Those looking to attend colleges and universities may be hesitant because student loans can have a large impact on your income after graduating. The weight of this burden can seem overwhelming, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. You CAN ease the burden of student loan payments post-graduation! For those seeking ways to eliminate student loan debt, considering looking for jobs in the public sector.

Relief programs have been created to help students who seek out jobs for the public service industry. This sector is known to have lower paying jobs despite the work being essential to the well-being of our society.  That’s why the programs have offered loan relief programs that can often times overlap, offering huge benefits for new graduates.

Unfortunately, most people in the public sector aren’t aware of these benefits. Only a small portion of the potential millions offered have been collected between 2007 and 2015.  The program can prepare students for a great career in the public sector while also allowing them to quickly eliminate student loan debt, but getting the most out of this program requires planning.

Think Before You Choose a Student Loan

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, or PSLF, only forgives federal loans directly from the Education Department. That means you need to take out federal loans for them to be forgiven by the PSLF. Currently, you need to take out direct loans specifically. Some different federal loans can also apply, but they need to be conformed to a Federal Direct Consolidation Loan. All private loans will not be forgiven by this program.

Public Service Careers

You can receive awards from the PSLF program in a couple of ways, including being employed full time by the government or nonprofit agencies. That being said, if you’re looking to have student loans erased by the PSLF program, focus on majors that fall under these career paths. Look for careers in education, social service, healthcare or the arts. Don’t forget to double check and make sure the job you’re applying for qualifies for PSLF.

Pick a Proper Payment Plan

You only receive debt forgiveness once you’ve made 120 regular payments. Take this into consideration when looking at loan payments. For example, picking a loan that requires monthly payments over 10 years won’t give you the timeline you need to take advantage of PSLF since you’d hit the threshold of minimum payments by the time you’re done paying off your loans. It’s better to go off plans that are income based. Consider the REPAYE government plan. This allows about 10% of your income to go towards your loan payments. These smaller payments mean that it will take you longer to pay off the loans, but also allows you to make the most of your loan forgiveness.

Look at LRAP Schools

More and more colleges are offering loan repayment assistance programs, or LRAPs, to help ease the burden of student loan payments for those in the public sector. These programs were originally just to encourage students to pursue a law career. Considering the expense of law school and the low income made by public lawyers, these types of incentives have helped increase the amount public lawyers available.

Currently, there are around 70 private, religious and small colleges that also offer LRAPs with the help of the LRAP Association. LRAPs have different standards than government PSLF programs, but the LRAPs are a great option for people hoping to work in religious organizations, which usually have lower incomes. LRAPs can often cover your entire monthly loan payment for those earning less than $20,000 a year. People making under $40,000 can also benefit from partial payments.

LRAP Employers

More and more employers are starting to offer LRAP packages to their employees. These employer made payments still count to your 120 payment minimum for PSLF. Even employers in the private sectors are coming around to the idea of helping their employees with student loan payments. This change is in part due to wanting to help employees save for retirement, something that isn’t usually plausible for those employees burdened with student loan debt. Be sure to do your proper research and plan ahead so you can get the most out of loan forgiveness.