The student loan crisis in America is absolutely massive and doesn’t look like it’s going to get better anytime soon. If you’re one of the people that is being crushed under the weight of your student loans, today’s blog will hopefully give you  some advice that can take a little bit of the weight off of your shoulders. Enjoy.

First a little bit of interesting facts and figures. In 2012 over 60% of college graduates borrowed money to finance their degrees. The average amount that they borrowed was just under $27,000 and that was simply for a bachelor’s degree. Those that borrowed for a master’s or other professional degree usually borrowed significantly more.

Now here’s some good news.

If you have just become a doctor, teacher, nurse or librarian there are several state and federal initiatives that can help you pay off a portion of your loan. Usually you will need to work in what they call a “high need” area for 2 to 5 years in order to qualify, including rural communities and schools and in underserved medical clinics.

American Student Assistance is a nonprofit organization that helps students with their student loan debt and they have an e-book called “60+ Ways To Get Rid of Your Student Loans (Without Paying Them). You can get this e-book on their website and it contains lots of great information and advice that can help you.

For people in the healthcare industry there are quite a few programs to help pay off your student loans. The NURSE Corps and the National Health Service Corps are two excellent examples. The Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program is also in place to help dentists, doctors and psychiatrists with up to $40,000 in loan forgiveness. Those who wish to qualify for this help must commit to working at least 2 years at a healthcare facility that serves American Indians as well as Native Alaskan communities. If you work in Alaska, Georgia, California or Kansas you will also find programs that are similar to this and have similar requirements.

Even veterinarians can get help from similar programs in some States. For example, the Kentucky Large/Food Animal Veterinary Incentive Program will help veterinarians pay off approximately $3000 for every six months’ worth of work that they put in. This program will pay upwards of $18,000 towards outstanding student loans when a newly graduated vegetarian agrees to work with either large animals like horses or with livestock animals like cows, sheep and pigs. The program even covers veterinary technicians. Minnesota has a similar program as well.

If you’re a recent veterinary graduate and you go to work in Montana, Nebraska and New York State, the US Department of Agriculture’s Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program will help you with up to $25,000 of your student loan debts per year. As with the other loan repayment programs you’ll need to work in underserved areas in order to qualify.

If politics and law are more your style and you’re a Maryland resident, you  can get help through the Janet L. Hoffman Loan Assistance Program by working either for the state, a local municipality or also a Maryland nonprofit agency. As with most programs you’ll need to work in underserved and low income areas in order to qualify.

The same thing goes for students who borrowed using a Perkins loan. For example librarians, special education teachers, firefighters and speech pathologists, among others, who work in underserved areas will qualify to have a good bit of their student loan debt canceled. The amount of loan forgiveness varies and, in some cases, you’ll need to work in a low income or underserved area for up to 5 years, but it’s a great way to get the experience that you want while also getting the financial help you need.

The simple fact is that loan forgiveness is not guaranteed by any means. If you’re still in school and you’re assuming that your student loan debts will eventually be erased someday, you’d be well advised to change your way of thinking. It just doesn’t make sense to over-borrow and put yourself under the heavy strain of college debt for the next 10 to 20 years, so make sure that you borrow only what you really need and consider that any forgiveness benefits that you might get in the future are simply a “bonus”.