By tamara “What do you want to be when you grow up?” How many times have you been asked this question? We start hearing it in elementary school, where we dream of being ballerinas, firemen or doctors. In high school, the question gets a bit more serious, as we face the decision of declaring a college major. If you find yourself at a crossroads, not quite sure of which direction to take, now might be a good time to conduct a little career evaluation and delve into some research on which careers might be best for you. Another thing to consider when determining your major, and ultimately your career, is the possibility of career scholarships and/or loan forgiveness programs attached to your fields of interest. While most people are familiar with scholarships (free money for college), few are aware of the many loan forgiveness programs available to help students who choose to major (and later work) in certain fields of study. Typically, forgivable loan programs act as scholarships where the obligation to repay is waived, so long as students make good on their promises of service in the specified career areas after college. Check out some of the career fields with loan forgiveness programs that may interest you. Nursing Many states offer nurses the opportunity for loan forgiveness. The programs may or may not be based on financial need and always include a minimum service requirement for repayment waivers. The College Foundation of North Carolina offers $3,000 (AND) and $5,000 (BSN) forgivable loans to high school seniors or older students who enroll in programs to become RNs or LPNs and sign contracts to work a minimum of six (6) months in North Carolina after the coursework is completed. Those failing to fulfill the work obligation must repay the funds in full. Ohio offers a similar forgivable loan program in nursing, but requires five (5) years of consecutive service in the state. Learn more about other nursing loan forgiveness programs here. Veterinary The Mississippi Office of Student Financial Aid offers up to $24,000 in tuition assistance to minority students who enroll full-time at Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Upon graduation, students must perform one year of service for each year of scholarship received. If the service portion is not completed, the scholarship converts to a loan and must be repaid in full. See if your state has a veterinary loan forgiveness program here. Teaching Teachers probably have access to more loan forgiveness programs than those in any other profession, especially if they plan to teach in a STEM subject or critical shortage area. Mississippi covers the cost of full tuition plus room & board for education students who agree to immediate employment upon graduation in a critical shortage area or subject. Nearly every state has some form of forgivable loan program for those entering the teaching profession. If you have already completed your teaching degree, you may still qualify for up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness through the Stafford Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. When considering a major and a career choice, it’s always good to do a little research. Be sure to check out some of the online career search tools, such as the one at WiseChoice.com, to find potential jobs that may suit your personality and passions. Once you have a few options, explore the financial aid opportunities available, including scholarships and loan forgiveness programs. With a little planning, you may be able to graduate debt-free and be instantly employed!