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Do Good Deeds. Pay Off Your Loans.

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September 10, 2008 by Mara Strom

Let’s face it: College is expensive and the reality for the vast majority of us is that student loans are an indispensable asset in the “paying for college” column.

But paying back those loans isn’t easy (remember Clark University graduate Luke Livingston and his ingenious method for paying back his student loan debt?)

Even if you’re lucky enough to qualify for and only need federal student loan (as opposed to private student loans, which carry higher interest rates and less favorable terms), paying back those loans can put a real damper on your monthly budget once you graduate.  In fact, the weight of those loans can have a real impact on what career moves you make both short-term and long-term.

On the one hand, you’d love to get a job as a teacher, a social worker, a community organizer (I hear they make great Presidential candidates).  On the other hand, you couldn’t afford rent on a teacher’s/social worker’s/community organizer’s salary… let alone your student loan.  So, you forfeit your passion for your pocketbook and end up paying for your college education in more way than one.

I posted a while ago about an innovative Tufts University program for its current students and alumnae; the initiative pays off a part of your loans if you go to work in the public sector.  Well, in case you did not have the good fortune of going to Tufts (*cough cough* says the alum), here’s another way to make a big difference in the world — and your student loan debt: AmeriCorps. You remember AmeriCorps, right?  It was President Clinton’s big initiative, like the Peace Corps, but for right here at home.

According to their website:

AmeriCorps annually offers 75,000 opportunities for adults of all ages and backgrounds to serve through a network of partnerships with local and national nonprofit groups. Whether your service makes a community safer, gives a child a second chance, or helps protect the environment, you’ll be getting things done through AmeriCorps!

Jobs including mentoring, working in after-school programs, building affordable housing, cleaning up public parks, helping communities respond to disasters, teaching computer skills, fighting illiteracy and building organizational capacity.  Not only do you earn the satisfaction that comes from helping others and gain excellent transferable skills for your career tract, working for AmeriCorps means you get $4,725 to apply to your qualified student loans.  (Members also receive a modest living allowance.)

So, what do you think?  Is building houses or tutoring the underprivileged right up your alley?  If so, be sure to check out AmeriCorps, because their student loan repayment program is making it a whole lot more affordable to do the right thing.

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