SC Student Loan Forgiveness: 6 Paths in 2023
Updated: May 25
The Palmetto State is well regarded as one of the United States' most beautiful states, home to beautiful beaches, gorgeous golf courses, and historic towns unlike any other. South Carolina is also home to some of America's largest college towns, with the University of South Carolina in Columbia and Clemson University in Clemson.
An unfortunate side effect of these sprawling college towns is the high density of college graduates with large amounts of student loan debt. In fact, the state of South Carolina has over 700,000 student loan borrowers holding a total of nearly $27 billion in outstanding student loan debt.
However, there is a silver lining to this bad news, as the state of South Carolina has introduced a number of student loan forgiveness programs to aid graduates in their repayment.
Student loan forgiveness programs in South Carolina
As of June 2022, there are two distinct programs available to South Carolinians pursuing state debt forgiveness. You may be eligible to receive South Carolina student loan forgiveness through the following programs:
Public Interest Law Loan Forgiveness Fund
SC Teachers Loan
1. Public Interest Law Loan Forgiveness Fund (PILLFF)
South Carolina's Public Interest Law Loan Forgiveness Fund is available to to graduates of The University of South Carolina's Law School who decide to enter the field of public interest law.
Established in 2002 by a former USC law professor, the program has the following eligibility requirements:
Must be a graduate from The University of South Carolina School of Law
You must agree to work in public interest law for at least two consecutive years
Those that qualify will be doing legal work that requires their Juris Doctorate degree, and work for an employer that is either tax-exempt, a governmental agency, or a political subdivision. Those that remain in South Carolina following law school will be given preference, and your income and total debt burden will be considered to assure that the awards are fairly distributed.
To apply for funds through the SC Public Interest Law Loan Forgiveness Fund, you'll need to complete this application.
The amounts awarded under the program can vary, but decisions are made in August of each year. At this time, your completed application should be mailed to:
Pamela D. Robinson
UofSC School of Law
1525 Senate Street, Room 386
Columbia, SC 29208
2. South Carolina Teachers Loan Program
Essentially a state-run Teacher Loan Forgiveness program for South Carolina's teachers, the SC Teachers Loan Program is a program designed for teachers working in teaching shortage areas or subject shortage areas.
Under the terms of the program, most future South Carolina teachers can borrow up to $27,500 to assist in paying for college. After graduation, if you work in a shortage area or teach in a shortage subject, you'll gain eligibility for up to $5,000 per year in student loan forgiveness, as long as you continue teaching.
Federal forgiveness programs for South Carolinians
Residents in South Carolina also have access to the United States Department of Education's federal forgiveness programs, if eligible. At this time, there are four main federal programs to be aware of:
Teacher Loan Forgiveness (TLF)
Perkins Loan Cancellation
We've written extensively about all four of these programs, and you can find that information using the links above. But essentially, all four of these programs have differing (and often stringent) eligibility requirements that you have to meet in order to take advantage of them. Brief descriptions of each program follow.
1. Public Service Loan Forgiveness
The first (and often most lucrative) student loan forgiveness program is PSLF, which is open to those who work in qualifying public service jobs for either certain nonprofits or the government. Generally, PSLF works like this:
After making these payments, you'll become eligible to have your remaining student loan balance forgiven.
PSLF is only an option for you if you have federal student loan debt, and more specifically, Federal Direct Loans.
2. Income-driven repayment plan forgiveness
Remember the four qualifying repayment plans for the PSLF program? These are the four income-driven repayment plans (IBR, ICR, PAYE, and REPAYE). Under the terms of these programs, those with federal loans (private debt does not qualify) may opt to reduce their payments by elongating their repayment term.
The four programs will require you to make 20-25 years of reduced monthly payments, upon which your remaining balance will be forgiven by the U.S Department of Education. Only certain types of federal student loans qualify, but in most instances you can gain eligibility for IDR by consolidating via a Direct Consolidation Loan.
3. Teacher Loan Forgiveness in South Carolina
South Carolina teachers may also opt to pursue the federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness program, especially those who did not take out loans from the SC Teachers Loan program. Since you typically cannot pursue multiple forgiveness programs at one time, it is up to you to determine your best path forward.
The federal TLF program typically comes with either $5,000 or $17,500 in benefits, depending on the subject you teach. To qualify, you normally need to teach five complete school years, have eligible and outstanding Direct Loans, work in a designated low-income school, and meet other requirements.
4. Perkins Loan Cancellation
South Carolinians with outstanding federal Perkins Loans may be eligible to have those loans forgiven over a period of five years via the Perkins Loan Cancellation program. Under the guidelines of that program, those that meet qualifying employment criteria (usually work in public service careers such as teaching, law enforcement, and healthcare) may be eligible for loan forgiveness.
SC student loan forgiveness calculator
Those looking to decide among multiple forgiveness and alternative repayment strategies should download our free student loan calculator. This tool will help you compare your projected monthly payments, debt-free year, and outstanding balances under the following strategies:
Income-Based Repayment (IBR)
Pay as You Earn (PAYE)
Revised Pay as You (REPAYE)
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
With the ability to save thousands of dollars and cut years off your repayment, the new program or strategy that you pick matters a lot.
Other ways to lower your student loan debt in South Carolina
Of course, tens of thousands of South Carolinians will not qualify for any of the programs that we've covered here. This is usually due to one of a few different reasons:
Your income is too high to qualify
You have private student loan debt that many programs do not accept
You work in a sector or career field without meaningful programs
If one or more of these parameters applies to you, it is likely that your best option is to refinance.
Refinancing student loans in South Carolina
Refinancing your student loans isn't a decision that you have to make on the spot. But it is one that carries three potential benefits:
You may be able to achieve a lower interest rate
You may be able to reduce your payments
You may get out of debt faster
And depending on what interest rate you are able to get, it may be possible to achieve all three. We hear from South Carolinians regularly wondering how to start the process, and our answer is usually the same. Start by getting an interest rate from Splash Financial or LendKey, since both lenders are actually marketplaces that will compare prospective interest rates for you across many different lenders.
The process with each only takes about two minutes, and does not impact your credit until after a hard credit pull is conducted (after you accept the terms of your new loan).
Scholarships and grant programs in South Carolina
Since the best way to avoid lots of student loan debt is to limit what you need to take in the first place, you'll likely want to consider the various scholarship and grant options out there across SC. A few of the most popular programs are:
Student loan forgiveness in nearby states
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