What Is Loan Forgiveness?
In general, loan forgiveness programs are designed to encourage students to pursue degrees and employment in specific fields. These programs forgive part or all of your educational loan debt if you in turn fulfill certain work or volunteer-related requirements. Various programs are offered by the military, federal government, service organizations, individual employers, hospitals, and larger rehabilitation companies.
Volunteer Programs (Non OT-specific job opportunities)
Volunteers with Perkins loans are eligible for a partial cancellation of their loan in return for serving as part of the Peace Corps by living and working in developing countries. Jobs are not OT specific.
Offers opportunities to serve through a network of partnerships with local and national nonprofit groups. For a full year of service, volunteers receive an education award of $4,725 to pay for college or graduate school, or to pay back qualified student loans. Jobs are not OT specific.
Military (OT-specific job opportunities)
Offers student loan repayment assistance in return for active duty serving soldiers and their families as an occupational therapist in the Army Medical Specialist Corps. Contact a recruiter for more information.
Offers assistance through the Navy Health Professions Loan Repayment Program to health care professionals (including occupational therapists) who serve as Active Duty Medical Service Corps Officers. A minimum 3-year service obligation is required. Contact a recruiter for more information.
Offers loan repayment assistance in return for active duty service on the team of Air Force Biomedical Professionals. Contact a recruiter for more information.
The details of loan forgiveness programs offered by individual employers vary widely, such as the terms you have to meet in order to qualify, length of time you must work for the company, and amount of loans the company helps you pay back. Some programs are well publicized, whereas you may have to ask about others during the interview process. Ask perspective employers what type of loan forgiveness assistance they offer and the details of the program.
Several years ago, AOTA succeeded in getting occupational therapy recognized as a profession of national need making occupational therapists who work with children, adolescents, and veterans eligible for additional loan forgiveness. The program will authorize loan forgiveness for up to $10,000 in loans over a 5 year period. Unfortunately, Congress never funded this program so no loans are currently available. Information will be posted on the AOTA Web site should funds become available.