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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013

Student loan forgiveness for homesteading

By Clark Howard


Are you overwhelmed with student loan debt? Here's an out of the box idea that might help.

Several communities across the country suffering from brain drain want to pay your educational bills in exchange for you being a homesteader.

At least 50 counties in Kansas qualify as what are called Rural Opportunity Zones. In return for living in these communities, they'll absorb up to $15,000 of your student loan debt and exempt you from state income tax for five years. You don't have to be a resident of the state to qualify for this program; about 75% of applicants have so far made the cut.

A similar program recently launched in Niagara Falls, NY, has been getting a lot of media attention. Niagara Falls is offering up to $3,500 a year in loan forgiveness if you'll either rent and live there full time or buy a home in the community that you occupy as a full-time resident. Kiplinger reports there's active proposal in New Jersey to offer a likeminded program in Trenton, Camden, and Jersey City.

Now, it may not be your cup of tea to live in rural Kansas, upstate New York, or downtrodden areas of the Garden State. But it's no picnic if you're overwhelmed with student loan debt. I have more info in my student loan guide to help you with repayment options for federal student loans.

Private student loans, however, are a real burden. I can't minimize the hardship they place on people through adulthood. The key message for you is no matter what, do *not* borrow a private student loan. They are poison. Watch this video to understand why.

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