Federal Student Loan Relief Programs

Get Help With Your Federal Student Loan Debt!

In 2017, there are still plenty of options to receive Federal Student Loan Relief, via an assortment of programs offered by the Federal Government.

If you’re having trouble making your monthly payments, then I’ve got great news, because it’s highly likely that you’ll qualify for at least one (if not more) of the many benefits packages now on offer, each of which could stand to save you tens of thousands of dollars over the length of your loan.

Whether you’re looking to get on a student loan forgiveness program, put your payments on hold for a bit, consolidate several loans into a single loan, or simply reduce your monthly payments, there are plenty of different opportunities on offer to get you effective debt relief.

And while many people still don’t even realize that these programs exist at all, I’ll walk you through each of them in detail to ensure that you don’t miss anything you may be eligible to take advantage of.

This page focuses on opportunities to get help with Federal Student Loans, so if you have Private debt, then please visit my page on Private Student Loan Debt Relief.



But Before We Get Into It…

If you’re in a hurry to get some relief for your Federal loans, or if you’re confused about how to actually take advantage of the debt relief programs after reading this post, then I suggest calling the Student Loan Relief Helpline.

The Student Loan Relief Helpline is a private business staffed by student loan debt experts who can offer you advice about how to deal with your outstanding debt. They will speak to you for free, but will also offer to perform services for you, for an added cost.

If you’re the type of person who needs help with research, paperwork, legal issues, or other things, then the Student Loan Relief Helpline is your best opportunity for paying a small fee to get these things taken care of so that you don’t have to worry about doing them yourself.

However, do keep in mind that anything ANY student loan debt relief company offers to do for you, you can do entirely on your own. The benefits to paying someone else to deal with your loans for you are that you’ll save time, increase the chances of getting your debt resolved quickly, and avoid the stress of having to figure everything out on your own.

My advice is to read through this page, then call the Student Loan Relief Helpline and ask them if you qualify for any of the programs mentioned here. Again, the call is free, and you should be able to get some advice from them without having to spend a single cent.

To reach the Student Loan Relief Helpline, call 1-888-906-3065.


Federal Student Loan Debt Relief Programs

Over the past few years, Americans have made it clear that they are in favor of offering Student Loan Debt Relief to virtually everyone with college loans, and since 2010, the Politicians have responded in a big way.

There are now tons of Federal student loan debt relief programs on offer, and even better opportunities that have recently been proposed. In fact, President Trump’s Student Loan Debt Forgiveness Plan is the best that’s ever been suggested (for the average borrower at least), and will save most American college students thousands to tens of thousands of dollars over the course of their loans.

Currently, the best student loan debt relief benefits are available via President Obama’s Student Loan Forgiveness Program, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, Teacher Loan Forgiveness Programs, Nursing Loan Forgiveness Programs, Military Loan Forgiveness Programs, and a variety of other exceptional Government debt relief programs detailed below.

The rest of this page goes through options for Federal student loan debt relief, explaining each of the potential opportunities in detail. For additional information about any of these topics, make sure to visit the other pages of my site (find them in the navigation menu, or simply click the links within the content below).

If you still have questions about any of these programs after reading through my site, please feel free to ask them in the Comments section at the bottom of any page. I’ll do my best to get you a response as quickly as possible.


Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

The best way to get rid of your Government-funded school loans is to get them wiped out with one of the amazing Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Programs.

These programs are by far the easiest way to get out of debt, because they literally wipe out whatever you owe without requiring you to do anything other than pay taxes on the amount of debt that was forgiven.

In 2017, the Federal Government offers a wide variety of different forgiveness programs, including programs for all sorts of different reasons, mostly based on your career path.

Read on to discover what opportunities are available, and to find out which ones you can take advantage of.

Don’t neglect anything on this page, because if you do qualify for one of these exceptional forgiveness programs, then you could stand to save tens of thousands of dollars!

