How Volunteering Can Pay Off Your Student Loans Ranger student loan

Paying off your student loans by volunteering may seem counterintuitive, but there are ways in which such service efforts can help reduce the debt accumulated by attending college.

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There are programs that allow college graduates to volunteer and, in return, receive money to pay off student debt. A range of options are available, from government-backed programs such as AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps to platforms such as the Shared Harvest Fund.

Take Danny McGee, who earned a bachelor’s degree from Tufts University and a master’s degree from the University of Colorado Boulder. He racked up $ 85,000 in student loan debt and was working full-time as an engineer in Michigan, plus extra work, to pay it off. He told US News in 2018 that he didn’t want to do odd jobs or work in a restaurant, so he looked for opportunities to combine volunteering with extra income to make his student loan payments of $ 850 per month. and save money for the education of his own child.

This led him to Shared harvest fund, a Los Angeles-based digital platform that allows professionals to volunteer for social causes while reducing their student loan debt. Members who subscribe to the website can be connected to paid service opportunities with social businesses and startups.

Within the network, volunteer candidates register by creating a free profile and indicating their skills, talents and social causes that interest them, such as community development or homelessness. Jobs, which range from providing legal assistance and marketing services to bookkeeping and grant writing, range in pay from $ 200 to $ 1,000 per project and can often be done remotely.

If tied to a project, volunteers – which Shared Harvest calls “DebtFreelancers” – complete that project, then payment is made directly to the lender or student loan manager of their choice.

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Such service work also offers benefits such as flexible hours, the personal reward that comes from helping others, and a rewarding job that provides experience in other fields. Exposure to new experiences also makes volunteering a great way to build a professional network.

Shared Harvest is not the only avenue that allows people to pay off their student loan debt through service. Some volunteer programs that offer debt repayment assistance through service work require longer terms of service, typically at least a year.

AmeriCorps, a division of the Corporation for National and Community Service, is a government program that places people in service positions in the United States, ranging from helping with natural disaster relief efforts to conservation work. After completing their mandate, participants receive the Segal AmeriCorps Award for Education, an amount equal to the entire Pell Grant for the fiscal year in which the term of service was approved. The money can be used to pay off qualifying student loans.

The AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, another example, is a full-time program that includes travel costs, accommodation, basic expenses, and a living allowance for people between the ages of 18 and 26. AmeriCorps NCCC the service focuses on areas such as disaster relief, environmental programs, infrastructure improvements, and urban and rural development for 10 to 12 months in locations across the United States

During the service, participants can get forbearance on federally guaranteed student loans. After the service, all interest incurred during this period on student loans that were forborne will be paid, and participants will receive the Segal AmeriCorps Education Prize of approximately $ 6,000 which can be used to pay off qualified student loans.

Another AmeriCorps program, AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America, focuses on poverty reduction through partnerships with government agencies and nonprofit organizations. Participants in AmeriCorps VISTA, who work in an office working on tasks such as fundraising and grant writing, must commit to one year of full-time service and may serve up to five years in total.

Upon completion of their service requirements, volunteers are eligible for the Segal Prize for Education or a cash stipend of $ 1,800, in which case the volunteer may also be eligible for a cancellation of up to 15% of certain types of student loans.

There is also the National health service body under the US Department of Health and Human Services, a program with three loan repayment programs for licensed primary care professionals. For those in an eligible discipline, there is a two- or three-year commitment to serve part-time or full-time in an approved high-need and underserved area in exchange for funds for student loan repayment ranging from $ 25,000 to $ 100,000.

As a reminder, beyond volunteering, borrowers entering the public service may be eligible for the federal public service loan forgiveness program. Borrowers must complete a set of requirements for the PSLF, including working full-time in an eligible public service position for an eligible organization, and making 120 eligible monthly payments over 10 years as part of an approved repayment plan. . Then, the remaining balances on Federal Direct Student Loans are written off.

Doing good to others has many advantages: the community wins; you pay off your student debt, which improves your financial situation; and you build your network and your overall satisfaction.

There aren’t many real ‘win-winners’ in life, but for nonprofits and other organizations that receive service volunteers – and for volunteers who receive rewards in the form of money. pay off student loans – these kinds of programs are coming to a close.

About Janet Young

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