Student loans can feel like a burden, no matter where you live. However, in Kansas, according to The Institute for College Access and Success, 60% of students graduate with student loan debt. The average student loan repayment amount for student borrowers is $26,002.
Kansas has recognized the need to help borrowers with a variety of different types of student debt. Rather than leaving borrowers to fend for themselves, the Sunflower State offers some programs to help with loan cancellation and repayment.
Here’s what you need to know about loan forgiveness programs in Kansas.
Kansas Student Loan Forgiveness
The state of Kansas has specific plans just for Kansans for student loan repayment. Here are some of the programs that can help you with your loan balance if you’re from that state — or even if you’re a new resident.
1. Kansas Bridging Plan
This is a student loan forgiveness plan designed to help physicians working in rural communities. This program is administered by the University of Kansas Medical Center, Rural Health and Education Services.
To apply, you must work in a healthcare field that’s approved, such as pediatrics, family practice or internal medicine. Those working in medicine and pediatric programs as a resident are also eligible to apply for this program. You’re required to work for 36 contiguous months (three years of service) in a designated rural community.
You can receive up to $26,000 in loan forgiveness when you meet the requirements of this student loan repayment plan.
2. Kansas State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP)
This is another student loan repayment program aimed at healthcare professionals. This program is funded by the federal government through the National Health Service Corps. You must work in a professional shortage area and meet other requirements in terms of what type of care you provide, including primary care.
You can receive up to $25,000 per year when you work in a shortage area that typically has low-income residents who need access to health care.
3. Rural Opportunity Zones Student Loan Repayment Program
Rather than being aimed at healthcare professionals or a specific type of graduate, this program is designed to encourage new residents to come to Kansas. With this program, loan borrowers who establish residency in a rural Kansas county as newcomers can receive five years without paying Kansas income tax or up to $15,000 in loan repayment. There are many counties in Kansas that qualify for this financial incentive.
You must establish full-time residency in one of the approved areas after July 1, 2011, as well as after the county has established its participation in the program. You also need to have some type of degree, including associate’s, bachelor’s or post-graduate.
Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
If you have Direct Loans, you might be eligible for other loan forgiveness programs if you live in Kansas. In addition to the National Health Service Corps program accessed through the Kansas SLRP, there are other programs you might be eligible for. Here are some programs to consider:
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). If you have qualifying federal student loan debt, you might be eligible for PSLF when you work for certain nonprofits and government agencies and make 120 qualifying loan payments during your employment. This program results in tax-free loan cancellation of your remaining balance after you complete your qualifying payments.
- Teacher Loan Forgiveness. Teachers can also receive student loan forgiveness for qualifying loans. If you teach for five years in a designated area, you can have your education loan debt forgiven, up to $17,500.
- Perkins Loan Cancellation. If you have a federal Perkins Loan, you might be able to have it canceled if you are part of certain professions, including teaching or firefighting or law enforcement. You have a percentage of your Perkins Loans canceled every year for five years.
- Other Health Corps Programs. There are other programs offered through the National Health Corps which can allow healthcare professionals to receive some student loan forgiveness, depending on their specialty and years of service, as well as whether they work full-time or part-time in a designated area. Research these programs to see if one might work for you.
- Income-driven repayment. For those with federal student loans, there are programs that can help you better manage your student loan payments if you have a lower income. You can use a consolidation loan to move forward with income-driven repayment as well. Depending on the plan, after 20 or 25 years, your remaining student loan debt can be forgiven. However, you might have to pay taxes on the amount forgiven. You need to go through your loan servicer for this option.
If you have private student loans, however, you won’t be eligible for these student loan programs, and you might not have access to loan repayment assistance. Instead, you might need to look for other ways to get relief.
Other options to reduce your student loan debt
If you don’t qualify for programs offered by the state of Kansas or the U.S. Department of Education, you do have some other repayment options. You might be able to access student loan refinancing to lower your interest rate and get out of debt sooner.
With student loan refinancing, your lender issues one big loan designed to pay off your smaller student loans. Depending on the terms, you could save on interest as well as get rid of your debt sooner.
However, before deciding to refinance federal student loans, consider the consequences. Once you refinance, your loans are private, and you lose access to federal loan forgiveness programs, including income-driven repayment. If you have private loans, it might make sense to refinance those while getting a federal consolidation loan.
Before deciding to refinance, check into all potential state and federal loan repayment assistance programs to see if you qualify. Our team of student loan experts can help you explore your repayment options and avoid student loan forgiveness scams so that you can decide what will help you become debt free faster.