1. President Obama’s Student Loan Forgiveness Program

One of the best updates in history Federally-funded student loan relief programs came in the form of President Obama’s Student Loan Forgiveness Program.

Introduced just a few years ago, this program has already undergone some major changes, but the biggest update of recent years was that President Obama finally opened up federal forgiveness benefits to all borrowers, instead of only those who had taken out their loans since 2007.


3 Pieces of President Obama’s Forgiveness Program

  1. Those who qualify receive complete Federal Student Loan Forgiveness after making 240 monthly payments (20 years’ worth of payments), no matter how much debt is left
  2. The introduction of the Pay As You Earn Student Loan Repayment Plan (explained in detail below), which is by far the best Repayment Plan currently available
  3. Updates to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (explained in detail below), dropping the requirement for receiving Federal Loan Forgiveness from 15 years to just 10

The only real downside to President Obama’s changes to Federal student loan debt assistance is that parts of the three tenets described above are only available to people who took out their student loans on or after October 1st, 2007.

To read about this program in detail, please visit my page about President Obama’s Student Loan Forgiveness Program, which you can find here.

2. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

The Public Service Forgiveness Program is one of the best ways to get help with Federal student loan debt, because it lets you wipe out your remaining debt after making payments for just 10 years!

Basically, as long as you qualify for the benefits, all you have to do is make 120 monthly payments (10 years’ worth of payments) on your Federal student loans, then you’ll be able to write the remaining balance off.

Which is awesome, except that there’s a couple major catches to the PSLF Program:

  1. Only payments made on or after October 1st, 2007 will count toward your required 120 payments, meaning that the soonest anyone can actually qualify for forgiveness is October 1st, 2017
  2. Only people who work in qualifying public service jobs will be able to take advantage of the program (that makes sense, but it still means that these benefits are limited to a tiny subset of the population of people who need help with Federal student loans)

The good news is that the Government’s definition of a “Public Service” job is not very restrictive, and includes all sorts of positions that you may not necessarily think of as being public service work.

To get the details on how Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness works, please visit my page about the program here.


3. Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness

If you happen to be a Nurse (or are considering becoming one), then I’ve got great news for you!

Nurses enjoy what I would say are the best student loan forgiveness benefits out of anyone, with three exceptional opportunities to get rid of their school loans.

As of 2017, here are the available Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness Programs currently on offer from the Federal Government:

  1. The NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program (NHSC) – For serving just 2 years at a qualifying healthcare facility, the Federal Government will pay off 60% of your qualifying nursing loans, and for an additional 1 year of service, they’ll pay off another 25% of your original balance
  2. The Perkins Loan Cancellation Program for Nurses & Licensed Medical Technicians – Nurses and LMTs can completely wipe out all debt related to Perkins Loans after serving as Nurses or LMTs for just five years!
  3. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program – By definition, anyone working as a Nurse will qualify for the PSLF Program (explained in detail above), which allows you to write off your student loan debt after making 10 years of monthly payments.

In addition to these excellent Federally-funded programs, there are also a variety of State-funded Nursing loan forgiveness programs on offer.

Currently, I’m aware of Nursing forgiveness benefits being provided by the following states:

  • California
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • New York
  • Texas

For details on each of the student loan forgiveness programs outlined above, please visit my page about Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness, which you’ll find here.


4. Teacher Student Loan Forgiveness

Like Nurses, Teachers have access to all sorts of excellent Federal student loan relief benefits.

