Pushing the Outward Bound

Outward Bound provides an opportunity for former AmeriCorps and VISTA members to use their education awards on something different (other than student loans and standard college costs).

This nonprofit org provides an array of wilderness-based courses ranging from canoeing to backpacking to mountaineering and others, and the courses are offered in locations across the country. In addition to accepting the education award, scholarships are available. The Outward Bound website also includes a state-by-state set of job listings.

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The public sector path to loan forgiveness

When something sounds too good to be true, it’s all right to become suspicious.

Here’s the good news: if you work at a nonprofit, you can make your federal student loan debt go away in ten years as long as you work in the public service sector all that time and make 120 monthly payments on your student loan.

This is awesome news for public sector types with a high student loan debt and low income. There are a number of restrictions worth studying sooner than later. For example, your loans will have to go through the federal direct loan program. If you’re loans aren’t direct loans currently and you want to participate in the program, you’ll need to consolidate. It could well be worth it to you down the road if you are able to shave 15 years off your student loan!

The finaid.org article covers the process of consolidating your loans into direct loans as well as some words of caution for holders of Perkins loans and tax implications down the road when the balance of your loan is discharged.

Also check out Equal Justice Work‘s new blog on public interest law and loan forgiveness for public service employment.

Peace Corps and Grad School

The newest episode of the Idealist.org Public Service Careers Podcast features Eileen Conoboy, the director of the Office of University Programs at Peace Corps. Eileen says that its relationships with grad schools is the best-kept secret about Peace Corps.

Did you know that your Peace Corps service can count towards your grad degree? If you participated in the Masters International program, you would apply to both a partner grad school and Peace Corps at the same time, study for a year, and then take off for Peace Corps service for 27 months or so. At the end of Peace Corps service you may have some loose ends to tie up at school, and then you’d get your degree. Your degree program would be aligned with your Peace Corps service too, so that you’d be learning theories and practices useful to your eventual Peace Corps service while in school. PCMI does take into account your financial needs as well. Partner schools must offer some kind of financial benefit, including credit for foreign language mastery, or tuition benefits.

If you’ve already done Peace Corps, Fellows USA partner schools offer you financial benefits for grad school as well, along with an array of service-oriented programs to choose from. You don’t have to be a recently minted Returned Volunteer, either. Eligibility is life-long.

To learn more, go to Peace Corps’s grad school web pages.

Also check out Idealist.org’s new Public Service Graduate Education Resource Center. It’s still in the soft launch phase, but there are good articles there to help guide your search.