Student loan forgiveness programs can erase some or all of your student loan debt. These programs all have unique requirements and approval standards, and some of them are available only for specific professions (i.e., teachers, military, etc.). For students willing to work in specific jobs or meet other requirements for several years, student loan forgiveness can be a huge relief — and lead to tens of thousands of dollars in savings.
The key to maximizing student loan forgiveness is understanding how your program operates and following the directions closely. Here are some of the top forgiveness programs and how they work. While not all forgiveness programs will work for every student, most borrowers can find a program to help them get at least some of their student loan debt erased.
Student loan forgiveness programs are typically dependent on service in a particular occupation, like a job in the nonprofit sector or a qualified public service position. The following programs require some time commitment before your debt is discharged, but you could see your debt forgiven after five to 25 years.
1. Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is geared toward graduates willing to work in a qualified public service position for 10 years. The program requires full-time employment with a U.S. federal, state, local or tribal government or a not-for-profit organization. This time does not have to be spent working for the same employer.
You have to make 120 on-time payments on an income-driven repayment plan to qualify, and you generally must have either Direct Loans or a Direct Consolidation Loan for your monthly payments to count. However, the U.S. Department of Education announced new changes to the PSLF program, which will allow borrowers who made payments with an FFEL or Perkins Loan to have those payments count toward PSLF as long as they consolidate those loans and applied for PSLF before Oct. 31, 2022.
If you can meet all of the requirements for this program, you can have your remaining loan balance forgiven after 120 qualifying payments.
2. Teacher Loan Forgiveness
Teacher Loan Forgiveness is offered to teachers who have “been employed as a full-time, highly qualified teacher for five complete and consecutive academic years” at a low-income school or educational service agency. At least one of those years must be after the 1997-98 academic year, and the loans must have been made before the end of the five years you spent in qualifying teaching service.
If you qualify for this relief, you can receive up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness, depending on what subjects you teach. Secondary-school mathematics and secondary-school science teachers, as well as all special education teachers, can qualify for the full $17,500 in loan forgiveness. Teachers in other subjects can receive up to $5,000 in loan forgiveness.
3. Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program
If you’re a licensed registered nurse, an advanced practice registered nurse or a nurse faculty member with qualifying nursing debt, you may be eligible for the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program. Additional requirements include working full-time in an eligible high-need nursing area and a degree from an accredited school.
Upon qualification for this program, you can have 60 percent of your loans forgiven after two years of service. Once you complete the first two years of the program, you can apply for a third year of service and have another 25 percent forgiven.
4. Income-driven repayment plans
Income-driven repayment plans (IDR) can lead to forgiveness of your remaining student loan balance after many years of reduced payments. The most common plans are Pay As You Earn (PAYE), Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE), Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) and Income-Based Repayment (IBR).
Each plan requires you to pay a percentage of your discretionary income for 20 to 25 years before receiving loan forgiveness for the remaining balance. To qualify for income-driven repayment plans, you must have eligible federal student loans and recertify your income yearly.
5. Student loan forgiveness for military members
If you’re a current service member or veteran, there are plenty of ways to get the government to pay some of your federal student loans.
One option is the National Defense Student Loan Discharge benefit, which can help military members get some or all of their Perkins Loans canceled if they qualify for hostile-fire or imminent-danger pay. If the borrower’s military service ended before Aug. 14, 2008, they could qualify for up to 50 percent forgiveness; if their military service began on or after that date, they could qualify for up to 100 percent forgiveness.
National Guard members may also be eligible for the Student Loan Repayment Program, which grants up to $50,000 in student loan forgiveness after completing an eligible service contract.
6. Forgiveness programs for doctors
If you’re a doctor, you may be able to receive some student loan relief by qualifying for a loan forgiveness program. Most loan forgiveness programs for medical professionals require you to work in a high-need area for a few years, but the forgiveness amounts you can qualify for tend to be high.
For example, the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program offers up to $50,000 of forgiveness in exchange for two years of full-time work and up to $25,000 for half-time work in an approved position.
Other loan forgiveness programs for doctors include the Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration Primary Care Loans program.
Several branches of the military, including the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force, have loan forgiveness programs for health professionals who serve in the military. Doctors are also eligible for PSLF if they work for a qualifying employer.
7. Loan forgiveness programs for lawyers
There are also quite a few forgiveness programs aimed at lawyers with student loan debt, although some are administered through specific law schools and limited to their students. Numerous state-based loan repayment assistance programs also exist, so check which of these options may be available to you.
