For many, the idea to go back to school is appealing, but the thought of financing it is overwhelming. That is especially true for those who choose to go into the service and nonprofit sectors where the paycheck can sometimes take a backseat to the passion for a cause.
To assist students who have chosen this career path there are financing options available, says Aida Asencio-Pinto, director of Student Financial Planning at
The Income-Based Repayment Plan (IBR) allows for federal loans to be repaid on a different scale, she says. The loan payments are capped at a rate intended to be more affordable, although they may result in a longer repayment plan with additional interest.
Loan calculators and examples of the payment scale are available at http://studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/IBRPlan.jsp
Those enrolled in the program have their income assessed and readjusted annually based on household income if they are married, explains Asencio-Pinto.
Another opportunity is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program established as part of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007. Students working in the service sector such as a university, police department or for a nonprofit organization full-time must show proof of where they work to be eligible. Enrolling requires all loans be through the Department of Education's direct lending program, which may require other loans be consolidated. Once loan repayment begins it requires the student to make120 payments. If on a monthly payment plan this means it would take 10 years before the remaining debt is forgiven. The borrower must be employed in public service full-time throughout the 120 months. This allows for loan forgiveness earlier than the 25-years outlined in income-based repayment.
Asencio-Pinto says the programs are considered fairly new and Concordia recently held a meeting for students seeking degrees and careers in a church setting to inform them of the loan program opportunities.
"They are paid very little," Asencio-Pinto says. "It still benefits them because it is income based. They may not make payments for a couple of years." Jennifer Beightley senior development officer for major gifts at Children's Memorial Foundation is a student in
's School of Public Service.
She says while pay is secondary to her desire to be employed where she can help make a difference, the thought of more loans in addition to her undergraduate loans is a bit daunting. She is counting on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Beightley believes education is an investment and does plan to take advantage of loan forgiveness making minimum payments for 10 years while she continues to work in the nonprofit sector.