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Bottom Line Up Front

  • Loan forgiveness is available for people who work in certain federal, state, tribal, government or nonprofit jobs. 
  • Some careers offer student loan relief for dedicated professionals in essential fields.
  • Servicemembers could be eligible for student loan forgiveness, depending on their branch of the military.

Time to Read

5 minutes

May 3, 2024

Repaying student loans can feel overwhelming. But thankfully, there are programs and grants that could help you pay off your loans faster or even eliminate your student debt altogether. 

From federal relief programs and career-based loan forgiveness to volunteer opportunities and post-graduation scholarships, this guide is designed to help you explore more than 20 programs and grants that could help you pay off student loans.

Federal Student Loan Relief Programs

The following US government programs are available to provide student loan cancellation or forgiveness for those who are eligible:

  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF): If you’ve made 120 qualifying monthly payments while working full time for qualifying employers in the public service sector, you could be eligible for forgiveness of your remaining federal student loan balances.
  • Federal Perkins Loan Forgiveness: If you have a Federal Perkins Loan and work in teaching, health care or law enforcement, you could be eligible to have your loan forgiven or partially forgiven. You could also be eligible if you’re in the military, work for a nonprofit or work with people with disabilities. 
  • Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plan Forgiveness: Under the new Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) program, you could be eligible for full loan forgiveness after 10 years of monthly payments. SAVE replaced the Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) Repayment Plan in 2023.

Note that these programs may change in the future. For more information about federal student loans, check out the Federal Student Aid website. To explore other programs and current grants to pay off student loans, visit the National Consumer Law Center’s student loan resource hub.

Servicemember Student Loan Grants and Programs

Other student loan forgiveness programs are based on military service, including: 



  • Loan Repayment Program: This program gives Navy personnel up to $65,000 toward federally guaranteed student loans over a maximum 3-year term. The annual amount of the grant is up to 33.3% of the outstanding loan balance or $1,500 per year, whichever is larger. For information, check with your Navy contact.

Air Force

Volunteer Programs With Student Loan Debt Relief

Volunteering offers a unique path to tackle your student loans while gaining valuable experience and making a difference. In fact, some programs offer direct student loan relief, including:

  • AmeriCorps: After completing an AmeriCorps term of service and enrolling in the National Service Trust, members are eligible to receive the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award. The maximum amount of the award changes yearly based on the Pell Grant amount. In 2022-2023, it was $6,895.
  • Peace Corps: While there is no monetary grant for service, you can defer federal student loan payments during your Peace Corps service. If you have Perkins Loans, you may be eligible for partial forgiveness of 15% to 70% of the balance after completing your service commitment and meeting other requirements.
  • Shared Harvest Fund: This program uses a point system instead of direct grant awards. You can earn points through volunteering, then redeem them for student loan debt relief in varying amounts depending on the program’s partnerships and available funding.

Careers That Could Help You Pay Off Student Loans

Did you know that some careers come with opportunities for student loan forgiveness? These programs reward dedicated professionals in essential fields by erasing a portion–or even all–of their debt.

Health Care



  • Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program: Work for the Department of Justice, and you could receive up to $6,000 (up to $60,000 lifetime max) toward your federal student loans after a 3-year commitment.
  • John R. Justice (JRJ) Grant Program: After 3 to 6 years of service, public defenders and state prosecutors are eligible for up to $10,000 per year ($60,000 in total) in student loan relief.
  • Herbert S. Garten Loan Repayment Assistance Program: Attorneys with at least $75,000 in student debt and who are working with one of the program’s grantees can be selected through a lottery system. Those selected may receive forgivable loans for up to 3 years, totaling as much as $5,600. 

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)

Post-Graduation Scholarships for Loan Relief

Remember those scholarships you chased before college? Fortunately, scholarships aren’t just for pre-grads. Post-graduation scholarships exist to help graduates tackle student loan debt:

  • State-Specific Programs: Many states offer post-graduation scholarships for various fields such as health care, education and technology. Research your state’s education department website for available options.
  • Industry-Specific Awards: Professional organizations and companies sometimes offer scholarships or grants to pay off student loans. Reach out to relevant associations and check their websites for potential opportunities.
  • Private Company Incentives: Increasingly, employers are offering student loan repayment and reimbursement as part of a total rewards or total compensation package. Even if not explicitly listed as a benefit, you may find that a potential employer is willing to negotiate this benefit with you.

Learn More in Our College Planning Resource Center

You don’t have to navigate student loan repayment alone. As you’re researching scholarships, programs or grants to pay off student loans, be sure to check out Navy Federal Credit Union’s College Planning resource center. You’ll find a wealth of support to help you conquer your student loan debt and achieve financial freedom.

Visit our College Planning resource center today or schedule a consultation with a Navy Federal financial counselor for personalized guidance on repaying student loans

Next Steps Next Steps

  1. Identify your loan types and servicer by signing in to your Federal Student Aid account to access your loan details. Explore available federal repayment options for your loans. Research PSLF, IDR and other programs to see if you qualify.
  2. Investigate options that may be available to you based on your work history, military service, organizations you volunteer with and the state you live in.
  3. Take advantage of the many loan repayment resources in our College Planning resource center. Or, as part of your Navy Federal membership, you can schedule a no-cost consultation with a financial counselor for personalized guidance on loan repayment strategies and financial planning.


This content is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.