Are you a speech-language pathologist with student loan debt? You’re not alone. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the average speech-language pathologist has over $50,000 in student loan debt.
But there’s good news! You may be eligible for student loan forgiveness through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.
Speech-language Pathologist Student Loan Debt and Salary
The speech-language pathologist (SLP) field is growing rapidly, with the demand for SLPs projected to increase by 19% by 2026.1 According to the 2018 speech-language pathology salary survey conducted by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the average annual salary for speech-language pathologists was $77,510.2 With such a large demand and promising salary potential, it’s no wonder that many students are considering a career in speech-language pathology.
However, speech-language pathology is also a field with relatively high levels of student loan debt. The ASHA reports that the median debt for speech-language pathology students is $86,000.3 This is due in part to the fact that most SLP programs are at the graduate level, meaning that students have to incur additional years of tuition and living expenses.
Fortunately, speech-language pathologists can expect to earn a salary that is commensurate with their level of education and training. The ASHA reports that the median annual salary for speech-language pathologists with 0-3 years of experience is $58,000, while those with 4 or more years of experience earn a median salary of $85,000.4 In other words, although speech-language pathologists may start their careers with a high amount of student loan debt, they can expect to earn a good salary that will allow them to repay their loans over time.
Student loan repayment for speech-language pathologists
If you’re a speech-language pathologist, you may be wondering how to best manage your student loan repayments.
Here are a few tips to help you get started.
1. Consolidate your loans
First, consider consolidating your loans. This can help to reduce your overall monthly payments by extending the repayment term.
2. Enroll in an income-driven repayment plan
You may also want to consider enrolling in an income-driven repayment plan. These plans base your monthly payment on your income and family size, which can help to make your loan repayments more manageable.
Loan forgiveness for speech-language pathologists
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program is a federal program that forgives the remaining balance on your Direct Loans after you make 120 qualifying monthly payments while working full-time for a qualifying employer.
To be eligible for PSLF, you must work for a qualifying employer, which includes:
- A government organization at any level (federal, state, local, or tribal)
- A not-for-profit organization that is tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code
- A private not-for-profit organization that provides certain types of public services
- A tribal college or university
- A peace corps or AmeriCorps position
PSLF is intended for those who work in public service jobs, so you must have a job that involves providing a public service to qualify.
Examples of public service jobs include:
- Health care
- Public interest
- Law services
- Early childhood education
- Public library
- Military service
Best student loan repayment strategy for Speech-language Pathologists
It can be tough to figure out the best way to pay back your student loans. There are a lot of variables that can impact your situation, from your spouse’s income to your student loan type.
And if you have other financial goals in addition to paying off your student loans, it can be even more confusing figuring out where they fit into the plan.
By understanding your options and making a plan, you can save money and stay on track for your career goals.
We can help you develop a plan that works for you, so don’t hesitate to reach out for a consultation.