In 2017, there are four specific Federally-funded programs offering student loan forgiveness benefits to teachers, including:

  1. The Federal TEACH Grants Program – These offer up to $4,000 a year in Federal financial assistance to college students who are enrolled in a program that will lead to a teaching credential, planning to teach full-time for at least 4 years, and planning to spend those 4 years teaching in a “high-need” field at an educational facility which primarily serves low-income families
  2. The Perkins Loan Forgiveness Program – Also referred to as “Teacher Loan Cancellation”, Perkins Loan Forgiveness lets you write off a percentage of your Perkins Loan debt each year of service at a school that primarily provides education to low-income families (or as a special education teacher, or a teacher in a designated “shortage area”, like math, science, foreign languages, etc)
  3. The Stafford Loan Forgiveness Program – This program offers up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness benefits to teacher who satisfy the eligibility conditions, including being employed full-time for 5 complete and consecutive years at an elementary or secondary school which qualifies for Title 1 funds, or which is listed in the Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools
  4. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program – As I’ve explained above a few times, the PSLF Program lets you write off all of your Federal student loan debt once you’ve made 120 monthly payments (10 years’ worth of payments)

But that’s not all! In addition to these Federally-funded student loan forgiveness programs for teachers, some States also offer forgiveness benefits of their own, including:

  • The Iowa Teacher Shortage Loan Forgiveness Program – This program offers up to $7,534 in loan forgiveness benefits for Federal Stafford Loans after completing just a single year of teaching!

For additional information about the forgiveness benefits available to teachers, please visit my page on Teacher Loan Forgiveness Programs, which you’ll find here.


5. Government Employee Student Loan Forgiveness

If you work for the Government at any level (including Federal, State, or even Local employees), then you too qualify for Federal financial assistance via the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

The great news is that this program is extremely easy to qualify for, because all you have to do is keep working at your current position (or another one that involves official Government employment), and you’ll be able to wipe out whatever student loan debt you have left after you’ve made 120 monthly payments (10 years’ worth of payments).

For specific details on how it works, please visit my page about Student Loan Forgiveness for Government Employees.


6. Non-Profit Student Loan Forgiveness

As of 2017, everyone who works for a Non-Profit in some capacity is also eligible to qualify for Federal financial assistance with their student loan debt, again via the PSLF program.

To qualify for Non-Profit forgiveness benefits, all you have to do is be employed full-time at a 501(c)(3) organization, or in any other role that would be considered a “Non-Profit Employee”.

Other types of jobs that would count for this program include:

  • Jobs with any Federal, State, or Local Government Agency
  • Jobs in the Military, Emergency Management, Public Safety or Law Enforcement
  • Jobs with Public Health Services, Public Education, Public Library Services or School-Based Services
  • Jobs with Public Interest Services, Early Childhood Education, Public Service for People with Disabilities or Public Service for the Elderly

As you can see, there are all sorts of ways to qualify for the Non-Profit Student Loan Forgiveness Program, which makes this one of the most popular form of forgiveness currently on offer.

To get details about how the program works, how you can apply to it and more, please visit this page.

7. Peace Corps & AmeriCorps Student Loan Forgiveness

Via the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, anyone who serves in the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps is also fully eligible to receive financial assistance with their student loans from the Federal Government.

For details on how the Peace Corps Student Loan Forgiveness Program works, please go here.


8. Military Loan Forgiveness Programs

They may be the most difficult form of Federal student loan debt relief to qualify for, but the Military Loan Forgiveness Programs do offer fantastic benefits for those needing help with excessive student loan debt.

Officially referred to as the College Loan Repayment Program, there’s a specific program set up for each service branch of the military:

  • The Army College Loan Repayment Program – Generally regarded as the best of the military repayment programs, Army SLRP offers up to $65,000 in forgiveness benefits, doled out on an annual basis that begins getting delivered after you qualify your first year of service
  • The Army Reserves College Loan Repayment Program – Army Reservists start qualifying for benefits after their first year of service too, but where regular Army personnel get 33.3% forgiven for one year of service, Reservists only receive half that amount each year
  • The Navy College Loan Repayment Program – Sailors get about the same benefits as Soldiers, being eligible for up to $65,000 in lifetime student loan forgiveness benefits, and qualifying for benefits after completing their first year of service
  • The Navy Reserves College Loan Repayment Program – Reserve Sailors are eligible for College Loan Repayment benefits, but they are only allowed to receive $10,000 in total loan forgiveness, and they have to agree to a service contract of at least 6 years
  • The Air Force College Loan Repayment Program – Airmen get CLRP benefits too, but they get short-changed compared to Soldiers and Sailors, with just $10,000 in lifetime total loan forgiveness available for similar service requirements
  • The National Guard College Loan Repayment Program – Both Officers and Enlisted Guardsmen are eligible for the National Guard’s version of CLRP, and they’re able to receive up to $50,000 in total forgiveness benefits, but this program has complicated eligibility requirements
  • The Marines College Loan Repayment Program – It seems to be a running joke that the Marines are constantly left out of programs that all other branches of the military get access to, and when it comes to loan forgiveness benefits, it’s the same tired story
  • The Coast Guard College Loan Repayment Program – Coast Guard personnel are fortunate enough to qualify for up to $30,000 in total loan forgiveness benefits upon enlisting in the service, doled out in increments of $10,000 for each year of completed service

The important thing to keep in mind about military loan forgiveness benefits is that some of these are offered on a first-come, first-served basis, and that the demand for funding far exceeds the amount of funds actually available.

What that means is that if you want to actually receive any money from one of these programs, you’ll need to get your application filled out and turned in as early as possible.

Another thing to keep in mind is that these programs are quite complicated, and that you don’t automatically qualify for both CLRP benefits and Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits at the same time.

To make sure that you’re able to take advantage of these benefits, please visit my page about the College Loan Repayment Program here.

Then, to make sure that you’re maximizing your other military benefits, please check out my Guide to Military Education Benefits.


Federal Student Loan Consolidation Programs

One of the fastest ways to get financial assistance for student loan debt from the Federal Government is to Consolidate Federal Student Loans.

Federal Student Loan Consolidation can save you a great deal of money, but only under certain circumstances – in others, it can lead to economic disaster.

The bad part about Direct Consolidation Loans is that they’re extremely complicated, and that determining whether or not one will help you will require all sorts of complicated calculations, but the good part about them is that they are entirely free!

To figure out if consolidation would work for you, please visit my page about Direct Consolidation Loans here.

Federal Student Loan Deferment Programs

Another extremely powerful form of federal debt relief for student loans is called a loan deferment.

The good news is that Federal Student Loan Deferment Programs exist for a wide variety of reasons, making virtually anyone who’s having trouble paying their monthly payments eligible to apply for and receive a deferment.

The bad news is that deferments aren’t as valuable as forgiveness, in that they don’t actually cancel any of your loan debt, but simply put your repayments on pause, giving you some breathing room to acquire more capital, generate some savings, and hopefully be able to afford those payments once they’re restarted.

There is a huge variety of deferment programs available now, with over 15 unique ways to qualify for a deferment at the time of this writing.


Available deferment programs include:

  • Economic Hardship Deferments
  • Unemployment Deferments
  • In-School Deferments
  • Military Service Deferments
  • Post-Active Duty Deferments
  • Teacher Loan Deferments
  • Graduate Fellowship Deferments
  • Post-Enrollment Deferments
  • Domestic Volunteer Deferments
  • Internship & Residency Deferments
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Deferments
  • Parental Leave Deferments
  • Public Health Services Deferments
  • Rehabilitation Training Deferments
  • Tax-Exempt Volunteer Deferments
  • Temporary Total Disability Deferments
  • Working Mother Deferments

For details on each of these programs, please visit our page about federal student loan deferments, here, or click one of the links in the programs list above.

Federal Student Loan Forbearance Programs

Forbearances are extremely useful, as they’re typically made available those borrowers who can’t make their monthly student loan payments, but who don’t qualify for any of the deferment programs listed above.

What’s the difference between deferment and forbearance? Glad you asked!

While a deferment allows you to pause making loan payments, and in some cases also pause your interest accrual, a Student Loan Forbearance will pause your loan too, but it will never stop interest from accruing.

Forbearances come in two flavors, with Discretionary Forbearances and Mandatory Forbearances, each presenting it’s own eligibility criteria and specific mechanisms of action.


Discretionary Forbearance

A discretionary forbearance is granted only if your lender (whoever you make your student loan monthly payments to) agrees to offer it to you.

You can request a discretionary forbearance for either reasons of financial hardship, or serious illness, but it’s up to the lender to determine whether or not you actually qualify for the program.

Unfortunately, you know how that works – most lenders deny forbearance requests because they cost them money, add risk to their loans, etc.

Fortunately, there are ways to get around their denials, using Mandatory Forbearances, as detailed below.

Mandatory Forbearance

A mandatory forbearance is one that must be offered by your lender, as long as you meet particular eligibility requirements, including:

  • Serving in a medical or dental internship or residency program, and meeting some specific requirements
  • Owing 20% or more of your total monthly gross income to student loan debt repayments
  • Serving in a national service position, for which you’ve received a national service award
  • Performing a teaching service that would allow you to qualify for one of the teacher loan forgiveness programs
  • Qualifying for partial repayment of your loans under the U.S. Department of Defense’s Student Loan Repayment Program
  • Serving as a member of the National Guard and having been activated by a governor, but not being eligibel for traditional military deferments

For further details on how forbearances work, including how to apply for them, be sure to visit our page on Federal Student Loan Forbearances, here.


Federal Student Loan Repayment Programs

As of 2017, you have quite a few options for determining just how quickly, and in what way, you want to pay back your Federal student loans.

In fact, there are currently 7 different Federal Student Loan Repayment Options to choose from, each of which presents some unique pros and cons.

Here’s a quick introduction to each of the 7 plans:

The Standard Repayment Plan

The Standard Repayment Plan is the default plan for paying back Federally-funded student loan debt, and virtually all new Federal student loans are initially disbursed with this payment plan in place.

The standard plan requires paying off your loan in 10 years time, and includes fixed monthly payment that will not fluctuate based on your current income level.

This is the best plan for those borrowers who don’t plan on having trouble meeting monthly payments since it pays the loan off quickly, minimizing interest accrual.


The Graduated Repayment Plan

The Graduated Repayment Plan is perfect for recent college graduates who aren’t making much money now, but who expect to start making significantly more in the near and distant future.

Under this plan, you’ll have 10 years to pay back your debt, and your monthly payments will start off quite low, but end up increasing every two years.

This is a great plan for those borrowers who expect to start off earning a small income, but be able to rapidly climb the corporate ladder and begin making significantly more money every couple years.

The Extended Repayment Plan

The Extended Repayment Plan is excellent for people with a lot of student loan debt, or a high debt to income ratio, because it allows you to schedule your student loan payments all the way out to 25 years.

This plan reduces monthly payments, which is good in the short-run, but it also leads to generating significantly more interest costs over the course of your loan, making it way more expensive than a 10 year repayment plan.

We recommend this plan for borrowers who are virtually sure that they won’t be able to keep up with 10 year payment plans, due to relatively low income or relatively high student loan debt.


The Income-Based Repayment Plan

The Income-Based Repayment Plan has been around for years, and is a favorite for individuals who aren’t expecting regularly, steady paychecks, either because they work seasonal or temporary gigs, work as independent contractors, or receive salaries based off performance.

Income-based repayment allows you up to 25 years to pay off your student loans, and provides a flexible repayment schedule where monthly payments are determined based on your income, but the plan is only available to borrowers facing a “Partial Financial Hardship” (student loan debt that exceeds 15% of the difference between your adjusted gross income and 150% of the poverty line for your state and family size).

This plan is great for borrowers with fluctuating income levels, unsteady employment and difficulty meeting their monthly payments on the shorter, but temporarily more expensive 10 year plans.

The Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan

The Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan is new, and was recently introduced via President Obama’s Student Loan reforms enacted in 2012.

