How to Find Grants to Pay Off Your Student Loans

Marissa Daniel
Apr 23, 2021

Are grants a good way to pay off student loans? Well, the obvious answer is yes, who wouldn't want money to pay for their loans. We dive into how to find grants to pay off your student loans and even give you a list of some that you should consider pursuing.  

Who knows, maybe this is your ticket to being one step closer to debt free.  Student debt can feel like a growing weight, adding frustration and stress to your daily routine. That debt can delay you from pursuing your future goals.  

However, grants make all the difference when it’s time to pay off your student loans, and there are many grants out there that can help!  

What is a grant?

A grant is money that you do not have to pay back. Grants are very similar to scholarships being that they are free money, but they tend to be need-based more than merit-based. 

Keep in mind that some grant programs may include stipulations that are tied with keeping the award. So, you may potentially lose the full grant amount or be required to pay some of the money back if you don’t meet all of the requirements. But how do you find grants?  

Keep reading:  How to pay for college when student loans aren't enough  

Which grants should you pursue?

This entirely depends on what you study in college and the job you currently have. Grants may be offered based on your career - whether you’re a nurse, teacher, veterinarian, lawyer, researcher, or an employee at a company that offers student loan assistance. There are federal student loan forgiveness programs, state-based grants, and grants for members of the military (and their families).

Additionally, grants may be offered to volunteers or members of non-profit companies such as Peace Corps or AmeriCorps. Therefore, it is essential that you do your research to determine whether or not these grants are easy to access based on your current situation.

Specific grants to consider:

Nurse Corps Repayment Program

Get up to 85% of those outstanding student loans paid off as a licensed registered nurse, nurse practitioner or nursing faculty member with a nursing degree. The Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program is offered by the Health Resources and Services Administration.   

National Institute of Mental Health Loan Repayment Program 

If you are planning to pursue a career in biomedical, social, clinical or behavioral research with a non-profit organization as a licensed healthcare professional, the NIMH has grants available.   This grant runs as high as $35,000 per year, and that money can be used towards paying off any undergraduate, graduate or medical school debt.   

Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program

If you have an accredited degree in veterinary medicine and carry a minimum of $15,000 in student loan debt, then there are options for you. The NIFA (National Institute of Food and Agriculture) offers loan repayment assistance awards that go up to $25,000 per year (that’s $75,000 total!). 

In exchange, they require three years of paid work in an underserved area  

John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program 

If you agree to work as a state prosecutor or public defender for at least three years, you also have access to grants. With the John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program, you could potentially receive $10,000 a year for up to six years.  

As an attorney, you should review the terms or eligibility with the Herbert S. Garten Loan Repayment Assistance Program and the Department of Justice Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program  

Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant 

You may be eligible to receive up to $6,095 to pay off your student loans if you had a parent serve in the military and die as a result of their service. However, there are stipulations attached to this type of student aid, so review all of the requirements beforehand.   

Pennsylvania Primary Care Loan Repayment Program

If you are willing to work in underserved areas in Pennsylvania as a dentist or physician, then you may receive between $30,000 and $100,000 that you can put towards your student loan debt. However, be mindful that the Pennsylvania Primary Care Loan Repayment Program requires a two-year service commitment.  

If you don’t reside in Pennsylvania, see whether you qualify for a different loan repayment program through the National Health Service Corps  

North Dakota Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Student Loan Grant

This grant is available for anyone in North Dakota who is working in a STEM-related career. Keep in mind that plenty of states offer similar programs, so be sure to investigate options for where you live.   

More:  Check out other ways to find money for college !

top tips for finding grants to pay off student loans, free money for college