Grants to Pay Off Student Loans
If you’re one of the roughly 45 million Americans with student loan debt, you may already know about loan forgiveness and special repayment plans — however, there are also grants to pay off student loans.
You can find these student loan grants via federal and state government-funded programs, as well as nonprofit organizations. But while many of these grants might be easy to get, most of the opportunities come with service or employment requirements.
26 grants to pay off student loans
Wondering how to get rid of student loans? There are plenty of available free grants to pay off debt and student loan forgiveness programs, based on your profession, where you work and how long you’ve carried your student loans.
Here are some general categories to help narrow your search:
- Health care professional grants
- Veterinarian grants
- Teacher grants
- Lawyer grants
- Research grants
- Military grants
- State grants
- Volunteer and nonprofit grants
- Employer-sponsored grants
Grants for health care professionals
1. National Health Service Corps loan repayment program
The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) provides a grant designed to help doctors, dentists, nurse practitioners, mental health providers and other health care professionals reduce their overall student loan debt.
If you do two years of full-time service in an area with limited health care availability, you could receive up to $50,000 toward your student loan debt. Part-time service opportunities are also available, with grants up to $25,000.
2. Nurse Corps Repayment Program
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) offers student loan grants for the following nursing professionals:
- Licensed registered nurses (RN)
- Advanced practice registered nurses (APRN)
- Nurse faculty members (NF)
Applicants must commit to two years of service in a health care facility with a critical shortage or as faculty at an accredited nursing school to receive 60% of their outstanding student loan balance. You can earn an additional 25% by completing a third year of service.
3. Indian Health Service loan repayment program
The Indian Health Service (IHS) is a culturally enriching program that contributes up to $50,000 to your eligible student loans in exchange for two years of service. Opportunities are designed to address the needs of the underserved American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
You can participate for longer, renewing your contract until your student loan is paid in full. Many students find this program stimulating and rewarding.
4. Students to Service loan repayment program
The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) offers up to $120,000 in student loan repayment assistance to medical, dental and nursing students in their final year of school.
You’ll need to provide health care services for three years (six years if working part-time) at a NHSC-approved site. This program aims to help serve communities with limited access to medical facilities and services.
Grants for veterinarians
5. The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP)
If you’re a veterinarian looking for grants to pay off student loans, look no further than the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Its loan repayment assistance program provides up to $25,000 annually — $75,000 total — in exchange for three years of paid work in an underserved area.
To be eligible, you must have an accredited degree in veterinary medicine and carry at least $15,000 in loan debt.
Grants for teachers
6. Teacher loan forgiveness
Teachers have several options for teacher loan forgiveness programs:
- Teacher Loan Forgiveness (TLF): Devote five years to teaching in a low-income area and you could earn up to $17,500 to be applied toward your Direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans.
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF): Although the PSLF program isn’t designed exclusively for teachers, many teachers can find relief with this program. (We’ll discuss PSLF in more detail below.)
- Teacher Cancellation of Perkins Loans: The Perkins loan program ended in 2017, but the forgiveness program still exists. You can apply to have a percentage of your Perkins loan forgiven after every year of teaching in a low-income community, with the possibility of wiping out 100% of this loan.
- State-sponsored student loan forgiveness programs: Many states have teacher loan forgiveness programs, especially for high-need areas. The American Federation of Teachers created a loan forgiveness and funding opportunities database to help you find programs in your area.
You can find more information about teacher loan forgiveness programs, including how to apply, at studentaid.gov.
Grants for lawyers
7. John R. Justice Student (JRJ) Grant Program
If you are a state public defender or prosecutor, you may be eligible for the John R. Justice (JRJ) Student Grant Program. Under this initiative, you can receive up to $10,000 per year with a maximum benefit of $60,000. The funds can be applied to the remaining balance of most federal student loans, apart from Pparent PLUS loans.
To apply for this student debt relief grant, you must agree to work as a public defender or state prosecutor for at least three years. Visit your state agency’s website to learn about your area’s programs and requirements.
8. Department of Justice Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program
If you work as an attorney for the Department of Justice, you can apply for about $6,000 per year, with a lifetime maximum of $60,000 in student loan assistance. You need at least $10,000 in federal student loan debt and must commit to three years of service to qualify.
Since this grant is highly competitive, it’s worth applying for additional grants in case you aren’t selected.
9. Herbert S. Garten Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP)
The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) offers a select number of forgivable loans of up to $10,000 to help attorneys repay their law school debt. To qualify, you must have at least $75,000 in student debt and work full-time with an LSC-approved grantee.
10. National Institutes of Health loan repayment programs
If you are a medical professional excited to dive into the research realm, you may be able to receive grants to pay off student loans from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The NIH loan repayment programs (LRPs) run as high as $50,000 per year to help repay doctoral-level degrees. You can apply to renew an LRP contract in one- and two-year increments until you repay your total student loan debt. You don’t have to be employed with NIH to apply.
Some key research areas may include:
- Health disparities for minorities
- Contraception and infertility
- Research for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds
In addition, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) offers even more research grants in the field of mental health.
You may be eligible for military student loan relief if you’ve served in the Army or Navy after attending college. And if you’ve served and are looking to start or return to college, there’s a range of military scholarships to pay off student loans.
11. Military college loan repayment program
The Army offers student loan assistance to those on active duty. Requirements include enlisting for at least three years and scoring 50 or higher on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). You could earn up to $65,000 toward your federal student loans. However, private loans aren’t eligible.
If enlisted under a different branch, here’s what you might be able to receive:
- Navy: Up to $65,000
- Air Force: Up to $65,000
- National Guard: Up to $50,000
- Coast Guard: Up to $30,000
- Army Reserve: Up to $50,000
- Navy Reserve: Up to $10,000
Remember that military college loan repayment grants typically come with service requirements. Contact your recruiter or chain of command to see if you qualify for these programs.
12. Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant
If you had a parent who served in the military and died as a result of their service in either Iraq or Afghanistan after Sept. 11, 2001, and you didn’t meet the Pell Grant eligibility requirements, you could qualify for this grant instead. The amount goes up to the maximum Pell Grant award for that year, which is $7,395 for the 2023-24 school year.
To apply for the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant, you must have been under 24 or enrolled at least part-time in college at the time of your parent’s death.
13. Health professionals in the military
The Health Professions Loan Repayment Program helps medical professionals tackle student loan debt while on active duty or in the Army Reserve. If eligible, you can receive up to $40,000 per year for a specified term, typically three years. That’s a potential total of $120,000 in student loan forgiveness.
14. Pennsylvania Primary Care Loan Repayment Program
Physicians, dentists, psychologists and other health care professionals willing to work in underserved areas in Pennsylvania can receive between $24,000 and $80,000 to be applied to their eligible student loans.
You must make a two-year service commitment to receive Pennsylvania’s health care grant. Opinions for both part-time and full-time work are available.
15. New York State Young Farmers Loan Forgiveness (YFLF) Incentive Program
The YFLF program provides $10,000 a year in exchange for operating a farm in New York state for five years. Requirements include having received your degree from a New York college or university and residing in the state for 12 months before applying. Funds can be applied to both federal and private student loan debt.
16. The ND Career Builders loan repayment program
You can apply for the ND Career Builders loan repayment program if you reside in North Dakota and work in a high-need occupation. You’ll need to secure a commitment from a private-sector donor, who will be responsible for matching state dollars.
The grant awards up to $5,667 per year for up to three years, with a lifetime limit of $17,000. The award can go toward both federal and private student loans.
17. California loan repayment for health care workers
California’s Department of Health Care Access and Information (HCAI) offers a range of loan repayment programs for those working in the health care field, including therapists, dentists, chiropractors and more.
For example, the Allied Healthcare Loan Repayment program offers up to $16,000 for a one-year service commitment providing direct patient care in one of HCAI’s underserved areas. You can apply for this award annually if you meet the criteria and funds are available. This grant can be used toward most unpaid educational loans.
18. Maine Alfond Leaders Student Debt Reduction Program
The Alfond Leaders Student Debt Reduction Program offers up to $60,000 in student loan relief for eligible candidates employed by a STEM-based company in Maine. The funds can be applied toward outstanding federal and private student loan balances (parent PLUS loans are ineligible).
19. Other state grants
Don’t be concerned if you don’t see your own state on this list or can’t find a state grant that matches your situation — this sampling of state grants for student loan repayment is just the tip of the iceberg.
Visit the website for your state’s education agency (you can use this finder to locate them) to see what’s on offer. You might find a grant that’s just right for your own situation.
Volunteer and nonprofit grants
20. Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
One of the benefits of working for a nonprofit organization is that you may qualify for PSLF. With PSLF, you can potentially have 100% of your direct loans erased after 10 years of full-time work in the public sector. You’ll also need to make 120 qualifying monthly payments. (Try using our PSLF calculator to estimate how much you could receive.)
Notably, unlike other forgiveness options, the discharged balance doesn’t count as taxable income, which can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. That said, understanding and meeting the requirements for PSLF can be quite challenging.
21. Other volunteer grants
Here are some nonprofits that may help with your eligibility for PSLF:
Check out our guide on how to apply for student loan forgiveness for more information.
Employer sponsored grants
Some companies have employee benefit programs to help you repay your student loans. This could be a great way to launch your career while simultaneously tackling your student loans.
22. Aetna’s student loan repayment program
The insurance company Aetna matches student loan payments for its employees. If you work full-time, you can receive up to $2,000 per year, with a lifetime cap of $10,000. Part-time employees can apply to receive half of this amount.
23. Google’s student loan repayment benefit
Initiated in 2021, Google matches up to $2,500 in student loan payments per year per Googler. The program is anticipated to expand globally over time.
24. SoFi’s employer repayment program
SoFi, a leading student loan company, offers employees a student loan repayment program, regardless of their student loan servicer. Eligible employees can receive up to $5,250 per year toward their student loan debt.
25. PwC’s student loan paydown benefit
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) offers its participating associates and senior associates a student loan payment benefit of up to $1,200 per year. This benefit can reduce your student loan debt by as much as $10,000 (lifetime cap) while shortening your loan timeline by up to three years.
26. Other employer grants
There are many more companies that help pay off student loan debt. And while you might not necessarily pick your next job based on potential student loan repayment perks, it’s at least worth asking your manager or human resources department if any such programs are available.
How to apply for student loan grants
There are plenty of grants to help pay off student loans, although applying for them can take some time. In the end, it’s worth the effort to receive a free contribution toward your student loan debt.
The application process will vary based on the grant, but here are some typical steps you can expect to take:
- Research grants that fit your specific background and needs. There’s no sense in considering a health care grant if you have a teaching degree. Furthermore, make sure you can commit to the required time frame. For example, if a grant stipulates that you work in a low-income area for three years, but you have upcoming plans to travel abroad, this might not be the opportunity for you.
- Pay attention to deadlines since some grants have specific application windows. Because of this, it’s a good idea to start researching grant opportunities well before graduation. Consider setting reminders to alert you to upcoming deadlines so you don’t miss them.
- Apply for multiple grants to increase your odds. Some grants are competitive, some are lottery-based and some are awarded to everyone who applies. Since most grants don’t charge a fee to apply, it’s worth applying for as many as you can.
If you’re still in school or plan on returning, be sure to use a scholarship search tool to find money for college. The more scholarships and grants you can receive, the less you will owe in student loans.