Worried about how you’re going to pay for college?
It’s a valid concern. The average college student graduates with nearly $30,000 in debt that they’ll spend the next 20 years repaying. It’s disconcerting to think about paying off loans until you’re in your 40s — especially while you’re juggling a career and a family!
Did you know that you can look for private and public donors that pay off student loans? From charities to celebrities to crowdfunding, there’s a variety of student loan payment help out there. You just have to know where to look.
In this post, we’ll give you some ideas for finding the best donors to pay loans. We’ll also talk about some popular loan repayment programs to help you banish that debt once and for all. Read on to learn more!
Charities That Pay off Student Loans
Even if you were lucky enough to receive some grants you don’t have to repay, chances are there’s some other debt you’re stuck with. Or are you?
Let’s start our discussion by looking at some charity organizations that can help you pay off some (or all) of your student loan debt.
Imagine an organization with a goal to abolish debts and the stress and anxiety they bring. They buy debt that the borrower is unlikely or unable to pay back and sell it for pennies on the dollar to investors. Best of all, it’s 100% true debt forgiveness, freeing the borrower of the financial burden.
If this sounds too good to be true, you should get acquainted with the Rolling Jubilee Fund. To date, they’ve helped to abolish over $743 million in student loans, medical bills, mortgages, and other types of debt. It’s part of a larger Debt Collective project dedicated to helping Americans get out of debt.
How does it work, exactly?
They purchase bundles of debt from a bank at a discounted price and then, rather than trying to collect it, they cancel it. Then they ask beneficiaries to kindly pay it forward and donate to the organization. This creates the “rolling” aspect that allows the concept to work.
We love this concept, but you should know one thing: There’s no way to request that Rolling Jubilee take on your specific debt load. Rather, if your account happens to be one of the ones they purchase and cancel, they’ll notify you.
This doesn’t exactly count as a charity, but there are some similarities worth noting.
AmeriCorps is a government-sponsored program that offers some loan forgiveness in exchange for volunteer service. Each year, more than 270,000 individuals volunteer in 40,000 different communities nationwide.
Common projects for AmeriCorps volunteers include:
- Disaster response
- Wildlife conservation
- National Park preservation
- Educational efforts in private and public school
- Literacy classes
- Food banks and homeless shelters
- Assisting veterans and military families
If you have the volunteer spirit, you could spend a year or more working with AmeriCorps. You’ll receive a modest living allowance to cover your basic expenses during your service.
In exchange, you get to take a break from student loan payments during the length of your service. Depending on the program you enter, you can also get some or all of the interest discharged during this time.
If you plan to continue your education, here’s another perk: For every 12 months of service you complete, you’ll receive the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award towards future studies. This is equivalent to the maximum amount of the Pell Grant for that year — in 2021, this equals $6,345.
Even if you’re not planning to pursue further education, you can still count your time with AmeriCorps towards the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. (We’ll get to that option a bit later!)
The Shared Harvest Fund
As their name implies, the Shared Harvest Fund focuses on connecting those with student debt to volunteer projects in their field. In exchange, they receive grants or loan repayment assistance (or both).
Since the start of the pandemic, however, Shared Harvest has shifted its focus primarily to frontline healthcare workers. This includes:
- Physician assistants
- Emergency medical technicians
- Certified nursing assistants
- Nutrition coaches
- Social workers
If you work in any of these fields and you still have outstanding student loans, you could volunteer in exchange for debt relief. You’ll pay off debt faster while helping those in need, which is a win-win for everyone.
National Health Service Corps
If you’re a medical, dental, or behavioral health specialist, you can qualify for up to $50,000 in medical school loan forgiveness by volunteering with the National Health Service Corps. The goal is to bring much-needed healthcare services to underserved parts of the country.
To enter the program, you’ll need one of the following credentials:
- Medicine: MD, DO, CNM, PA, NP
- Behavioral Health: HSP, LCSW, MFT, LPC, PNS
- Dentistry: DDS, DMD, dental hygienists
Next, you’ll need to be willing to relocate to a high-need area for a period of two years. This could be in an urban or a rural area.
A nice perk of this program is that you receive the payment at the beginning of your service term, not the end. This will help you save a lot on interest charges during those two years. Bonus: The payment is exempt from federal income tax.
Celebrity Donors That Pay off Student Loans
You may have seen headlines in the news about celebrities that place a high priority on education and debt relief. Many regularly make large contributions to students in need. Some have even started their own scholarship programs or private foundations.
We can’t guarantee you’ll get an offer from a famous pop star to pay off your student loans, but it doesn’t hurt to be aware of the opportunities. Here are some celebrities that have made generous contributions to individuals and groups of students.
Is there anything Oprah hasn’t done? Her list of credentials includes donating $13 million in scholarship money to Atlanta’s Morehouse College.
