Student Loan Assistance from Unlikely Sources

Michael Lux Best Of, Blog, Student Loans 6 Comments

With the spread of information about the growing student loan debt problem in the United States, programs have sprung up in many unexpected places to help students and graduates pay off their debt.  Two of these programs that you should be on the lookout for are assistance programs through your employer and programs through your school.

These programs, most commonly referred to as Loan Repayment Assistance Programs, provide money directly to the individual borrower to help them pay their student loan bills.

Employer Based Programs

Employers often use student loan assistance as a recruitment tool to attract employees, but not all of these programs are well publicized.  Many federal agencies offer LRAP.  Other government entities and some private employers have offered similar incentives.

If you find yourself in the job market, this is a great question to ask perspective employers.  Many employers help their employees pay for school under the theory that they will benefit from that new education.  A LRAP payment simply recognizes this benefit, but after the fact.

Funding information and specific rules seem to vary greatly between programs, so this is something to inquire about with your current and future employers.  One common factor to be aware of is that the employer may ask that you sign a contract committing to stay for a certain period of time or that you will refund the payments if you depart early.

School Programs

Many schools, especially professional graduate programs, offer LRAP to their graduates.  These programs are often designed to help graduates be able to afford to work public interest jobs.  These programs also help attract students to the school.  Like most employer based programs, the availability and terms really vary from school to school.

If you are currently making payments on your student loans it is probably worth your time to get in contact with your human resources office at your job or financial aid office at your school.  Even if it only ends up being a modest amount of money, a few phone calls and some paperwork could make your life a little easier.

Readers: Have you looked into these programs?  Does your school or employer offer any help paying your student loans?

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Michael – Are you aware of any pre-tax student loan federal payment programs? Something similar to a 401K through an employer, where a percentage of your pre-tax income can be applied directly to your federal loans each month and employers can provide a discretionary match.

The Student Loan Sherpa
Reply to  Maria

Maria, such a program would be awesome. To my knowledge one does not exist. I believe this is something that Congress would have to approve in order for it to be done, but my tax law knowledge is limited.

I do think it is a really good idea though. It would encourage both employers and employees to get a little bit more aggressive about addressing student loan debt.

Student Debt Survivor
Student Debt Survivor

My employer doesn’t offer loan assistance, but does offer tuition assistance. This year they paid for one of my graduate classes I needed for my license. They’ll pay $1000 per year (max) for two years.


I was looking at a few government jobs as these were the only ones I could find that would assist with paying off student loans. There are other programs where you work to get your loans repaid but I didn’t want to teach or build houses for a year. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with doing this, I just wasn’t interested in going that route.


When I was teaching, I was given tuition for two courses per year. It wasn’t much, but I was happy that it was not added onto my already ridiculous student loans.

The Student Loan Sherpa
Reply to  Michelle

Tuition on two courses a year is pretty good. That money definitely adds up. Sounds like a great deal.