On a national level, students can consider the Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program, which could forgive up to $6,000 of student loan debt each year and up to $60,000 in total.
8. Loan forgiveness programs for AmeriCorps
Borrowers serving full-time in AmeriCorps are eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Additionally, the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award is granted to individuals who meet and complete the approved terms of national service in the AmeriCorps program. This award can be put toward your education costs at any approved postsecondary educational institution or GI Bill-approved program.
You can also use funds from the award to repay qualifying student loans. The amount equals the maximum amount of a Pell Grant, which is $7,395 for the 2023-24 award year. This amount can change from year to year.
Individuals who have completed their service in an approved AmeriCorps program can also be eligible to have up to 100 percent of interest payments accrued during their time of service paid for by the Office of the National Service Trust (also known as the Trust). This is only possible for those who have completed their term of service and have earned the Segal AmeriCorps Education award.
9. Student loan discharge programs
Student loan discharge is when you’re no longer required to make loan payments due to unforeseen circumstances like a school closure or a total and permanent disability. There are a few instances where your student loans could be completely discharged. Here are some examples and what you should know about discharge programs.
Perkins Loan cancellation
Under certain circumstances, your Perkins Loan can be discharged. Here are some circumstances where you might qualify for Perkins Loan cancellation:
You’re a special education teacher or teacher in a field of expertise with a shortage of qualified teachers in your state.
You’re a teacher in a school that serves students from low-income families.
You volunteer or hold another eligible job under the Perkins Loan cancellation program. These jobs include firefighters, law enforcement officers, public defenders, speech pathologists and more.(Video) How Student Loan Repayment Is About to Dramatically Change | WSJ
The application for the cancellation can be made to your school’s Perkins Loan servicer. Your school or servicer can walk you through the application process and guide you through the specific documentation necessary. If you qualify, you may be able to cancel up to 100 percent of your Perkins Loan.
Closed school discharge
If you currently have a Direct Loan, a FFEL Loan or a Federal Perkins Loan, you may be eligible for 100 percent discharge of your federal student loans. Here are the circumstances where full discharge is possible:
Your school closed within 120 days of your withdrawal (before July 1, 2020) or within 180 days of your withdrawal (on or after July 1, 2020).
Your school closed while you were enrolled.
You were on an approved leave of absence when your school closed.
Contact your loan servicer if any of these circumstances apply to you. Your servicer can provide you with information about the application process for getting your loans discharged, as well as what to do if your application gets denied.
Borrower defense to repayment
If your school misled you, engaged in misconduct or violated certain state laws, you may be eligible for federal student loan forgiveness. If you’re deemed eligible, you may be able to have all or part of your federal Direct Loans forgiven or be reimbursed for the money you’ve already paid toward your loans.
To qualify for borrower defense, you can apply through the online application on the Federal Student Aid website. You may need to submit extra electronic documentation during the application process, so review the required documentation before applying.
Total and permanent disability discharge
If you’re totally and permanently disabled, you may qualify for federal student loan relief based on your disability. Applicants need to complete and submit a TPD discharge application, along with any required documentation and send it to disability discharge servicer Nelnet. When you apply, you’ll likely need to provide documentation from a physician, the Social Security Administration or the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
You can also be released from any TEACH grant obligations if you meet one of the above requirements. For more information on how to contact Nelnet and apply for a TPD discharge, visit the Federal Student Aid’s TPD information resource center.
Discharge due to death
Federal student loans will be fully discharged after the borrower’s death once proof of death is submitted. If your parents took out a PLUS loan on your behalf, that can also be discharged with the correct documentation.
If you’re planning on applying for a student loan discharge due to death, you’ll need to provide a death certificate or a certified copy of the certificate. Contact your loan servicer for the documentation and submission requirements.
What to do if you don’t qualify for student loan debt forgiveness programs
If you have private student loans or your career makes it impossible to qualify for a traditional loan forgiveness program, you’ll need to pursue other options. Consider these strategies to pay off your student loans once and for all:
Switch up your repayment plan: If you don’t qualify for federal loan forgiveness but need a lower monthly payment, see if you can play around with your repayment plan. Federal loans offer plans that let you repay your balance for up to 30 years, which could significantly lower your monthly bill.
