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As mentioned earlier in the guide, you may be able to get some or all of your student loans forgiven through doing qualified volunteer work. This gives you an opportunity to give back to your community and determine what type of career path is right for you. Some volunteer programs offer stipends in addition to student loan forgiveness so that you can support yourself while volunteering.
AmeriCorps offers volunteers the ability to make a difference in their local communities. Through this program, volunteers have the ability to tutor disadvantaged kids, improve health services and provide a wide range of services for people living in impoverished communities. AmeriCorps has several programs students can enroll in after graduation so that they can assist people in their local communities or communities all over the United States.
AmeriCorps volunteers receive a stipend of $7,400 a year. For each 12 months of service, volunteers receive $4,725 towards their student loans.
The Peace Corps is an international volunteer program. It is similar to AmeriCorps; however, volunteers are placed in countries throughout the world where they can be of greatest assistance.
Peace Corps volunteers get up to 70 percent of their student loans forgiven. You have to serve for four years in order to receive the maximum benefit. This benefit does not extend to all student loans; you can only cancel Perkins loans. The loan forgiveness program through this organization is structured by year:
Thus, if you serve for four years, you can have 70 percent of your Perkins loan cancelled.
You will also get a monthly stipend while in the Peace Corps and a special stipend of $7,425 when you return home at the end of your term of service. This last stipend compensates you for service and allows you to easily transition back into civilian life in the United States.
VISTA is a special program offered by AmeriCorps. This volunteer program allows participants to assist impoverished people all over the United States by helping develop and implement programs to help them. VISTA participants are eligible for loan deferment while in service and forgiveness of part of their loans after service. They receive the same type of forgiveness as participants in other AmeriCorps programs.