Best grants to pay off student loans
You may qualify for one or more grants that can help you get out from under student loan debt faster
Student loan debt has become a staple for many households in the U.S., and borrowers owe an average loan balance of $39,487. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your loans, we’ll cover some of the grants available to help pay off student loan debt and get your finances back on track.
- What are grants?
- Occupational grants
- Research grants
- Military grants
- State grants
- Volunteer and nonprofit grants
- Employer-sponsored grants
- What if you can't get a student loan grant?
What are grants?
A grant is an award — usually financial — given by a government or organization to an individual to be used for a specific purpose. Grants might be awarded based on need or merit. Unlike loans, they don't need to be repaid.
Several grant programs are specifically designed to help people pay off their student loans.
Refinancing is also an option to help you pay off your debt. By visiting Credible, you can learn more about student loan refinancing and compare rates from multiple private student loan lenders.
Occupational grants provide assistance for certain professions, such as health care or teaching. These programs typically require recipients to commit to a certain service period, such as two years, in their chosen profession. In exchange for this commitment, the recipient receives a grant to help repay their student loan debt.
Grants for healthcare professionals
If you work in health care, special grant programs may be available to help with your student loan debt.
National Health Service Corps (NHSC)
The NHSC Loan Repayment Program helps licensed primary care physicians, dental workers, and behavioral and mental health professionals repay their student loans. To qualify, you must agree to work for at least two years at an NHSC-approved site in a designated Health Professional Shortage area.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The CDC’s Educational Loan Repayment Program for Health Professionals provides up to $50,000 per year in student loan repayment assistance for physicians, veterinarians, master’s and doctoral-level scientists, and other health professionals accepted into its two- or three-year fellowship program.
Grants for veterans
Grants for veterans offer assistance to borrowers who have served in the military and are looking for help repaying their student loan debt.
Army National Guard
The National Guard’s Student Loan Repayment Program is available to prior service soldiers with one or more federal student loans who enlisted for a minimum six-year term of service and received an honorable discharge or honorable release at the end of their service.
Grants for education workers
Grants for education workers can often be found at the state and local levels. These grants are typically awarded to individuals who have committed to a certain period of employment as a teacher or other educational role.
Segal AmeriCorps Education Award
Educators who serve in AmeriCorps for at least 12 months can apply for the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award. You can use the grant money to repay federal student loans or loans from a state agency or state institute of higher education.
The award amount equals the maximum value of the Pell Grant for that fiscal year, so it changes annually. For the 2023-24 school year, the maximum Pell Grant award is $7,395.
Grants for lawyers
Lawyers often face large student loan balances due to the high cost of law school. Fortunately, grants are available specifically for lawyers to help them pay off their student loans.
U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)
Employees of the DOJ hired to serve in an attorney position can apply for its Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program. The program provides grants of up to $6,000 per calendar year, with a lifetime maximum of $60,000 per attorney.
Herbert S. Garten Loan Repayment Assistance Program
The Herbert S. Garten Loan Repayment Assistance Program provides up to $10,000 of student loan repayment assistance per year to attorneys who are employed full-time or have a job offer from a Legal Services Corporation grantee organization. Applicants are expected to remain at the job for at least three years, have at least $75,000 in eligible law school loans, and meet annual income and net worth guidelines.
If you’re looking to refinance, you can easily compare prequalified rates from multiple lenders using Credible.
Research grants provide money for research projects related to an individual’s field of study. The amount and duration of the grant depend on the nature of the project. Grants are typically awarded based on merit and can often be used to repay student loan debt.
The National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health are large, well-known funding agencies and can be a good place to look for research grants in your field. Specifically, the NIH offers a program for employed researchers and repays loan amounts of up to $50,000 a year. You can also search for grants at Grants.gov, a resource provided by the federal government that has information on thousands of grant programs.
Certain branches of the military offer grant programs that assist with student loan debt.
Army Loan Repayment Program
Service members who enlist in the U.S. Army and serve for at least three years may qualify for the Army Loan Repayment Program. This program pays 33⅓ percent of the soldier's outstanding student loan balance annually or $1,500, whichever is greater, for up to three years.
Many states have grant programs that assist with student loan debt. These grants are typically given to people working in certain professions.
New York State Young Farmers Loan Forgiveness Incentive Program
The NYS Young Farmers Loan Forgiveness Incentive Program is designed to encourage recent college graduates to undertake careers in farming in New York state. To qualify, you must earn a degree from an approved New York state college or university and agree to operate a farm in the state full-time for at least five years.
The program provides up to $10,000 per year in grant money, with a lifetime award cap of $50,000.
Volunteer and nonprofit grants
Nonprofits and volunteer organizations often offer grants to those who need help with student loan debt.
Bold.org’s Forget Your Student Loan Debt Grant is open to anyone who is no longer in school and has student loan debt. The award is only $500, but the eligibility criteria are so broad that it’s worth applying for.
Some employers offer grants to employees who have student loan debt. These grants can assist with repayment or may even be used to pay off the entire loan balance. It’s important to check with your employer to see if they offer programs to help you reduce your student loan debt.
What if you can't get a student loan grant?
If you apply for student loan grants but aren’t selected (or don’t receive enough grant money to pay off your debt fully), refinancing your student loans may be an option to help reduce your interest rate or monthly payments. Refinancing allows you to consolidate all your existing loans into one loan — often with a lower interest rate. This can lead to significant savings and make it easier to manage your payments.
Another option is to pursue loan forgiveness or cancellation programs, which can provide relief from student loan debt in certain circumstances — such as if you’ve worked in public service for a certain period or have experienced financial hardship. It’s important to research the different programs available to understand your options. With some work, you may be able to find the relief you need from your student loan debt.
To get started on refinancing your student loans, visit Credible and compare prequalified rates from multiple lenders.