Students listen to U.S. President Barack Obama talk about the rising costs of student loans while at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, April 25, 2012. Reuters/Larry Downing
But not everybody realizes you can sometimes get out of paying some of your student loans.
The US government even discharges debt completely in some cases, like if your college collapses while you're still getting your degree.
Full Discharge of loans
Full discharge of student loans occurs in serious instances. If your school has closed down while you are still enrolled and you can't graduate, you are often eligible for a full discharge of your loans.
People who aren't eligible for a discharge through these extreme circumstances can be eligible for partial student-loan forgiveness through other means.
Public service loan forgiveness
This loan forgiveness plan offers a fairly quick way out of paying your student loans. If you work in public service (including jobs with the federal, state, or local government), or for a tax-exempt nonprofit organization, you may qualify for early termination of your loans after 10 years under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
To qualify, you must make 120 on-time payments. Paying ahead for future months does not count as one of your 120 scheduled payments.
The bottom line is that you can get out of your student loans in 10 years if you don't miss a payment and work at a public service job.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness
If you're a teacher at a low-income school, as indicated on an annual list determined the federal government, you are eligible for 100% discharge of your Perkins student loan (a type of need-based loan).
In addition to Perkins Loan forgiveness, those who teach in low-income schools for five consecutive years can also have $17, 500 taken off their student loan balance of Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans and Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans.