Your Questions Answered
Whether you are just beginning to discern post-graduate service, are pretty sure you’re going to participate in a service and leadership development program, or have already started the application process with Amate House, this information will help answer questions that are likely to come up in your decision-making process. Should you have questions that are not addressed here, please don’t hesitate to contact our program staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We often hear from prospective fellows that one of the obstacles to doing a year of service with Amate House is the need to find a job to repay student loans. Don’t let student loans stop you from participating in Amate House’s post-grad service and leadership development program. There are several options to repay your student loans during your service year.
Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans
You will have a six-month grace period after the time of graduation to begin repaying your student loans. This means you won’t begin making payments until about November.
If you have federal loans, you have a few repayment options:
1. Income-Driven Repayment Plan
You can pay what you’re able to afford with income-driven repayment plans during your service year. Because you will have little income during your service year, you will pay very little, if anything on the loans.
An advantage of an income-driven plan is that your federal direct loan balance is forgiven after 20-25 years, depending on the payment plan. See below for information about loan forgiveness programs. Amate House can provide a letter to include in your application verifying your income during your service year. Most fellows on an income-driven plan have a $0 payment during their service year. You should begin the application process a few months before your grace period ends.
2. Loan Deferment
Under deferment, your loan payments are postponed due to economic hardship and no interest accrues on subsidized loans.
You must apply to your loan servicer to receive a deferment. If you don’t know how to contact your servicer, check the National Student Loan Data System at www.nlds.ed.gov.
3. Loan Forbearance
Under forbearance, the loan payments are postponed but interest continues to accrue during the period of forbearance. You should pay the interest during forbearance or it may be added to your principal balance which means you will end up paying more in student loans.
Your loan servicer determines if you are eligible for forbearance. Amate House will provide a letter for you to verify your income for your deferment or forbearance application.
4. Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLFP)
If you are considering non-profit or government work, your loan balance may be forgiven after 120 monthly payments (10 years) if you have Federal Direct Loans. Payments made during your service year count toward the 120 months!
To qualify, you must do the following:
- Verify you have Direct Federal Loans
- Be on an Income-Driven Repayment Plan
- Complete the Employment Certification Plan
5. Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program
If you teach full-time for five complete and consecutive academic years in a low-income school or educational service agency, and meet other qualifications, you may be eligible for forgiveness of up to $17,500 on your Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans.
For more information about loan forgiveness programs check out The Complete List of Student Loan Forgiveness Program and Options.
6. Private Loans
If you have private loans, contact your lender directly to discuss your options; there may be private student loan help out there. Don’t wait until your loans come due – act quickly!
You’ve made the decision to do a year of post-grad service but your parents have reservations. You’re really excited about your decision but you want to move forward with the support of your family. What do you do?
In our conversations with prospective fellows throughout the years, we’ve learned how to talk to parents about post-grad volunteer service so that they understand why this opportunity is important to you. We offer those insights and suggestions here:
Take the time to seriously listen to your parents’ concerns. If you understand what is at the heart of their apprehension, you can respond more effectively and hopefully put their worries at ease.
Provide your parents the details. More often than not, parents are concerned about specific issues:
Become educated on what loans you have and what options you have for each. Come up with a game plan and share it with your parents. For help, see the section above, Student Loan Repayment.
Amate House ensures that our residences are safe, secure and well-lit. We coordinate the safe travel of our fellows to and from their work sites. We work closely with our sites to ensure a safe and healthy work environment for all of our fellows. Our staff is local and can respond to incidents very quickly, if they occur. As a member of an intentional community, living closely with other peers also provides an added degree of safety and accountability. We cover safety and security on day one of orientation, and reiterate it throughout the year.
It is a challenge to live on a small monthly allowance, but it’s also an opportunity to practice solidarity with those we serve. Amate House provides housing, a food budget, transportation, and health insurance, which ensures that our fellows’ basic material needs are covered and that you won’t incur additional debt. You won’t save money during your service year, but you will have gained an invaluable experience of using your resources responsibly and also will have learned that our greatest treasures often are not associated with dollars.