California Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
People who are looking for help with student loan repayment might be eligible for student loan forgiveness depending on their profession and where they work. Federal student loans could be forgiven or discharged in certain cases. At the federal level, there are the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and Teacher Loan Forgiveness programs (note that private student loan debt isn't eligible for these programs). But if you live in California, don't overlook the state-based loan forgiveness programs that may be able to help you escape your student debt.
How to Get Student Loan Forgiveness in California
In California, there are around 4.2 million student loan borrowers, and the total debt for people in the state is around $130 billion, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. With such staggering numbers, there are people searching for solutions to get out from beneath the burden of student loan debt.
One option is to consider student loan forgiveness programs offered by the U.S. Department of Education. There are federal loan forgiveness programs aimed at individuals who work in public service, for example. If you graduate and get a job at a nonprofit or you work in the government, you may qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. To be eligible, you need to make 10 years of monthly payments and be employed for the same length of time.
The State of California also offers some options. Most of these California student loan forgiveness programs are geared toward people in specific professions in certain locations in the state.
Here are some California student loan forgiveness programs worth considering:
- California State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP)
- Allied Healthcare Loan Repayment Program
- Bachelor of Science Nursing Loan Repayment Program
- County Medical Services Program Loan Repayment Program
- Dental Student Loan Forgiveness Program
- Teacher Loan Forgiveness Programs
California State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP)
The California State Loan Repayment Program aims to help boost the number of healthcare workers in the state. Authorized by Congress in 1987, the program can help repay qualified educational loans for certain primary healthcare professionals. Award amounts vary depending on whether someone is working full-time or half-time. They start at $50,000 for an initial full-time, two-year initial obligation.
The be eligible for this California loan forgiveness program, you must meet the following standards:
- You have to work for a two-year full-time or four-year half-time service commitment. There are also one-year additional extensions available after completing the initial service term.
- The provider practice where you work has to be listed on the SLRP Practice sites list.
- Eligibility requires a valid, unrestricted license to practice in California.
- The practice site where you work has to be in a federally designated Health Professional Shortage Area.
- The facility where you work should be a not-for-profit, outpatient facility and it should provide reduced or free services to people at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
How to Apply
You can apply online on OSHPD.ca.gov. You can apply between Aug. 1 and Oct. 1. All applications must be submitted before the closing date, but site administrators can submit Practice Site Profiles throughout the year.
Allied Healthcare Loan Repayment Program
The Allied Healthcare Loan Repayment Program aims to help increase the number of allied healthcare professionals in areas of California considered medically underserved. Recipients have to agree to practice full-time direct patient care at a facility in the state considered qualified for a 12-month period. The loan repayments are available up to $16,000.
The following are some of the borrower requirements to qualify for the Allied Healthcare Loan Repayment program:
- Eligibility requires the applicant to be licensed and practice in an Allied Healthcare profession. Examples include anesthesia technician, audiologist, dental hygienist, occupational therapy assistant or a surgical technologist.
- The applicant should be providing direct patient care for at least 32 hours a week.
- Outstanding debt can be from the U.S. government or a commercial lender.
- Applicants should be in good standing with their licensing or certification organization.
How To Apply
You can apply on the CalReach website. The application cycle is open from Aug. 1 to Oct. 9. A worksite roster on the website allows people to see if where they work qualifies as being located in a shortage area.
Bachelor of Science Nursing Loan Repayment Program
This California loan forgiveness program is offered through the Health Professions Education Foundation. The Bachelor of Science Nursing Loan Repayment Program is awarded up to $10,000. If someone is awarded this, they have to commit to practicing direct patient care for one year at a qualified California facility. The award can be issued up to three times.
To be eligible for this California loan forgiveness program, applicants should have the following:
- You should have a BSN degree and be licensed as a Registered Nurse in California
- Practice as an RN and provide direct patient care
- Working a Medically Underserved Area, Health Professional Shortage Area, County, State prison, or Veteran’s facility
- Not have any other service obligation
- Be willing to work in the medically underserved area for a year
How to Apply
The application is available on the OSHPD Funding Portal Site. The application cycle runs from Aug. 1 to Oct. 9, and you can go to the OSHPD website to determine if where you work is in a qualifying area. The award for a full-time two-year commitment working 40 hours a week is up to $50,000. The half-time award, which requires a two-year commitment working 20 hours a week is a maximum of $25,000.
County Medical Services Program Loan Repayment Program
The County Medical Services Program Loan Repayment Program helps pay certain student loans for primary healthcare providers. They must provide healthcare services at certain sites in 35 designated CMSP counties.
The following are eligibility requirements for this award:
- You need an unrestricted and valid license to practice in California
- You can’t have other service commitments or obligations
- You should be current on all child support payments
- You have to be employed at an eligible site in one of 35 CMSP counties
- Eligible disciplines include dentistry, medicine, primary care nurse practitioner, or primary care physician assistant
- All participate practice sites need to have a fully executed contract with the County Medical Services Program Governing Board by the deadline of March 16, 2019
- Approved primary care specialties include family medicine, general internal medicine, general psychiatrists, and obstetrics/gynecology
How to Apply
Providers can submit an application by visiting the CalReach website and providing all of the annual information. There are variations in the application cycle year-to-year, but usually the cycles start at the beginning of the year.
Dental Student Loan Forgiveness Program
Students who have graduated with a degree in general dentistry or in a specialized dental field can look for student loan debt forgiveness opportunities. Specifically, the California Dental Association (CDA) Foundationoffers a loan repayment grant that is worth up to nearly $35,000 in forgiveness a year. It is also renewable for up to 36 months for a maximum of $105,000.
There are eligibility requirements that must be met in order to receive student loan forgiveness, including:
- Must be a U.S. resident or legal citizen—and provide proof
- Must be a graduate from an ADA dental school, with qualifying accreditation
- If not a current graduate, must be set to graduate within a 90-day period of time post-application
- Must be eligible and hold all necessary licenses (or be willing to get them) to practice dentistry in the state of California
- Must have student loan debt from education in the dental field
- Must have secured or be working at an eligible site, according to the CDA, and work in an area that is economically depressed or lacking in dental care
- Must commit by contract to work within the shortage area for at least three years
- Must have student loans within good standing, without any judgments or default
How to Apply
People who are eligible can visit the CDA’s website to apply. Applications are accepted between May 1 to July 31. For grant runners-up, the Webb Family Grant offers up to $5,000 that can be used for education expenses.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness Programs
Some states offer teacher loan forgiveness programs to help teachers with educational debt. At one point, California did as well. There was the Assumption Program of Loans for Education or APLE. The program was a way to incentivize teachers to work at certain places in California. However, that is no longer being funded.
There are federal teacher loan forgiveness programs available, however. Under the federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program, if you teach full-time for five full, consecutive academic years in a school designated as low-income or you work in an educational service agency, you may be eligible for forgiveness. Loan forgiveness is available up to $17,500 on Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans as well as Federal Stafford Loans.
To be eligible for the federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program, you should find a qualified school in California. This can include an elementary or secondary school that serves low-income students. The loans that you want forgiveness for should have been made before the end of your qualifying teaching service.
Author: Dave Rathmanner
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