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Your Guide to Student Loan Forgiveness in Hawaii

In the class of 2020, 45% of Hawaii students graduated with student loan debt. According to The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS), the average balance per student was $24,926.

Hawaii residents also face a high cost of living. According to Payscale, the cost of living in Honolulu, Hawaii, is a staggering 93% higher than the national average.

If you’re a student loan borrower living in Hawaii, you may have extra demands on your income that can make student loan repayment difficult. In this guide, we share options for student loan forgiveness in Hawaii.

Options for student loan forgiveness in Hawaii

According to Census data, the state of Hawaii is relatively small, with a population of 1.4 million residents as of July 2021. Perhaps due to its small population, the state offers just two programs for student loan forgiveness in Hawaii.

The Hawaii State Loan Repayment Program

The Hawaii State Loan Repayment Program (HSLRP) is the premier option for student loan forgiveness in Hawaii. It’s geared toward healthcare professionals and requires qualified candidates to work for a minimum of two years in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA).

Qualified professions:

  • MD
  • DO
  • DDS
  • DMD
  • NP
  • CNM
  • PA
  • RDH
  • HSP
  • LCSW
  • PNS
  • LPC
  • MFT
  • RN
  • Pharm
  • Alcohol and substance abuse counselors with a license and master’s degree

Eligibility requirements:

  • Meet educational requirements and be licensed
  • Worked in an approved field like family medicine, psychiatry, internal medicine, pediatrics, gynecology, or geriatrics
  • Work at an eligible site

Service commitment: Two years

Award amount: Can vary, but the sites provide a match of funds

How to apply: You can find more info here and submit an application using this form.

Hawaii Innovative Loan Repayment Program

If you have your own practice and don’t meet the qualifications for the HSLRP, you may be eligible for funds via the Hawaii Innovative Loan Repayment Program. This loan is unique as community organizations and individuals can work together to provide matching funds for qualified providers.

Qualified professions:

  • Solo and small practice healthcare providers

Eligibility requirements:

  • Be an eligible healthcare worker
  • Provide service in a high-need area

Service commitment: Two years

Award amount: Varies based on funds available

How to apply: Reach out via email at withy@hawaii.edu or call Rhonda Roldan 808-692-1068

These two loan forgiveness options for student loan forgiveness in Hawaii are exclusively designed for residents in the state. Unfortunately, that’s all there is for state-specific programs. However, other debt forgiveness programs are available, including federal student loan forgiveness.

Federal student loan forgiveness programs

If you don’t work in healthcare, you may feel out of luck with the options for student loan forgiveness in Hawaii. To expand your options, look at the federal options for forgiveness, no matter your profession.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

Hawaii residents who work in a government or nonprofit role may qualify for loan forgiveness through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. PSLF requires student loan borrowers to have qualifying federal loans, work for an eligible employer and make 120 monthly payments.

It’s important to make sure your employer qualifies and that you keep track of your payments. You may also benefit from Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF), which expands eligibility.

Income-Driven Repayment (IDR)

Don’t want to commit to a certain sector or career for a decade? You can still get forgiveness without tying yourself to a specific employer if you have federal student loans. The downside is that forgiveness takes longer to get.

To make it happen, opt for an Income-Driven Repayment plan. These include:

  • Income-Based Repayment (IBR)
  • Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)
  • Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)
  • Pay As You Earn (PAYE)

These repayment plans help lower the burden of monthly payments by reducing the amount to a small percentage of your income. For example, student loan payments can be as low as 10% to 20% of your income.

If you continue to make payments for the repayment term of 20 to 25 years -— which varies by plan — and still have a remaining balance left over, then the rest will be forgiven.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness

Eligible teachers who work at a low-income school and serve a minimum of five consecutive years may qualify for Teacher Loan Forgiveness.

If you work in an in-demand field such as special education or math, you can get the maximum forgiveness amount of $17,500. Otherwise, you may receive up to $5,000 in loan forgiveness.

National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Program

Healthcare providers who don’t qualify for student loan forgiveness in Hawaii specific to residents can look into the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program.

You could score up to $50,000 in repayment assistance for two years of service. Check out the program info here.

President Joe Biden’s debt relief

President Joe Biden announced debt relief for some federal loan borrowers. You may be eligible if your income is below $125,000 as an individual or $250,000 as a married couple filing jointly. Federal loan borrowers who are also Pell Grant recipients can get up to $20,000 forgiven, while other borrowers can get up to $10,000 in forgiveness.

Though there is currently a court order putting things on hold, we recommended you still apply.

If everything moves forward as planned, local news reports that 110,000 Hawaii residents could benefit. The state has also said they won’t tax residents on the debt relief.

The bottom line

If you live and work in Hawaii, you may face high student loan payments and a high cost of living. To make it more manageable, see if you qualify for the above options for student loan forgiveness in Hawaii. If you don’t meet the criteria, expand your options and look at federal programs that may offer loan forgiveness.

If you need help figuring out a plan for your student loans, you can reach out to Student Loan Planner about a customized plan.

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