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Guide to Colorado Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

Guide to Colorado Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
Rebecca Safier
Rebecca SafierUpdated December 22, 2022
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Nearly half of Colorado students graduate with debt, with an average balance of $26,424, according to the Institute for College Access & Success. If you’re one of them, you might qualify for help paying off your loans with one of the Colorado student loan forgiveness programs. Colorado offers several repayment assistance programs to residents to help them ditch their education debt. Read on to learn about your options for student loan forgiveness in Colorado. 

Why Does Colorado Offer Student Loan Forgiveness?

Colorado offers student loan forgiveness programs to help students pay off their education debt. These repayment assistance programs can incentivize professionals to work in certain shortage areas. In 2019, for instance, Colorado legislators passed a bill to address Colorado’s educator shortages by providing loan forgiveness to teachers. It encouraged teachers to serve in rural and hard-to-fill positions by offering repayment assistance on qualifying loans. Loan repayment assistance programs often require professionals to commit to a few years of working in a shortage or high-need area. In addition, some schools in Colorado provide loan assistance to their alumni so they can afford to give back to their communities by working in nonprofit organizations. 

How Does Colorado Student Loan Forgiveness Work?

The rules of Colorado student loan forgiveness vary by program, but most require you to work in a specific profession or designated shortage area for a certain period of time. The programs may also have rules around which types of loans qualify for assistance. Some offer annual repayment awards, which you can use toward paying off a student loan. The award amounts may fluctuate depending on changes in funding or legislation over the years. Recommended: Your Guide to Choosing a Student Loan Repayment Plan

5 Colorado Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

If you’re a Colorado resident, here are five student loan forgiveness programs that may be worth exploring. 

1. Colorado Health Service Corps

The Colorado Health Service Corps program provides up to $120,000 in student loan assistance to doctors and other qualified health professionals. Professions that qualify include:
  • Physicians
  • Pharmacists
  • Dentists 
  • Dental hygienists 
  • Psychologists 
  • Social workers
  • Counselors 
  • Marriage and family therapists
  • Nurse practitioners 
  • Nurse-midwives 
  • Physician assistants
  • Psychiatric nurse specialists 
  • Addiction counselors 
The amount of loan assistance you can receive varies by position and whether you work full-time or part-time. You’ll also need to commit to three years of working in a health professional shortage area. Recommended: Guide to Pharmacy School Loan Forgiveness 

2. University of Denver Sturm College of Law Loan Repayment Assistance Program

Some law schools provide student loan assistance to qualifying alumni. The Sturm College of Law, for instance, offers up to five years of loan assistance to lalumni and work in public service and make less than $75,000 per year. You must also have a J.D. law degree and have graduated after 2003. Award amounts vary, but will typically cover between 15% and 75% of your monthly student loan bills. This program accepts applications every year. You’ll need to provide some documentation to apply, including federal and private student loan statements, employment verification, recommendation letters, and a personal essay. 

3. Colorado’s Law Loan Repayment Assistance Program

The University of Colorado Boulder’s law school provides up to $6,500 of loan repayment assistance per year for five years to graduates who have public interest employment and earn less than $67,000 per year. You must work for at least 35 hours per week in a 501(c)(3) organization or a government agency or with underserved populations. Alternatively, you must provide legal help to underserved communities. You’ll have to apply on an annual basis to continue receiving the award. 

4. Rural Essential Access Provider (REAP) Loan Repayment Program

The REAP loan repayment program provides between $7,500 and $30,000 in loan forgiveness to medical professionals in Colorado. Qualifying professions include doctor, nurse, social worker, pharmacist, and others. You’ll need to work for at least two years, either part-time or full-time, at a designated REAP site. If your site isn’t on the REAP list, it might still qualify if it’s in a rural or frontier area and provides primary care services to people on Medicaid, Medicare, or CHP+. 

5. State Dental Loan Repayment Program

Colorado dentists might get relief from their student loans through the State Dental Loan Repayment Program. This program awards up to $50,000 to general and pediatric dentists and up to $12,000 to dental hygienists. Regardless of your role, you must see at least 80 patients per month and commit to working in an underserved community for at least two years. You can apply for this program with the Colorado Health Service Corps application.Recommended: 6 Pros and Cons of Student Loan Refinancing

Other Options for Student Loan Forgiveness 

Outside of Colorado student loan forgiveness, you might also find other programs that can offer relief. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, for example, will forgive your remaining federal student loan balance after 10 years of public service and 120 qualifying payments. The Teacher Loan Forgiveness program provides up to $17,500 to qualifying teachers who work for five consecutive years. And the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment program can pay off up to 85% of your student loan debt if you’re a nurse or nurse faculty working in a shortage area or qualifying school. These are just a handful of the national programs that can help. There are a number of other additional options for getting your student loans forgiven that you can explore. You can also look into student loan forgiveness by state for programs that apply to you.

Student Loan Cancellation for Special Circumstances 

The government will also cancel student loan debt for certain circumstances. For instance, you could get your federal student loans canceled if you experience a total and permanent disability. Some borrowers have also had their loans discharged through borrower defense to repayment because they were defrauded by their school. 

The Takeaway

Colorado offers several student loan repayment assistance programs that can help you pay off your student loans. Most of these programs require you to work in a certain profession for at least two years with an underserved population. You can also explore options for national student loan forgiveness programs, such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Teacher Loan Forgiveness. These programs will forgive some or all of your student loans, regardless of which state you live in. Student loan forgiveness programs can be helpful if you owe a lot of debt and need help paying it off. Explore your options on both the state and national level to see if you can speed up the time to repay student loans and bring your balance down to zero. 

3 Student Loan Refinancing Tips

  1. Once the pandemic-related pause on federal student loan payments ends, going back to making payments may be hard on budgets. One solution is to refinance to a lower interest rate, longer loan term, or both, depending on your situation. (The tradeoff is that you’ll be forfeiting federal benefits such as repayment programs.) Find and compare your student loan refinance options.
  2. Paying extra each month on your student loan can reduce the interest you pay and so lower your total loan cost over time. (The law prohibits prepayment penalties on federal or private student loans.)
  3. If you teach full-time for five complete and consecutive academic years in a low-income school, you may be eligible for federal student loan forgiveness.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Colorado offer student loan forgiveness?
What student loan forgiveness programs does Colorado offer?
How do you qualify for Colorado student loan forgiveness?
Photo credit: iStock/Drazen Zigic

About the Author

Rebecca Safier

Rebecca Safier

Rebecca Safier has nearly a decade of experience writing about personal finance. Formerly a senior writer with LendingTree and Student Loan Hero, she specializes in student loans, financial aid, and personal loans. She is certified as a student loan counselor with the National Association of Certified Credit Counselors (NACCC).
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