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  • Writer's pictureNathan Zarcaro

9 Student Loan Forgiveness Programs in Maine

Updated: Apr 2, 2023


Maine, undoubtedly one of America's most beautiful states, is a vacation wonderland for adventurists and tourists alike. Unfortunately, its' residents have not been spared from the student loan crisis, and owe, on average, over $33,000 each.


Luckily, in recent years, the state has dedicated resources towards a few state run programs designed to make repayment easier for certain residents.


These programs, which are offered by the Finance Authority of Maine (also known as FAME), were implemented in order to retain recent college graduates and spur economic growth in the area.


A lighthouse on the coast in Maine


Student debt in Maine


The average Maine borrower has about $32,000 in student loan debt, taking into account both federal and private debt. And while this is lower that the United States average, it is in no way an inconsequential amount of money.


With over 200,000 borrowers with outstanding balances in Maine, the state's residents cumulatively hold about $6.6 billion in debt. But the average balance by borrower varies somewhat depending on where in the state you look.


Thankfully, there a number of federal and state programs out there to help alleviate this crisis.



How to get Maine student loan forgiveness


We like to teach student loan forgiveness as a four step process:


  1. Researching and selecting a program that works for you

  2. Applying to the program

  3. Fulfilling the obligations of the program

  4. Earn student loan forgiveness



Step 1: Maine student loan forgiveness programs


Below is a list of ME specific student loan repayment assistance programs.



1. Educators for Maine


Eligible educators in Maine may take part in the Educators for Maine program. This program, which is actually available to students as young as high school and college as a forgivable loan, intends to retain talented teachers in Maine.


If you're already a teacher, you may be eligible to get one to two years' worth of student loan payments forgiven.


To be eligible, you'll need to be an educator that is:


  • A state resident

  • Certified by the Maine Department of Education

  • Working as an elementary or secondary educator, specialized subject teacher, or an educator of the arts or a vocation

  • Employed by a "qualifying school"


To elaborate on the second bullet, teachers that meet any of the following descriptions are eligible.


  • Classroom teachers

  • Guidance counselors

  • Librarians

  • Special education teachers

  • Speech pathologists

  • Speech therapists

  • Some tutors


Like we said, students are also accessible for some forgivable loan benefits under the program.


Consider this program state run teacher loan forgiveness.


But under the Educators for Maine program, you actually don't need to be a teacher. In fact, this program is also open to providers of child care, as long as there work at an eligible facility and received a degree or a certificate from an eligible child care development program.





2. University of Maine School of Law Loan Repayment Assistance Program


The University of Maine offers a loan repayment assistance program (LRAP) for graduates who work "in law-related public interest careers." To be eligible for this award, which provides between $1,500 - $3,000 in forgiveness, you'll need to be an attorney working full-time in a public interest role.


Furthermore, you need to earn less than $50,000, and must attest to the following via a commitment letter and promissory note:


  1. That you'll remain in a public interest position for at least a year

  2. That you'll use the funds only to pay student loans incurred attending law school

  3. That you'll repay the grant should you not uphold all requirements of the program for one year following the grant



3. Maine Health Professions Loan Program


This program, reserved for physicians practicing medicine in underserved healthcare shortage areas, is dependent on whether you took out your loans before or after January 1, 2011.


Those that took out their loans before that date are still eligible for some sort of loan forgiveness, but it is dependent upon what type of provider you are (physician, dentist, etc.).


The process is simpler for those who have loans disbursed after January 1, 2011. In those instances, you may be eligible to receive up to $25,000 each year for four years, for a total of $100,000.


Eligibility is reserved for those that were Maine residents for at least one year before starting medical school, and is available to those who studied the following medicines at accredited schools.


  • Allopathic

  • Osteopathic

  • Veterinary

  • Dentistry


Application information can be found here.





4. Maine Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program


Many states offer LRAPs for doctors, teachers, and lawyers, but Maine is unique in offering a program specifically for veterinarians. A need-based program, the state's veterinary medicine program is specifically for those who were Maine residents for at least two years prior to starting veterinary school.


The program has two components to it. First, on that need-based basis, eligible students can receive low interest loans (as low as 0%) in the amount of $25,000 annually for a four year period.


Secondly, you may be eligible for the loan forgiveness component of the program.


To be eligible for the program, you'll need to have started veterinary school after January 1, 2011. The amount of forgiveness that you are eligible for is dependent on the type of practice you enter after graduation.