On one of her shows in 2018, Ellen generously donated large sums of money to college students in her audience. This included a $50,000 award to a Cal State Fullerton nursing student.
Beyonce sponsors a Homecoming Scholars Award Program for students that attend four historically black colleges and universities. The program awards a $25,000 scholarship each year to one student at each of the schools.
Beyonce’s husband, Jay-Z, also has a soft spot for helping students in need. His Shawn Carter Foundation has awarded over $4 million in scholarship funds to students across the nation. Anyone who is a US citizen under the age of 25 with at least a 2.0 GPA is eligible to apply.
Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation has given more than 7,000 students access to education. Specifically, the Global Scholarship Program gives money to students from South America and the Caribbean to attend universities in the US.
Robert F. Smith
CEO and philanthropist Robert F. Smith made headlines in 2019 when he announced he would pay off all student debt for the current graduating class. He went a step further and paid off all their parents’ student debt too, which amounted to a whopping $34 million.
Superstar Taylor Swift took notice when one of her fans posted that she wouldn’t be able to pay her college tuition that semester because her mother was sick. The star quietly transferred over $5,000 to the girl’s bank account so she could stay in school.
Supermodel Chrissy Teigen made one big dream come true for a North Carolina woman. Through the YouCaring crowdfunding platform, she donated 94% of the requested amount — over $5,500 — to help the student attend esthetician school.
Rapper Nicki Minaj is passionate about telling her fans to stay in school and finish their education. In 2017, she ran a contest and eventually paid for tuition costs or loans for 37 lucky winners.
Crowdfunding for Outstanding Student Loans
Let’s be honest — the chances of a generous billionaire paying off your student loans are pretty slim. However, there are still plenty of people out there who are willing to help out for a good cause.
If you’ve done everything in your power to finance your education, from student loans to work-study programs, crowdfunding can help to make up the difference. Here are some popular platforms to consider:
How does crowdfunding work? You create a campaign and then promote it yourself to raise funds for your cause (in this case, paying off outstanding student loans). People can then make donations publically or privately through a secure platform.
You’d be surprised who donates to crowdfunding efforts. When you share your campaign on social media, you may receive donations from extended family members, old friends, or even complete strangers. By asking many people for small amounts of money (rather than finding a few donors that can give large contributions), you can raise a good chunk of cash to pay off those student loans!
If you’re thinking of going this route, take some time to compare the different platforms. Many charge a fee for running a campaign or they take a percentage of your donations, so weigh the pros and cons of each setup.
You’ll also have the best chances of success if you set realistic, achievable goals. Promote your campaign regularly on social media, but don’t overdo it. Put the word out there and then sit back and wait — you’ll be amazed at the results!
Other Loan Repayment Programs & Options
If you can’t get the results you need through private donors that pay off student loans, don’t give up. You still have choices available to lower your payments and interest rates and pay off your student loans faster.
Here are some final options to consider.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness
If you work for the government or a nonprofit organization, you could qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. You’ll make 10 years’ worth of payments (120 in total) on an income-driven repayment plan. After that, you can petition the government to eliminate your remaining student loan debt.
Bonus: If you volunteered with AmeriCorps, one of the programs mentioned earlier, this time counts towards the 10 years.
Federal Student Loan Repayment Program
As an initiative to attract top talent, many government agencies partner with the Federal Student Loan Repayment Program. Under this arrangement, the employer pays up to $10,000 per calendar year towards an employees’ student loan debt.
Individual State Loan Repayment Programs
Each state offers its own loan repayment programs to professionals who are willing to work in high-need areas or fields (for example, the healthcare industry). Take the time to research options that are available in your state.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness
Are you a teacher who would be willing to work in a low-income public school for five years? If so, you could receive up to $17,500 under the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program.
Bonus tip: There are similar programs available to lawyers, nurses, and scientists.
Military Student Loan Forgiveness
Enrolling in the military before or after your college education is a sure way to receive financial assistance. Military academies such as West Point provide every student with a 100% full-tuition scholarship.
Otherwise, if you enroll in the Army, Air Force, Navy, National Guard, or Coast Guard, you’re likely eligible for different loan forgiveness programs. If you become physically disabled during your service, you’re also automatically granted debt forgiveness as a qualifying veteran.
Where to Find the Best Donors to Pay Loans
It’s no secret that a college education and college life, in general, isn’t cheap. Most students have to take out some type of loan to help finance their studies.
The good news is that you don’t have to carry that weight around for decades after you graduate. With a little bit of time and effort, you can find willing donors that pay off student loans.
You could reach out to celebrities or take advantage of charities that pay off student loans. You might also consider crowdfunding or loan repayment programs for professionals in your field or locale.
Would you like more helpful advice about how to pay for college? Check out our recent post for more insider tips.