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Perkins Loans and AmeriCorps VISTA

If you are an AmeriCorps VISTA with federal Perkins loans, you can get up to 15 percent of your original federal Perkins loan amount forgiven after completing a full-time term of AmeriCorps VISTA service. To take advantage of this, you need to elect NOT to receive the education award; instead you can choose the end-of-service cash stipend. (Keep in mind, that based on the 2016 award amount of $5,815, you would need an original balance of more than $38,750 in Perkins loans for the forgiveness to total an amount greater than the education award.) 

You can get an additional 15 percent of your Perkins loan canceled if you serve a second year as an AmeriCorps VISTA, and up to 70 percent of your Perkins loans canceled if you serve in the Peace Corps along with two years of AmeriCorps VISTA service.

If you elect to receive the end-of-service cash stipend, you will NOT be able to put your Perkins and other student loans into the standard national service forbearance. Often AmeriCorps VISTAs in this scenario will place their loans into a hardship deferment. Finaid.org has an Economic Hardship Deferment Calculator to help you learn more about this program.

With most Perkins loans, the interest that accumulates during your hardship deferment will be paid off by the U.S. Department of Education when your deferment ends, but you should discuss this with your loan servicer to ensure your loan is covered. This policy may differ if your Perkins loans were issued by a state agency. If you have additional federal student loans, some do continue to accrue interest, and you should discuss the effect of any hardship deferment with your loan servicer.

Perkins loans are not eligible for the Income Driven Repayment Plan, unless they are consolidated into a Direct Consolidation Loan.

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