forgiveness programs:
This program will forgive the federal student loan debt of those working in qualifying public service organizations, which include public health services, school-based services and more. The debt will only be forgiven after the holder has made 120 payments as part of his or her “qualifying repayment plan.” More information on Federal Student Aid can be found here.
This program grants $50,000 in student loan repayment to clinical social workers who complete two years of service in an area identified as high need. The program includes both full-time and part-time employment options. To be eligible, applicants must be U.S. citizens or nationals, licensed to practice in the state in which they will serve, have unpaid government or commercial education loans that are not consolidated with other non-education loans, work at a facility that is National Health Service Corps approved or located in a Health Professional Shortage Area, and practice as either a licensed clinical social worker or one of a dozen other health specialties. For a full list, see the NHSC laon repayment program.
The National Health Service Loan Repayment Program differs from the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program in that it may cover commercial loans and does not include the stringent repayment plan of the latter.
Federal agencies have the ability to establish their own student loan repayment programs to help recruit and retain employees. They are authorized to give employees up to $10,000 per calendar year for loan repayment, with a cumulative maximum of $60,000. These are slightly different from other loan-forgiveness programs since an employee is given loan payments that represent taxable income.
To find out if the federal agency you are working for or if an agency you are considering working for offers this program, reach out to its human resources department. Currently, 34 agencies are providing 10,134 students with more than $71.8 million in benefits. These include the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Health and Human Services and many more.
Other Loan-Forgiveness Programs
A handful of volunteer agencies also offer loan forgiveness programs that award a fixed sum for loan repayment in exchange for a predefined number of volunteer hours. These programs include AmeriCorps, which provides up to $7,400 in stipends and $4,725 for loan repayment in exchange for 12 months of service, and Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), which awards $4,725 for loan repayment upon completion of 1,700 hours of service. Both AmeriCorps and VISTA operate within the United States.
For social workers who would like an international volunteer experience, the Peace Corps provides partial forgiveness of Perkins Loans and deferment of other types of federal student loans in exchange for a two-year volunteer assignment in a developing country.
Earning your MSW degree may seem a costly prospect, but there are resources available to make your journey of becoming a better social worker a bit easier. For even more information about MSW financial aid, visit our MSW@USC financial aid and MSW@USC scholarship pages.
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