Alaska Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

#1 Student loan lawyer

Updated on April 22, 2023

If you live in Alaska and are weighed down by student loan debt, financial stability may seem out of reach as you begin your career, but there’s good news: Alaska offers several student loan forgiveness programs that can help you reduce your debt and get back on track.

Imagine a future where your student loan debt no longer hinders your financial goals. By taking advantage of these programs, you can achieve financial freedom and focus on what matters most to you.

Ahead, we’ll guide you through the loan forgiveness options available to Alaskans, including state-specific initiatives and nationwide programs.

Related: State Programs for Student Loan Forgiveness

Understanding Student Loan Forgiveness

Student loan forgiveness refers to the cancellation or discharge of a borrower’s student loan, either partially or entirely.

Offered through designated programs with specific conditions, forgiveness aims to help graduates and parents who’ve taken loans for higher education. These programs alleviate student loan debt burdens and encourage borrowers to work in particular fields or industries, often in underserved areas.

For example, a teacher may receive loan forgiveness for working in a low-income school district, helping to reduce their debt while also providing essential educational services to the community. Alternatively, a borrower enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan could qualify for forgiveness after making payments for 20 or more years, offering long-term financial relief.

About 67,300 Alaskans owe money in federal student loans, with 23,000 owing $10,000 or less, according to federal data. This means these Alaska borrowers could have their federal student loan debts erased if they apply for loan forgiveness and meet the income requirements.

Related: How to Apply for Student Loan Forgiveness

Types of Student Loans Eligible for Forgiveness

A variety of student loan forgiveness programs are available, depending on the loan type and specific conditions borrowers need to fulfill.

The two primary categories of loans eligible for forgiveness include:

  1. Federal Student Loans: Offered by the U.S. Department of Education, federal loans typically have lower interest rates and more flexible repayment options compared to private loans.

  2. Alaskan borrowers, like those in other states, can qualify for programs such as Teacher Loan Forgiveness, Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plans, and Military Service Loan Forgiveness Programs.

Each program has unique eligibility criteria and forgiveness terms.

Related: Parent PLUS Loan Forgiveness Retirement

State-Specific Loan Program

Some states offer their own student loan programs with unique forgiveness options for their residents. Alaska has a state-specific loan forgiveness program designed to encourage graduates to pursue particular careers within the state, which we will discuss in the next section.

Alaska State-Specific Loan Forgiveness The SHARP II – Health Care Professions Loan Repayment and Incentive Program encourages graduates to work in specific fields within Alaska.

The SHARP program aims to address workforce shortages by incentivizing qualified individuals to pursue careers in these high-demand fields.

Eligibility criteria for SHARP II

  • No concurrent service obligations with other entities (e.g., NHSC, I.H.S., etc.)

  • Participating sites must contribute a partial employer match to the clinician’s support-for-service payment (reduction of this required match amount may be possible sometimes)

  • All participating sites must be within Alaska-designated healthcare service shortage areas (HCSSAs)

  • Sites must accept patients who receive Medicaid or Medicare and the uninsured on a sliding fee basis

Forgiveness amounts vary by profession and salary, with both full-time and part-time contract options available. After an initial three years of service, clinicians in good standing may gain the opportunity for another three-year contract (renewal).

How to Apply and Contact Information

If you’re interested in the SHARP II program, direct questions to:

Robert Sewell, Ph.D. Program Manager
SHARP Program
Alaska DHSS
Phone: (907) 465-4065

More information about the program can be found on the Alaska Health Planning website. Visit the website to learn about the application process, deadlines, and required documentation.

Keep in mind that funds for the SHARP II program are limited, and recipients are selected based on funding and the number of applicants each year.

It’s essential to stay informed about the program’s details and apply as soon as possible to increase your chances of receiving loan forgiveness.

Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Programs for Alaska Residents

1. President Joe Biden’s Nationwide Forgiveness Program

Eligibility criteria:

  • Income limits: Individuals with an annual income during the pandemic under $125,000 or married couples/heads of households with an income under $250,000 may be eligible for (1) Up to $20,000 in federal student loan cancellation for Pell Grant recipients; or (2) Up to $10,000 in federal student loan cancellation if they did not receive a Pell Grant.

  • Qualifying time period: Forgiveness applies only to loans taken before July 2022.

  • Loan types: Only federally held student loans are eligible. This excludes some Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) and most Perkins loans.

Forgiveness amounts and application process:

  • If Biden’s plan survives legal challenges, eligible borrowers can submit an application via the Federal Student Aid website.

  • Forgiveness is automatic for many borrowers, requiring only basic personal information.

