Financial Planning
Money Management
Credit and Debt
Consumer Issues
Life Events

Use our online interactive calculators to help manage your finances.

Email a Friend

It's Payback Time...

By Jose Vazquez

Why not let someone else pay off your student loans?

After four plus years of college (emphasis on the plus for some of us), and what may be thousands of dollars in loans, you've finally left campus and ventured into the real world with that new degree. Problem is, you have a new worry: how are you going to pay it all back?

Luckily, you have options that can help reduce your debt or clear it completely off your personal balance sheet, leaving you free to spend your money on more important things. (Like that new 60-inch flat screen plasma TV you've been dying to play your X-Box on!)

Uncle Sam Can Help

You can always count on the military to provide some of the best educational benefits around. The Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and even the Coast Guard, have some form of loan payback program for enlisting after college.

The U.S. Army's program pays back up to $65,000 dollars worth of loans over three years! Generally, most programs pay back your loans over your time of enlistment.

Think about it. Not only do you get paid for your military specialty, you also come out with your debts cleared, and even more career enhancing options become available. For instance, if you take part in the GI Bill there are other military educational programs available to help you pay for continued higher education, such as that graduate degree you were considering.

U.S. Peace Corps

If the possibility of going to war doesn't excite you, how about the opportunity to help struggling nations thrive? The U.S. Peace Corps focuses on development of small and larger nations in farming, economics, and education.

If you have Perkins Loans (loans guaranteed by your school rather than a bank or the federal government), you can receive 15 percent cancellation of your loan amount per year of service. After two years of service, 30 percent of your loans would be canceled. If you have a $10,000 Perkins loan debt, $3,000 will be canceled when your tour of duty is over.

For other federally guaranteed loans, you will be eligible for a deferment of your loans for your length of service, which typically lasts two years. After your service, you are even eligible for advanced hiring status for federal jobs you may be interested for the first year. All around, the Peace Corps can be a good way of canceling some debt and padding your résumé, as well putting yourself ahead of the government job curve.

Teacher payback incentives. Now more than ever, teachers are in high demand. To help fill the need, states like California, Illinois, and many others are offering incentives for teachers that include loan payback or cancellation.

Often, the teaching requirement includes four to five years of service at underserved schools. A search of the site turned up other loan repayment programs in exchange for teaching at various levels. To learn more about state teaching loan payback programs, contact the local recruiting office of your state education department.

Overall, government programs have great ways of paying off your loan debt. But don't be afraid to shop around. Some companies and other state governments have payback programs of their own. Check with your school's career and recruiting office to find out which companies are offering to help invest in your future, by helping pay for your past.

Jose Vazquez, a marketing major at Western Illinois University, has been awarded 27 scholarships, amassing more than $75,000 in aid to date. He is the author of the book Free Cash For College: The Everyday Student's Guide To Financial Aid. Vazquez is also a public speaker who gives seminars on financial aid and scholarship strategy for universities and corporations interested in work-life initiatives. He can be reached at [email protected].