College is all parties and papers until you graduate and are served a heavy dose of reality. Now it’s time to find a real apartment and get a real job. It’s time to unearth all of those platitudes your mom used to tell you back when you were still muddling through high school math problems and try to find one that will motivate you to actually make a resume.

There’s just one problem. Right when you think things are bad, an email pops into your inbox asking for payment on your federal student loans. Loans? Didn’t they get the memo? You’re not a productive member of society yet. You can’t even change the oil on your car. How are you supposed to make a loan payment?

The Loan Crisis

If you’re panicking right about now, you’re hardly alone. The generation of students graduating in the new millennium has been hit with record high loans going into a record tough job market. The Bachelors degree has now taken on the role of high school diploma – everybody just expects you to have one if you want to find gainful employment. Unfortunately, gainful employment could mean steaming a customer’s latte at the local Starbucks while your degree gathers dust in your closet.

Now you're getting up for a 6 am shift and cursing the name of your credit card company. And you still have those loans…

Student Loan Forgiveness

There is a light at the end of that Starbucks, and it’s called student loan forgiveness. Some public and private institutions have programs in place to forgive some or all of an individual’s student loans provided he or she meets certain criteria. This is a legitimate way to reduce student loan debt and stop paying so much interest. We’ve taken some time to give you a general idea of what you might expect.

Professions that Pay

Certain public service professions have student loan forgiveness plans available to them through the federal government, state governments, and some private institutions. If one of these roles describes you, you’ll find numerous opportunities to relieve some of the pressure from loans.

  • Teachers
  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Lawyers

However, any of these professions requires additional schooling, and your bachelors was expensive enough.

Forgiveness for the Rest of Us

If you don’t have an M.D., and spending your day in a classroom full of rowdy students fills you with dread, fear not. You have other options for student loan forgiveness. All you need do is consider the world of government or nonprofit work. These roles also constitute public service without necessarily requiring an additional 2-8 years of schooling.

The Federal Service Loan Forgiveness program rewards those who work in public service for 10 years with total student loan forgiveness. Of course, you’ll have made 10 or more years of payments on the loan before you have the opportunity to get it forgiven, but trust us, there will still be plenty of debt left over for the government to take off your hands. Note that this method of loan forgiveness applies to most federal loans, excepting Federal Perkins Loans and Federal Family Education Loans.

Beware of Scams

When choosing a loan forgiveness program, watch out for companies that advertise a lot or seem too pushy on the phone. Aggressive marketing and sales tactics are a red flag when it comes to loan forgiveness. Often these organizations will also charge you a monthly fee or introductory flat fee. That’s how they make money off you. In the meantime, your loan is still accruing interest.

Try not to let this or anything else stress you out too much. Take a deep breath and remember that the government wants you to have that degree.  They want to help make your dream a reality.