Refinance your student loans: Refinancing your private student loans can be a smart idea if you have good or excellent credit or a co-signer. Private lenders can offer extremely low interest rates, and you can choose a repayment plan that works for your needs and budget.
Pay more than the minimum: If you want to ditch your loans as fast as possible and cut down on interest charges, consider paying more than the minimum each month. You’ll need to notify your loan servicer and specify that you want your overpayment to go toward the principal of your loan balance and not toward your next payment.
If you qualify for student loan forgiveness or discharge, conducting the proper research and ensuring that you have the approved documentation can help you get the forgiveness you need. The application process can vary based on the situation, so contact your loan servicer if you have any questions.
If you’re still having trouble paying your student loans but don’t qualify for a forgiveness program, refinancing your student loans can save you money by lowering your interest rate and consolidating multiple loans into a single monthly payment.
Frequently asked questions
The Biden Administration proposed a student debt relief plan that is currently being challenged in court. There has been a significant focus on improving existing programs — broadening eligibility requirements or automating the forgiveness process for programs like TPD discharge, borrower defense to repayment and Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
There are fraudulent companies that claim that they can help you apply for loan forgiveness or cancellation if you pay them a one-time or ongoing fee. If you are contacted by a company saying that you’re eligible for loan forgiveness and promising to help you apply, this is likely a scam. They will take their fee but not offer any loan forgiveness.Some companies may even pretend that you can’t receive loan forgiveness unless you use their services. This is another false claim. While loan forgiveness programs can be complicated, borrowers are able to file for loan forgiveness themselves without third-party intervention. When in doubt, contact your loan servicer directly to see which programs you may be eligible for.
Federal and private student loans have many differences. While the occasional court ruling impacts private student loans, as with the Navient settlement in 2022, this is a rare occurrence. While programs are established for federal loan forgiveness and cancellation, private lenders do not tend to afford the same allowances.
PSLF forgives the remaining balance on your Direct Loans after you have made 120 qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer.How can I get my student loan debt erased? ›
PSLF forgives the remaining balance on your Direct Loans after you have made 120 qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer.Are there any legitimate student loan forgiveness programs? ›
There are real federal loan forgiveness programs out there, including Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and Teacher Loan Forgiveness. But many companies will try to take advantage of borrowers by guaranteeing immediate results or requesting money up front for services they cannot provide.How do I know if my student loan has been forgiven? ›
How do I know if my student loans are forgiven? The Department of Education will notify you when your application is approved, and your loan servicer will update you once your loans are forgiven. Keep an eye out for any correspondence from your servicer via email or mail, and regularly check your loan balance online.Which student loans will be forgiven automatically? ›
If you continued paying your federal student loans during the forbearance period and now owe less than $10,000, you will not receive an automatic refund to bring your forgiveness amount up to $10,000. Only existing student loan debt will be forgiven, up to the $10,000 or $20,000 cap per borrower.What if all student debt was forgiven? ›
If you qualify for student loan forgiveness or discharge in full, you will get a notification and will no longer need to make payments. In some cases, you may even get a refund. If only some of your debt is canceled or discharged, you'll still be responsible for repaying the rest of what you owe.Who is eligible for loan forgiveness? ›
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program forgives the remaining balance on your federal student loans after 120 payments working full time for federal, state, Tribal, or local government; the military; or a qualifying non-profit. Learn more about PSLF and apply.How to remove student loans from credit report without paying? ›
You cannot remove a student loan from your credit report without paying if the entry is accurate. You can, however, file a dispute with the three major credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion – to correct fraudulent or false student loan account information on your report.Is there any downside to applying for student loan forgiveness? ›
Potentially the most significant drawback of student loan forgiveness is the taxes. With a few exceptions, including PSLF, the IRS considers the amount of your forgiven balance to be taxable income. Depending on how much is forgiven, that could amount to tens of thousands of dollars you owe in taxes.Who loses money for student loan forgiveness? ›
Low- and middle-income individuals
According to an analysis by the White House, 87% of the dollars forgiven under its plan would go to those making less than $75,000 a year. Meanwhile, any individuals earning more than $125,000 would be excluded from the relief all together.
