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Ask someone what the best way is to reduce student loan debt and they’ll likely say, “Just pay it off.” That non-answer makes a good point, as most adults who have education debt have not a clue how to reduce it, other than paying it in full as quickly as possible. The very good news is that there are several methods, all legal, for eliminating some or all of your student loan balances.

Reduce Education Debt

If you are willing to work at particular jobs in certain sectors for a few years, you can erase a significant portion of your balance. Likewise, becoming a teacher, refinancing the loans, and other options are open to anyone who currently has a student loan to repay. Here are the top strategies for getting rid of the life stress associated with high education loan balances.

Get a Public Service Job

In cities all over the country, you can apply for public service jobs that come with a very nice perk: forgiveness of school loans.

In cities all over the country, you can apply for public service jobs that come with a very nice perk: forgiveness of school loans. You might need to stay in the public sector occupation you choose for between five and ten years, but have the potential to reduce your college debt by as much a $50,000.

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Most states have programs for teachers that provide for the payoff of a portion of education debts. Amounts vary, but you stand to save about $20,000 if you agree to teach for two or three years in districts that are short on instructors. It’s typically up to you to decide the subject you want to teach. Most of the forgiveness programs are tied to needy districts where administrators have had a hard time retaining staff. Plus, you can opt to teach elementary, middle school or high school students in the district you choose. The big advantage of these programs is that you still get all the other job benefits and pay that come with teaching.

Refinance for Better Terms

Refinancing for those saddled with debt from education loans can free up your monthly budget with lower payments, a longer payback window and a more favorable interest rate. Individuals who don’t want to change jobs and who don’t see bankruptcy or disability as an option tend to refinance and get the best of both worlds. You’ll preserve your credit rating, too. because you’ll still be current on your obligation. There’s no default or late penalties. You’ve simply entered into a new, more favorable contract.

Bankruptcy and Disability

If you’re getting ready to go through a bankruptcy or have recently filed for Social Security Disability, there’s a good chance you can get the entire amount of the obligation forgiven. Bankruptcy is more of a challenge because courts have wide discretion and even a Chapter 7 discharge won’t necessarily give you relief. But if a doctor certifies that you cannot engage in gainful employment, then you can usually get all the obligation dismissed. You’ll have to be able to show that the disability will last more than 5 years, and it helps if you already have qualified for Social Security Disability payments.