Much like the other forty-nine states across the country, Nebraskans struggle to cope with high levels of student loan debt. In 2023, the average state resident owed $31,919 in outstanding debt.
And with life-changing reforms seemingly on the backburner again, borrowers in Nebraska have been forced to find creative solutions once again.
Luckily, Nebraskans have these 7 options to earn student loan forgiveness.
Student loan forgiveness programs in Nebraska
Nebraskans currently have three options for residents to consider, each with different eligibility criteria and access for educators and medical professionals statewide.
1. Attracting Excellence to Teaching Program
Striving Nebraska teachers may be able to access and take forgivable loans through the Attracting Excellence to Teaching Program (AETP). Offered by the Nebraska Department of Education, the program offers up to $3,000 annually to students pursuing undergraduate or graduate education to become a teacher. Program participants can use these loans for up to five consecutive years.
Then, once you graduate, you may have between $3,000-$6,000 of these funds forgiven if you become fully certified and agree to teach within Nebraska. Whether you'll earn the $3,000 or $6,000 depends upon where you teach across the state.
While not a forgiveness program directly, the program can undoubtedly help future teachers across the state avoid taking out more debt than is absolutely necessary.
2. Nebraska Student Loan Repayment Program
Certain healthcare professionals across Nebraska may participate in the state Student Loan Repayment Program, SLRP for short.
The more lucrative of Nebraska based options, the state SLRP may award up to $60,000 per year for three years, depending on your profession. Currently, doctors and dentists are eligible for the maximum of $60,000, while other qualifying healthcare professionals may receive $30,000 annually.
To qualify, you'll need to work in a qualifying primary care, dental, mental health, or other field and:
Hold qualifying federal or private student loan debt
Agree to a three-year service requirement in a rural health setting
For providers with extreme amounts of student loan debt, you may participate in an NHSC LRAP either before or after the Nebraska SLRP. Another plus is that Nebraska will not tax your forgiven funds as income.
3. Nebraska LB 50
Mental health professionals across the state may also pursue Nebraska LB 50 so long as they spend at least 50% of their time working with members of the community supervision population.
To qualify, providers will need to be a/an:
Psychiatric NP or PA
Licensed Mental Health Professionals
LB 50 provides up to the complete repayment of student loan debt over a period of five years so long as they practice in a designated state shortage area specific to their discipline.
Federal forgiveness programs in Nebraska
Qualifying residents of Nebraska will also have access to a number of federal forgiveness programs.
1. Public Service Loan Forgiveness
Nebraskans working for qualifying non-profits, federal, state, or local governments may be eligible to have 100% of their federal loans forgiven after making 120 months (10 years) of heavily reduced payments under a qualifying income-driven repayment plan.
You should recertify your income and employer annually to assure you stay on track.
Payment months made during the payment pause also count towards the total of 120, which can be helpful. Finally, PSLF forgiveness will not be treated as taxable income in the year it is granted, or any other year.
2. Income-Driven Repayment
Those that do not work for a qualifying employer may still use one of the four income-driven repayment plans to reduce their monthly payments and earn some forgiveness.
Currently, there are four programs:
Each of these programs offers a slightly different calculation to your monthly payments, from 5-25% of your monthly discretionary income.
SAVE also uses a more lucrative measure, comparing your income to 225% of the federal poverty level, rather than the more conventional 150%. The program also offers a potentially helpful interest subsidy.
There is a slight catch to income-driven repayment though. The forgiveness you receive may be treated as taxable income in the future, so this is something to absolutely keep in mind.
3. Teacher Loan Forgiveness
Teachers working at designated low-income schools across the country may opt for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program, which awards either $5,000 or $17,500 in loan forgiveness, based on subject.
Those in STEM and special education may receive the maximum amount.
Qualifying is easy too, and doing so requires educators to:
Teach five complete and consecutive academic school years with one of those years after 1997-98
Not have had an outstanding Direct Loan or FFEL balance on October 1st, 1998
4. NHSC Loan Repayment
Healthcare providers should compare the benefits of the Nebraska Student Loan Repayment Program with those of the national NHSC Loan Repayment programs, which may provide between $25,000-$100,000 in forgiveness depending on a number of criteria.
Remember to consider all three NHSC programs, as you may be eligible for multiple.
NHSC Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Workforce LRP
NHSC Rural Community LRP
Generally, eligibility is reserved for:
United States citizens or legal nationals
Full trained and licensed providers in an eligible program discipline
Those that serve Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP populations
Other student loan strategies
Still, thousands of borrowers won't qualify for any of the seven programs covered here. But even these unlucky borrowers have more options than they realize.
Another option is to schedule a custom student loan consultation with our friends over at Student Loan Planner. They do incredible work, have consulted on over $2.6 billion in student loan debt, and have saved nearly $800 million for their thousands of clients!
Though Nebraska only offers a few student loan forgiveness programs for medical professionals and educators to take advantage of, Nebraskans may leverage a number of federal forgiveness programs to aid in their student loan repayment.
Professionals of many different types may qualify across programs on a federal and state level. What questions do you have about student loan forgiveness in Nebraska?
Put them in the comments below, and I'll answer them!
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