If the loan is paid in full, the default will remain on your credit report for seven years following the final payment date, but your report will reflect a zero balance. If you rehabilitate your loan, the default will be removed from your credit report. Q.Will my credit score go up if my student loans are forgiven? ›
Borrowers who made student loan payments on time and who get the full amount of their loans forgiven could see a slight bump in their credit scores, according to Martin Lynch, director of education at Cambridge Credit Counseling. But the scores for many student-loan borrowers won't be dramatically impacted.Can I get student loan forgiveness if my loans are paid off? ›
If you paid off your entire student loan balance on or after March 13, 2020, you can contact your loan servicer to request a refund on any qualifying payments, as long as they were for one or more of the following types of loans that are eligible for student loan forgiveness:3.How long does it take for student loan forgiveness to be forgiven? ›
The balance of your loans will be forgiven after 20 years if you first borrowed after July 1, 2014, or 25 years if you borrowed before then. Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) Plan: In most cases, your payment is set at 20% of your discretionary income. Your balance can be forgiven after 25 years.Which states are trying to block student loan forgiveness? ›
Six states urge U.S. Supreme Court to keep block on Biden student debt relief. Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Carolina asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reject President Joe Biden's bid to reinstate his plan to cancel billions of dollars in student debt.What are the new rules for student loan forgiveness for 2023? ›
Borrowers who reach the threshold for student loan forgiveness after August 1, 2023 will receive a discharge after payments resume. These borrowers, along with other borrowers who receive credit under the adjustment but are short of the loan forgiveness threshold, will receive credit on a rolling basis through 2024.How many student loan borrowers will get forgiveness? ›
Frequently Asked Questions About Student Loan Forgiveness
In August 2022, President Biden announced a plan to forgive student loan debt for close to 39 million borrowers. Pell Grant recipients would be eligible for up to $20,000 in student loan forgiveness. Other qualifying borrowers would get up to $10,000 forgiven.
Loan Payments Are Not Qualified
The loan payments must have been made on time, within 15 days of the due date. Late payments do not count. Partial payments do not count. The borrower must not be in default on their federal loans.
What loans qualify for forgiveness? Only loans you received under the Direct Loan Program are eligible for PSLF. Loans you received under the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program, the Federal Perkins Loan (Perkins Loan) Program, or any other student loan program are not eligible for PSLF.What is a 609 letter for student loans? ›
The idea behind the 609 letter is that if the credit bureaus can't produce certain records required to verify a given debt, then they must remove that debt from your credit report. So basically, 609 letters give you the information you need to draft follow-up letters to dispute any errors under sections 611 and 623.
Long term, a reduction in student loan debt could help improve the formation of small businesses and households, as well as spur an increase in homeownership. Blanket student loan debt forgiveness would mostly benefit people who would have likely paid off their loans over the long term.Who is most affected by student loan forgiveness? ›
Student loans are not just a problem for young adults. The Department of Education estimates that more than one-third of the borrowers who will get relief are age 40 and up, including 5 percent who are senior citizens.What will canceling $10000 in student debt really do? ›
Student debt cancellation would help alleviate this burden and help families pay down other debt as well. A recent CNBC survey found that more than half of respondents would pay off other loans if student loans were canceled, and 45 percent would save for retirement.Is it worth it to apply for loan forgiveness? ›
If you have a large amount of student loan debt, then Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) could potentially save you thousands of dollars. It also might knock years off your student loan repayment timeline. You must meet all of the criteria to be eligible for college loan forgiveness, but the payoff can be worth it.Will banks lose money on student loan forgiveness? ›
FFEL and Perkins loans are slightly different than other federally backed student loans as these are owned by private banks, but guaranteed by the government. The banks earn revenue from servicing and maintaining those loans. So if the loans are forgiven, the banks will lose out on that income.At what age do student loans get written off? ›
Are student loans forgiven when you retire? The federal government doesn't forgive student loans at age 50, 65, or when borrowers retire and start drawing Social Security benefits. So, for example, you'll still owe Parent PLUS Loans, FFEL Loans, and Direct Loans after you retire.What happens if you don't pay off student loans in 25 years? ›
Any outstanding balance on your loan will be forgiven if you haven't repaid your loan in full after 20 years or 25 years, depending on when you received your first loans. You may have to pay income tax on any amount that is forgiven.Can student loans take your house? ›
Risk losing your home: Rolling your student debt into your mortgage can make your once unsecured loans secured. If you default on the loan because the payments are higher, you could lose your home since your house is the collateral for your mortgage.How will my credit score change when my student loans are forgiven? ›
Your credit score might rise. For some people, student loan forgiveness could actually lead to a higher credit score. That's because eliminating up to $20,000 in debt could constitute a major decrease in your total debt balance, which accounts for 30% of your FICO score.Will Biden cancel $10k student debt? ›
President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that he will forgive $10,000 in federal student debt for most borrowers, fulfilling a campaign pledge and delivering financial relief to millions of Americans. Biden will cancel up to $20,000 for recipients of Pell Grants.