Pay As You Earn is similar to income-based repayment, except that it only offers up to 20 years to pay back your debt, and it limits monthly payments at a lower rate, to just 10% of your discretionary income.

Like income-based repayment, we recommend this plan only for those borrowers who can’t make their monthly payments on the 10 year plans, since far more interest accumulates on these longer repayment schedules.


The Income-Contingent Repayment Plan

The Income-Contingent Repayment Plan is similar to both Income-Based Repayment and the Pay As You Earn plan, where monthly payments are set based on income.

This plan recalculates your monthly payments each year, based on your adjusted gross income, family size, and total amount of student loan debt that you owe, allowing you up to 25 years to pay back your loans.

We recommend income-contingent repayment for those borrowers who don’t expect to have stable employment or stable income, but who can’t qualify for the other fluctuating plans, or afford the higher monthly payments required by 10 year plans.

The Income-Sensitive Repayment Plan

The Income-Sensitive Repayment Plan is almost identical to the income-contingent plan, but it only allows up to 10 years for paying off your debt.

This plan is better than the income-contingent repayment plan in that it prevents you from accumulating more interest over the course of your loan (increasing it’s total cost), but it will only work for those borrowers who can afford the relatively higher monthly payments associated with a shorter, 10 year plan.

Another downside to this plan is that your monthly payments aren’t determined based on a consistent formula established by the Federal Government, but by whatever formula your lender has decided to use, meaning that you may end up with a great, or a crappy deal.

For more details about each of these repayment options, and to figure out which one is best for you, check out our page on Federal Student Loan Repayment Programs, here.


Federal Student Loan Refinance Programs

Unfortunately, it’s still not yet possible to refinance your Federal student loan debt.

However, the good news is that Elizabeth Warren recently proposed making this possible.

To read about her attempt to make refinancing available to everyone with Federal student loans, view my page about the August, 2014 Elizabeth Warren Student Loans Bill.

Questions?

If you have questions about how these programs work, which programs you’re eligible for, how to apply for the programs, or even whether or not it’s a good idea, then please ask away in the comments section below.

I’ll do my best to get you a reply within 24 hours.

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Tim's experience struggling with crushing student loan debt led him to create the website Forget Student Loan Debt, where he offers advice on paying off student loans as quickly, and cheaply, as possible. His new website Forget Tax Debt, offers similar advice to people with back tax problems.

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Comments

  1. I’m a nurse at the VA hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. I have a Masters degree in nursing. I’ve worked in a Federal government facility for the last five years. I owe approximately $100,000 in federal student loans. My monthly loan debt is $600. In 10 years I plan to apply for the Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness. However, in the meantime, is there a free resource that I can inquire about a reduction to my monthly loan debt? My husband works only part-time and I have two sons. My budget is very tight. Please help.

  2. Can someone please call me? [Phone number redacted] I have questions. Max

  3. I received financial aid throughout school up through my Master’s. The debt I took on was $62,000.00 and after graduating 2 years ago I entered my repayment plan. My repayment plan is income-driven and I plan to qualify to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness as my Master’s is in Public Administration. In the meantime my total student debt is climbing since the payments are low. This has impacted me negatively when I recently went to buy a home and found out the way they evaluate income-driven student loans when calculating your debt to income ratio is ridiculous and they no longer take into consideration your actual monthly obligation, but use 1% of your total student loan debt. This makes my “monthly expenses” calculate as if I have $700 (approx.) in student loan payments. I get that my loans will be forgiven in 8 more years but in the meantime, buying a home is out of the questions and knowing that the deb is growing which will never allow my DTI to be healthy until the forgiveness kicks in seems like a very unfair trade off. It doesn’t seem economically smart in the long run to feverishly get my student loans down to buy a home now when in the long run thats money wasted. Please help me understand the rationale to this and are there smarter ways to handle the debt that won’t have lasting impacts like a delayed ability to purchase a home?

