There are not any student loan forgiveness programs aimed specifically at single mothers, but there are a number of programs available that may be of help to women with children living at home. The first step for single moms who are looking for student loan forgiveness will be to determine whether they have private or federal loans. Private loans come with very few repayment options, but government loans have a host of ways that former students may get student loan forgiveness. Most of these ways involve working in service fields. Granted these fields often do not provide the best pay, but the student loan forgiveness rate should be considered as part of the benefits package.
Student Loan Forgiveness for Teachers
Single mothers often turn to teaching as a career field because Mom and child will have the same schedule, which saves significantly on childcare costs. Teachers who are in low-income, or Title I, school districts are eligible for student loan forgiveness for the first five years’ of teaching service. Teachers who go into “areas of need,” which includes the hard sciences and foreign language instruction, also are eligible for forgiveness of a portion of student loans regardless of the financial stability of the students who attend the school.
Student Loan Forgiveness for Military Service
People who serve in the military and also have student loans, are often are eligible for public service student loan forgiveness, which in many cases will discharge the entirety of a student loan debt. Single mothers may not be interested in full-time military service, but many of these benefits are available to National Guard – or “part-time” – soldiers as well.
Student Loan Forgiveness for Volunteers
Both Peace Corps and Americorps offer loan forgiveness programs. The Peace Corps is not available to people who will be taking their children with them as Peace Corps volunteers, so plan to have to leave your child with his or her other parent or with relatives for up to 2 years if you plan to go this route. Americorps is available to people who want to do significant community service at home. Americorps volunteers can get up to $7,400 of their student loans deferred for up to four years of service in addition to a financial stipend that volunteers receive.
Legal and Medical Student Loan Forgiveness
Some legal and medical schools provide student loan forgiveness for certain students. Most of these programs, which are run through specific schools, require students to go into “public service” areas. For legal students, public services areas usually mean becoming a public defender or representing low-income defendants through legal clinics. Single mothers often find themselves eligible for these services, and single mothers hoping to become lawyers may find solace in getting loans forgiven and being able to help others in a similar situation.
Medical students who want student loan forgiveness often agree to work in low-income areas for a number of years after medical schools. These newly-minted doctors may work in clinics in poverty-stricken neighborhoods, or they may work on reservations or in under-staffed public hospitals.
Repayment Options for Student Loans
In many cases, the best option will be restructuring the student loan payment process. The government offers a host of ways that students can structure the repayment of their student loans to assist with repayment. The standard repayment plan calls for total repayment in 10 years. If that is not possible, a graduated repayment plan can help students who wish to start out paying a small amount and then increase gradually, usually each 12 to 24 months. These plans allow students to become settled in their careers as their payments increase.
The graduated repayment plan, which actually allows borrowers up to 25 years to repay, allows students to pay only a portion of their loan principle each month, not to exceed a certain percentage of the student’s monthly income. The percentage allowed varies based on when a student took out a loan.
If these programs to obtain loan forgiveness don’t work, single mothers can look for grants or scholarships to continue their studies if needed. Contacting a local support agency or social services may help put single women in touch with lesser-known resources that can offer assistance.
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