Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) can help you get rid of student debt. Specifically, the government will forgive the balance of your federal student loans after you make 10 years of making qualifying payments — but only if you work at certain PSLF-qualifying jobs.
To score forgiveness through PSLF, you need to work full time for an eligible employer — meaning a nonprofit organization or government agency. But while it’s tough to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (more on that later), the range of jobs that qualify for PSLF are surprisingly broad, including roles such as accountant, graphic designer and administrative assistant.
Of course, not all public service jobs are lucrative. But if a job you’re passionate about doesn’t pay a lot of money, you can at least offset that by chopping a potentially large amount off your student debt via PSLF. (Use our PSLF calculator to estimate how much you might save.)
Here are a few jobs you might not have suspected are sometimes eligible for PSLF — though of course you’ll need to check if you employer qualifies for the program:
5 unusual PSLF-qualifying jobs
Many nonprofit organizations operate hotlines, such as 2-1-1, that help people in their service area find resources and information. Some organizations even use their call centers to fundraise, with workers calling people to request donations.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median hourly wage for a customer service representative was $16.23, as of 2018.
Depending on the role, you might need specialized training. For example, if you’ll be working for a suicide or domestic violence hotline, you will be trained on how to handle specific scenarios.
If you hate the idea of toiling away in an office, you might enjoy working as a groundskeeper or landscaper for nonprofit organizations or government agencies.
Local museums, universities, organizations and government centers often need someone to keep their location looking presentable by cutting the grass, clearing weeds, replacing dying plants and trimming back hedges.
And there’s high demand for grounds maintenance workers. The BLS estimates the field will grow by 9% by 2028. As of 2018, the median pay for a maintenance worker was $14.13 per hour. As you build experience, you can become a landscape designer or landscape architect, boosting your earning potential.
Many animal lovers dream of spending their working days caring for cats, dogs and other creatures, but might worry about low wages and difficulty paying off their student loan debt.
Fortunately, your passion for animals doesn’t preclude a meaningful job that qualifies for PSLF.
Many rescues and animal shelters are nonprofit organizations. Possible work could include cleaning kennels, walking dogs, meeting with prospective adopters and screening applications. If you work there full-time and keep up with your minimum payments, your time there will count toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
On the downside, animal caretakers are some of the lowest-paid workers on this list, with a median wage of $11.51 per hour, as of 2018.
Geoscientists study the physical properties of our planet, and they rarely have a typical day, often splitting their time between office work and outdoor projects. Sometimes, they have to drop everything to head to a crisis location.
Although some geoscientists work for private enterprises, many others work for government offices, universities or research hubs.
Geoscience is the most lucrative field on this list, with a median pay of $91,130 per year (or roughly $44 an hour), as of 2018. However, you will likely need a master’s degree as you progress in your career, which can add to your education costs and student loan balance.
If you are fluent in another language, you might qualify for PSLF by working as a professional translator or interpreter.
You could use your skills to serve in different areas, including:
- Courtrooms: Both civil and criminal courts hire interpreters to translate testimony and complaints.
- Hospitals: When there is a medical problem or emergency, time is of the essence. Language barriers can be a huge issue. Many hospitals hire medical interpreters to be the go-between for healthcare workers, patients and their families.
- Direct service organizations: Social workers and case managers work directly with children and families to help them find food, shelter, medical care and more. However, some families may have limited English-speaking skills, in which case nonprofit organizations use interpreters to facilitate the conversation.
The BLS reports that interpreters and translators earned a median salary of $49,930 per year (approximately $24 an hour), as of 2018.
Planning a career in public service and getting PSLF forgiveness
When looking for public service jobs, it’s important to keep your options open. Many unconventional jobs qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, so you can pursue your passions while still eliminating your loans.
In fact, as of June 2019, 100,835 PSLF applications have been rejected, and only 1,216 approved, according to Federal Student Aid data. (Here’s the story of one borrower who did qualify.) Common reasons for rejection were:
- Lack of qualifying payments (55%)
- Missing information (24%)
- No eligible loans (15%)
- Employment dates not eligible (2%)
- Employer not eligible (2%)
Clearly, PSLF can be a game changer, but it’s important to make sure you follow all the rules. After all, you don’t your application to be rejected after a decade of counting on this student loan relief.
Laura Woods contributed to this report.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2020!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|1.89% – 6.66%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.89% – 5.90%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.25% – 6.09%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.99% – 5.64%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.98% – 8.55%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.39% – 6.01%||Undergrad |
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews! |
1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount.
The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.
To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of October 1, 2020.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.
Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.
Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.
Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.
Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of September 9, 2020. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.79% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.64% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of July 31, 2020, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 7/31/2020. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2020 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
5 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of 5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.
As of 10/15/2020 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.98% APR to 8.55% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.99% APR to 8.77% Fixed APR with AutoPay.