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Giving Back to the Community Can Pay off for Those with Student Loans

By S.Z. Berg

NEW YORK (MainStreet)--Rather than pay back their student loans, young professionals can get them forgiven by giving back to the community.

The federal government and many state governments, as well as a handful of organizations, offer forgiveness programs in order to get services provided in needed professions and in specific areas of the country.

In addition to the better known programs, such as AmeriCorps and the military, there are many lesser-known, career-based student loan forgiveness programs. Some programs are state specific and others are loan specific. For example, there's a long list of professions, from attorneys serving in the federal government to school librarians to nurses and medical technicians that can get forgiveness for their Perkins loans.

If your main goal is to ditch your debt, you'll have to do the math. Qualifying jobs are paid work, but in some cases you may not be earning as much as you would in the private sector.

You'll have to determine if the value of the loan repayment compensates for the lost earnings.

Keep in mind, too, that the IRS considers many types of loan forgiveness as taxable income.

The nonprofit American Student Assistance recently published a free downloadable eBook called 60 Ways To Get Rid Of Your Student Loans (Without Paying Them), a comprehensive listing of available loan forgiveness programs. However, the organization notes that it's an incomplete listing, and students with loans should check out other potential resources, such as employers and trade organizations.

--Written by S.Z. Berg, author of College on the Cheap, for MainStreet