Student loan forgiveness programs in North Carolina

Health professionals, teachers and lawyers could save big in the Tar Heel State.

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North Carolina doesn’t have as many forgiveness programs as other states. But if you work in health care, there are several options to choose from — the state has a health professional shortage. There’s also a state repayment assistance program for lawyers and teachers.

North Carolina Loan Repayment Program (LRP)

  • Amount: $60,000 to $100,000, depending on the type of health provider
  • Qualifying loans: All student loans — as long as they haven’t been consolidated with other types of debt

The North Carolina Office of Rural Health (ORH) offers this program to bring healthcare providers to rural areas across the state. You must make at least a four-year commitment to work in an eligible facility to qualify for this tax-free forgiveness program.

How much you qualify for depends on the type of provider you are. Physicians and dentists can qualify for up to $100,000 in forgiveness. Nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, physician assistants, psychiatric nurse practitioners and dental hygienists can get up to $60,000.

Eligibility requirements

To qualify for this program, you need to meet the following criteria:

North Carolina State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) for Behavioral Health Therapists

  • Amount: Up to $30,000
  • Qualifying loans: All student loans — as long as they haven’t been consolidated with other types of debt

The North Carolina SLRP is designed to bring mental health professionals to underserved and rural areas of the state. It involves a two-year service commitment to work in a qualified primary care site in these areas. Unlike other forgiveness programs, you won’t have to pay any taxes on the funds you receive.

Eligibility requirements

To qualify for this program, you must meet the following criteria:

North Carolina Legal Education Assistance Foundation (LEAF)

  • Amount: Up to $4,800 per year
  • Qualifying loans: Federal and private law school loans, bar exam loans

The North Carolina LEAF program is designed to help lawyers afford to work in public service by reducing their student debt load. However, it’s meant as a last resort — it recommends you apply for other repayment assistance programs through your law school or employer first.

It’s one of the few programs that allows you to include bar exam loans, as most will only consider debt from while you were in school.

Eligibility requirements

To qualify for this program, you need to meet the following criteria:

  • Earned a JD from an American Bar Association-accredited school
  • Graduated within the past 10 years
  • Licensed member of the North Carolina State Bar in good standing
  • Full-time, law-related public servant in North Carolina
  • Annual gross income less than $55,000 as an individual or $95,000 as a married couple
  • At least $10,000 in remaining law school debt with monthly loan payments

Forgivable Education Loans for Service (FELS)

  • Amount: The balance of your North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA) student loans
  • Qualifying loans: NCSEAA student loans

Teachers with loans through the NCSEAA can qualify for either loan forgiveness or cash if they take on a qualified job. Borrowers can get one loan forgiven for one year of full-time work or two years of part-time work. Do your research first — you won’t be eligible for this program if you’re applying for other employment-based forgiveness programs.

Eligibility requirements

To qualify for FELS, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Work or have a contract to work for at least 12 months at an approved education program for at least 12 months
  • Notify NCSEAA of your interest in the program within 90 days of graduation
  • Submit verification of employment to the NCSEAA within 30 days of starting a job
  • Your employment can’t be used to qualify for another forgiveness program

What if I don’t qualify for any of North Carolina’s forgiveness programs?

North Carolina’s forgiveness programs aren’t for everyone. If you can’t qualify, you might want to consider the following options:

  • Apply for refinancing. Borrowers with a high income and strong credit might be eligible for lower rates and better terms — which could potentially save you in the short and long run.
  • Apply for federal forgiveness. Federal forgiveness programs like Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) are open to a wider range of professions than North Carolina offers.
  • Switch repayment plans. Changing plans could reduce your monthly expenses, get you out of debt faster or even qualify you for automatic forgiveness after making a certain number of income-based repayments.

I defaulted on my student loans. What’s the statute of limitations on student debt in North Carolina?

The statute of limitations on promissory debt in North Carolina — which includes student loans — is five years. Once the statute of limitations is up, your lender won’t be able to sue you for repayments in the state of North Carolina. However, this only applies to private student loans — federal loans aren’t subject to the same rules.

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Bottom line

North Carolina state student loan forgiveness programs are limited by profession. Healthcare providers have the most options, though lawyers and teachers might also qualify.

On another career path? Check out your other options with our guide to student loan forgiveness programs.

Compare student loan forgiveness programs in other states


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