Some borrowers will receive sufficient retroactive credit under the IDR account adjustment to allow them to cross the threshold for student loan forgiveness, which occurs after a borrower has made 20 or 25 years' worth of payments.Who stopped the Biden student loan forgiveness? ›
In Thursday's ruling, Judge Mark T. Pittman, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, wrote that the program was a "complete usurpation" of congressional authority by the executive branch.What states are suing Biden for student loans? ›
She added: “The Department of Education is required, under the law, to collect the balance due on loans. And President Biden does not have the authority to override that.” The states of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Carolina joined Arkansas in filing the lawsuit.What's happening with Biden's student debt relief? ›
Borrowers who reached 240 or 300 months' worth of payments for income-driven repayment forgiveness or 120 months of public service loan forgiveness will begin to see their loans forgiven in spring 2023. All other borrowers will see their accounts updated in summer 2023.How to know if you automatically qualify for Biden's student loan forgiveness? ›
Eligibility for Biden's Student Loan Cancellation Plan
You must earn less than $125,000 a year for individuals, or $250,000 for married couples and/or head of households.
A refund check is money that is directly deposited to you by your college. It is the excess money left over from your financial aid award after your tuition and additional fees have been paid. Your college may send you a check or the money may be deposited into your checking account.Will my tax refund be taken for student loans 2023? ›
This means that your tax return won't be taken to offset your outstanding federal student loan balance for the 2023 tax season. The U.S. Department of Education says these collections will stay paused for six months after this payment pause ends. Eligible loans include: Defaulted Direct Loans.How can I get rid of my student loan debt? ›
- Enroll in an income-driven repayment plan.
- See if you qualify for student loan forgiveness.
- Consolidate multiple student loans into one payment.
- Pay down extra toward the principal.
- Refinance your student loans at a lower rate.
- Explore deferment or forbearance.
Log in to StudentAid.gov to track your PSLF progress. For updates on your application status, visit MOHELA's website or contact them at 1-855-265-4038. Be aware that MOHELA is experiencing historic submission volume that may delay response time.Can student loans be erased from credit report? ›
It can take 7–10 years for student loans to be erased from your credit report. Defaulted student loans take seven years to be removed from your credit report while paid-off student loans may stay on your report for 10 years.
Any outstanding balance on your loan will be forgiven if you haven't repaid your loan in full after 20 years (if all loans were taken out for undergraduate study) or 25 years (if any loans were taken out for graduate or professional study).How to get rid of student loans after 7 years? ›
Defaulted student loans are removed automatically from your credit report after seven years. If the default is still showing on your credit report, you can get the default status removed by completing the student loan rehabilitation program.What is a 609 letter to remove student loans? ›
Your right to dispute information in your credit report is covered in sections 611 and 623 of the FCRA. The idea behind the 609 letter is that if the credit bureaus can't produce certain records required to verify a given debt, then they must remove that debt from your credit report.What happens if I haven't paid student loans in 10 years? ›
Your credit score will plummet.
Your servicer will add the missed payments for each of your loans to the three major credit bureaus, which will raise the interest rates you get for credit cards, auto loans, home loans, and the like.
Federal student loans aren't like other debts that have a statute of limitations and eventually fall off your credit report if you don't pay them. Federal student loans have no statute of limitations, meaning the government can try to collect their money for as long as they want.Why did my student loans disappear? ›
There is no program for loan forgiveness or cancellation after seven years. But if you recently checked your credit report and wondered, “why did my student loans disappear?” The answer is that you have defaulted student loans.Can you lose your home over student loans? ›
Risk losing your home: Rolling your student debt into your mortgage can make your once unsecured loans secured. If you default on the loan because the payments are higher, you could lose your home since your house is the collateral for your mortgage.Do my student loans ever expire? ›
Federal student loans do not have a statute of limitations, so lenders and collections agencies have no time limit when it comes to forcing you to pay (aka suing you).Can you buy a house with student loans in default? ›
Borrowers do not have to pay outstanding private student loans to qualify for a mortgage loan. However, all federal defaulted student loans need to be paid or in a workout payment plan for you to be eligible for a government-backed mortgage loan.