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How To Lower Student Debt

Student debt in America has reached staggering heights.

According to data recently published by the Federal Reserve Bank, more than 44 million Americans collectively hold nearly $1.5 trillion in student debt. One way to lower that debt? Volunteer work.

“Taking part in community service is one of the best ways to get help with student loan debt,” Michelle Argento, of Student Loan Hero, writes. “Many organizations offer student loan repayment assistance in exchange for volunteer work. As a result, you can make a difference in the lives of others while still chipping away at your student debt.”

Farran Powell, a reporter at US News, recently shared specific organizations that will help indebted students pay down their student debt through volunteer work.

A Platform That Connects Individuals To Social Causes

The Shared Harvest Fund is a platform where users can create a profile and list specific social causes they are passionate about. Participating non-profits can connect with users for volunteer work. Generally, users can expect to receive a monthly stipend between $250 and $1000, according to US News.

NanaEfua B.A.M. is the founder and CEO of the Shared Harvest Fund. B.A.M. tells US News that the organization refers to its volunteers as “debtfreelancers,” who use their skills to contribute to social causes while reducing their debt burdens.

Jan Overton, who took out a six figure amount in student loans to attend the University of Southern California, says she looks for work that’s conducive to her schedule, but also helps those in need.

“Even if it’s only an extra $250 – at least those hours I work are giving to someone else to help someone,” Overton tells US News. “If I could help other people at the same time while paying off my loans, not just for a job, but actually enriching my life, it’s such a better way to do it.”

Organizations That Offer Student Loan Repayment

A number of organizations offer student loan repayment in return for service work.

The National Health Service Corps offers a loan repayment program for health care professionals. Qualifying applicants give a two-year commitment of service in return for up to $50,000 in loan repayment, according to US News.

Teach for America is an option for those interested in education. Often, volunteers serve in underserved areas to “strengthen the movement for educational equity and excellence.”

Teach for America workers get paid a salary, typically between $33,000 and $58,000. Work in Teach for America also counts towards Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

AmeriCorps is another option for service work. The organization places volunteers in service positions from helping with relief efforts to working in conservation.

According to Student Loan Hero, AmeriCorps requires 12 months of full-time service and in return, volunteers can receive the maximum amount for the Pell Grant for the year. For 2017-18, that amount was $5,920. In addition, AmeriCorps volunteers can count time in AmeriCorps toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

“Since the program’s inception, the more than 1 million AmeriCorps members who have served have earned more than $3.3 billion in education awards to fund their education – more than $1 billion of which has been used to pay back student loan debt,” Samantha Jo Warfield, a spokesperson for the Corporation for National and Community Service, tells US News.

Sources: US News, Student Loan Hero, Federal Reserve Bank

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