  • Borrowers can request a refund for any payments made on federally held student loans during the payment pause (starting March 13, 2020), ensuring they receive the full $10,000 or $20,000 refund without penalty.

2. Income-Driven Repayment Account Adjustment

Eligibility criteria:

  • Starting in spring 2023, borrowers who have been paying their federal student loans for 20 years or longer will see their remaining debt discharged.

  • Millions more will move significantly closer to forgiveness when their accounts are updated in 2024.

Forgiveness amounts and duration:

  • The IDR account adjustment allows every month spent in student loan repayment or on pause — regardless of whether any student loan payments were made — since leaving school to count toward forgiveness, applied one time only.

  • About 40,000 borrowers with older loans will see their balances wiped clean starting in spring 2023, and over 3.6 million borrowers are expected to receive at least three years of more credit toward IDR forgiveness.

3. Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF)

Eligibility criteria:

  • Work full-time for a qualifying public service organization, such as the federal government, a non-profit organization, or a state university like the University of Alaska Anchorage.

  • Make 120 qualifying payments under a qualifying repayment plan. Payments do not have to be consecutive but must be made on time.

Forgiveness amounts and duration:

  • After making 120 qualifying monthly payments, borrowers can apply for PSLF to have the remaining balance of their Direct Loans, including Parent PLUS Loans, forgiven.

  • The forgiven amount is not considered taxable income.

4. Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program

Eligibility criteria:

  • Teachers must work full-time for five consecutive academic years in a low-income school or educational service agency.

  • Must have taken out their federal Direct or Stafford Loans after October 1, 1998.

Forgiveness amounts and duration:

  • Highly qualified math and science teachers in secondary schools and special education teachers can receive up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness.

  • Other eligible teachers may receive up to $5,000.

  • Forgiveness is granted after completing the required five consecutive years of teaching service.

5. Military Service Loan Forgiveness Programs

Eligibility criteria:

  • Various programs are available for eligible military service members, including the Army Loan Repayment Program (ALRP), the Navy Loan Repayment Program (NLRP), and the National Guard Loan Repayment Program (NGLRP).

  • Each program has its own eligibility criteria, such as the length of service, loan type, and qualifying military occupation.

Forgiveness amounts and duration:

  • The forgiveness amounts and duration varies by program and branch of service.

  • For example, the Army and Navy Loan Repayment Programs offer up to $65,000 in loan repayment assistance, while the National Guard Loan Repayment Program provides up to $50,000.

  • These benefits are usually disbursed yearly over a specified period, depending on the service member’s commitment to the military branch.

Alternatives to Student Loan Forgiveness for Alaska Residents

Loan Consolidation Overview:

  • Loan consolidation involves combining multiple federal student loans into a single Direct Consolidation Loan.

  • This simplifies loan management by having a single monthly payment and can lower monthly payments by extending the repayment term.

Benefits and considerations:

  • Access to more repayment plans and forgiveness programs.

  • Simplified loan management with a single monthly payment.

  • Potential for lower monthly payments.

  • Extending the repayment term might result in paying more interest over the life of the loan.

Loan Refinancing Overview:

  • Loan refinancing involves obtaining a new loan with a private lender to pay off existing federal or private student loans.

  • The goal is to secure a lower interest rate or adjust repayment terms, potentially reducing the overall cost of the loan.

Benefits and considerations:

  • Significant savings in interest payments over time.

  • Reduced monthly payment amount.

  • Loss of access to federal benefits, including income-driven repayment plans, loan forgiveness programs, and deferment or forbearance options.

  • Important to evaluate the benefits of refinancing against potentially losing federal protections.

Income-Based Repayment Plans Overview

  • Income-based repayment plans, such as Income-Based Repayment (IBR), Pay As You Earn (PAYE), Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE), and Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR), adjust monthly payments based on the borrower’s income and family size.

  • These plans can provide relief for borrowers experiencing financial hardship.

Benefits and considerations:

  • Significantly lower monthly payments, providing financial flexibility for borrowers.

  • Forgiveness of remaining loan balance after 20 or 25 years of payments (depending on the specific plan and when the borrower took out their loans).

  • Forgiven amounts may be considered taxable income.

  • May result in paying more interest over the life of the loan due to the extended repayment period.

Bottom Line

Navigating student loan forgiveness programs and alternatives can feel overwhelming, but having clear guidance and easy-to-follow steps can make a significant difference in managing your student loan debt.

By staying informed and up-to-date on forgiveness programs and strategies, you’ll be better equipped to tackle your student loan debt and work towards financial freedom.

To further empower yourself in managing your student loan debt, sign up for our student loan newsletter. Each week, we share helpful tips, updates, and insights tailored to help you make informed decisions and take control of your financial future.

Share On Social

Stop Stressing