According to statistics from the Colorado Department of Higher Education, 55% of bachelor’s degree holders in 2019 graduated with debt in Colorado, carrying an average of $25,700.
Although there are a number of Colorado student loan refinancing strategies to help borrowers reduce their interest and potentially get out of debt faster, student loan forgiveness might be a better option for some borrowers.
There are several ways to obtain student loan forgiveness in Colorado — let’s dig in.
7 Options for student loan forgiveness in Colorado
If you want a Colorado student loan repayment program that involves an element of student loan forgiveness, here are some of your federal and state options.
1. Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
PSLF is a federal program under which your Direct Loans are forgiven after making 120 on-time payments while working for a qualifying employer. Keep in mind you must be working full-time at a qualifying employer, typically a government organization at any level or a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.
If you want to pursue PSLF in Colorado, the first step’s to ensure that your employer qualifies. You’ll also need to change your repayment plan to an Income-Driven Repayment plan if you haven’t done so already.
2. Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program
The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program is a federal initiative that helps teachers with the burden of student debt. In exchange for teaching full-time at a low-income school for five academic years in a row, you can be eligible for federal loan forgiveness. The maximum forgiveness amount is up to $17,500 and awards depend on the subject you teach.
There are a few other eligibility requirements you should be aware of if you’re considering this route. You must be what the federal government considers a “highly qualified teacher,” meaning you have a bachelor’s degree and are fully certified to teach in your state (in this case, Colorado).
To check whether your Colorado school or educational agency qualifies, you can search for it in the Teacher Cancellation Low Income Directory.
3. Colorado Health Service Corps
If you’re a medical professional working in a Health Professional Shortage Area in Colorado, you might qualify for $10,000 to $90,000 of student loan repayment assistance, depending on the length of your commitment and your area of practice.
Physicians and dentists working full-time at approved sites are eligible for the $90,000 award, but other health professionals such as pharmacists, nurses and mental health practitioners are eligible for different amounts. You can also be eligible even if you work part-time.
You must make a three-year service commitment to your site, and apply within the annual 30-day window. In 2021 applications will be received from September 1 to September 30.
Learn more about the Colorado Health Services Corps program.
4. University of Denver Sturm College of Law Loan Repayment Assistance Program
University of Denver (DU) law alumni working in public interest positions can be eligible for loan repayment assistance from the school. To qualify, you must have a J.D. law degree from Sturm College and have graduated after 2003. You must also be working in a J.D.-advantaged job in public service, and make under $75,000, annually.
DU Loan Repayment Assistance Program applications are accepted annually, but you’ll need to collect some documentation before you’re ready to apply. Make sure you have federal and private loan documentation, including your repayment amounts and proof of monthly payments. You’ll also need employment verification, two letters of recommendation and a written personal statement.
Awards are renewable for up to five years and typically cover 15% to 75% of monthly loan payments for award winners.
5. Colorado Law’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP)
The University of Colorado Boulder LRAP is available to alumni who work in public interest jobs. To be eligible, you must be employed at least 35 hours a week at one of three employment categories:
- working for a 501(c)(3) organization,
- working for a government agency, or
- working to provide legal help to underserved communities with unmet legal needs.
You must also be earning less than $65,000 annually. Awards can be for as much as $5,500 per person, annually, and renewable for up to five years even though recipients must submit a new application each year.
6. State Dental Loan Repayment Program
By treating patients in an underserved community for a minimum of two years dentists and dental hygienists can earn thousands of dollars toward Colorado student loan repayment.
The award is granted based on the number of patients seen each month. General and pediatric dentists can earn up to $50,000 for seeing 80 patients a month, while dental hygienists can earn up to $12,000 for seeing up to 80 patients.
To apply for the program, you can use the Colorado Health Service Corps application.
7. Rural Essential Access Provider (REAP) Loan Repayment Program
Medical professionals in Colorado, such as doctors, nurses, social workers, pharmacists and several others, might be eligible for $7,500 to $30,000 of loan forgiveness. You must work in a rural area that’s in need and employed at a REAP site to take part in this program.
There’s also a two-year service commitment. The option to work either full-time or part-time is also available.
If your site’s currently not designated as a REAP site, you can apply to have it included if it’s within a rural or frontier area and provides primary care services to individuals and families on Medicaid, Medicare, CHP+. You can also be eligible for the program if you provide services on a sliding scale for those facing economic difficulties.
Finding the best colorado student loan repayment program
Depending on your occupation and location within Colorado there are several different options for pursuing student loan forgiveness in the state. Understanding which option gives you the biggest financial advantage can sometimes be confusing.
If you need additional guidance about the best Colorado student loan repayment program to pursue, schedule a consultation with us. Our expert consultants will help you create a custom student loan repayment plan that can help you get out of debt faster.