  • If you practice veterinary medicine (full-time) in an area determined to have insufficient services, and if your practice spends between ten and twenty hours a week caring for livestock, you'll be eligible for "12.5% of (the) original total loan amount for each full year of practice."


Those that only practice part-time but still spend at least ten hours a week on livestock are still eligible for that same 12.5% per year.



5. Maine Dental Education Loan Program


Maine's Dental Education Loan Program provides student loan assistance to dentists practicing medicine in underserved areas of the state. Offering up to $20,000 in loan assistance per year, the program is generous and comes with an initial two year contract. There is an option to renew for an additional two years, brining the maximum forgiveness potential of the program to a whopping $80,000.


To be eligible, you must be a licensed or licensure eligible dentist in Maine with qualifying student loan debt.


You'll also need to work at a qualifying dental care facility, which carries the following guidelines:


  1. A facility that offers primary dental care

  2. Accepts MaineCare (Maine's Medicaid program)

  3. 25% of patients must be accepted for treatment without consideration of their ability to pay for services


One thing to note about this dental program is that, to retain eligibility, you cannot simultaneously take advantage of any federal loan program funded by the National Health Service Corps.


 

We think that eligible healthcare providers should be careful before jumping into ME forgiveness programs. And it isn't at all because these programs are bad. Eligible Americans should exhibit caution because of the variety of programs available to those practice medicine.


In addition to the state programs available, you'll only want to check out the various federal forgiveness options for healthcare providers, and the NHSC plans in particular.


All are lucrative but carry slightly different service requirement commitments, which you'll want to consider as you decide which program(s) to utilize. In most instances, you cannot "double-dip" and participate in multiple programs at one time, so you'll want to make sure you get it right.



Step 2: Applying to a forgiveness program


Now, you'll want to select the program that works best for you. Don't worry if you don't qualify for any of the ones we've discussed - there are also federal programs and other strategies for you to consider.


Before you apply to any forgiveness program, you'll want to gather the documentation that you'll need for support, and there can be a lot of it.


As a starting point, make sure you have:


  1. Income history (paystubs and/or recent W-2)

  2. Rates, terms, and monthly payments for all of your loans

  3. Promissory notes for your loans

  4. Your social security number

  5. Other financial information as requested


Now, it is unlikely that you'll need all of this information for every application, but it is better to have it and not need it. Other specialty programs may also ask for references or essay responses for supplemental information.


 

Steps 3-4: Fulfill forgiveness program obligations


Once you've submitted your application, you'll want to make sure that you are crystal clear on the requirements you'll need to meet. For example, the Maine Dental Education Loan Program requires a minimum two year service commitment.


In many instances, if you do not meet a program's requirements, the state can actually claw back benefits that have been paid to you, and may actually charge you interest as well.


But after you've fulfilled all program requirements, congratulations are in order! You've earned student loan forgiveness.



Other student loan strategies for Maine residents


In addition to these five state loan repayment assistance programs, you can also participate in the federal programs offered by the Department of Education. Forgiveness programs worth exploring are:



Of course, not all Maine residents will qualify for one of these programs. And that's okay. In this case, private refinancing could be your next best option.


Refinancing your student loans doesn't have to be a snap decision. 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


We hear from Mainers regularly wondering how to start the process, and typically we suggest that you start by getting an interest rate from Splash Financial, since they aren't actually a lender, but a marketplace that will find you the lowest interest rate from their network of 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).




Get our student loan forgiveness calculator


Maine student loan forgiveness calculator


We've also built an all-encompassing student loan calculator to help you decide which of the forgiveness programs may be right for you. It will compare your options with programs such as income-driven repayment, PSLF, private refinancing, and other strategies.


Our calculator will compare these strategies and show you:


  1. Your expected monthly payments

  2. Your debt-free projected years

  3. Your projected forgiveness balance


Grab your copy now!




Maine student grants and scholarships


The single best strategy to avoid becoming a statistic in the student loan crisis is to borrow as little money as possible.


So, if you are a prospective college student in Maine, you'll want to pay attention to the state's grant and scholarship programs available to those that qualify. A few of the programs potentially worth considering include:




Student loan forgiveness in nearby states




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About Nathan Zarcaro

Nathan Zarcaro is the founder of The Student Debt Destroyer and is passionate about personal finance related causes.  A 2018 graduate of Providence College's Liberal Arts Honors Program, Nathan studied Finance, and has worked for industry leaders in both finance and healthcare.  In his free time, Nathan enjoys playing golf and traveling with his wife Brigid.

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