    • Hi Melissa,

      I don’t have any insight on the formula used to determine Debt to Income ratios, but I’d ask a loan officer to explain it to you. The banks are being much more heavily regulated now than ever before, because of the 2008 housing crisis, and it’s likely that things will get even WORSE moving forward, since everyone has become gun shy due to the fallout from 2008’s disaster.

  4. I attended college for a management degree from 2012-2015. Do I qualify for any loan forgiveness?

    • Hi Kirk,

      Yes! You should qualify for forgiveness benefits under the newest of the Federal Student Loan Repayment Plans, called the REPAYE Program. Check out the details for REPAYE here.

  5. Ebon Mitchell says:

    My student loans were from 2005. I am currently retired from the DCANG. And was under the SLRP program when I re-enlisted in the Guard. I was in the Guard for 8 years and only three years of my Student loans were paid. I was told by our retention personnel that they were 3 years behind in re-payment. And waited and waited for a response of what they were going to do to compensate me because I kept forebearing awaiting for the lump sum that was never paid. My Federal Student loans started at 26,000. and now 2 years after my retirement they are still at 27-28000. what can I do to find out about reimbursement or payment? Because once i retired I became a non -issue.

    • Hi Ebon,

      You should contact the Student Loan Ombudsman Group. This is a legal cooperative that offers free advice to people struggling with Federal Student Loan Debt, and they may be able to advocate on your behalf to get compensation from the military. You can reach them here: 1-877-557-2575.

  6. I am 62 and there are NO programs I fall under. I work PT as a nursing educator at a local college and work per deim at a local hospital. I owe 15,000 in student loans. Do U know of any programs I fit into? Thank You

    • Hi Joan,

      Working part time is the biggest problem, as most of the best Federal Forgiveness Programs require full-time employment. Check out my pages on Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness, and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program to see what sorts of benefits are available to Nurses and Nurse Educators. Maybe you could move to full-time employment and qualify for one of these packages?

      Also – you should qualify for at least one of the excellent Income-Based Federal Student Loan Repayment Plans (like the REPAYE Plan), which will help reduce monthly payments and put you on the slow track to Federal Forgiveness. REPAYE offers complete forgiveness after you’ve made 20 years of qualifying payments, which is definitely better than nothing.

      Finally, the last thing you could try is contacting a private company like the Student Loan Relief Helpline, who offers assistance in lowering monthly payments and applying to forgiveness programs. This company charges for the services they offer, but you could probably get a couple minutes of free advice just by telling them your situation and asking about what options they think would work best. You can reach the Student Loan Relief Helpline here: 1-888-694-8235.

  7. My loans are from before 2005. I tried to make a payment plan of $50 a month, at the time I was a single mom and not making a lot of money. They told me if I sent them $50, they would send it back! That wasn’t enough. I have a creditor that just today called everyone in my family and even called my neighbor that just moved in, who, doesn’t even know me. Is this legal? Is there any help for me? I hate to make any payment as the school I went to lied about credits being able to be transferred to another college. I couldn’t transfer them to anywhere except their sister school!!!

    • Hi Tamara,

      You may be able to take advantage of the Defense Against Repayment Provision – type that phrase into Google and see if you think it’ll apply to your specific case. If the school really did lie about transfer credit eligibility, you may be able to get out of paying back the debt.

      On the creditors part – different states have different laws about what they can and cannot do. Check out the laws in your state to see if that’s legal. It sounds like harassment to me, and I think you may be able to go after them, or at least halt them from doing the same sort of thing again, by making legal threats.

    • Hmmm. Sounds like a familiar situation. The same thing happened to me. At the admissions conference we were told that our credits would transfer to another college. After about a year, I enrolled in a college closer to home only to find out the credits would not transfer. Later on I found out the financial aid advisor was fired due to embezzling students financial aid. A lawyer was investigating the situation and some of the students loans were forgiven. I contacted the lawyer regarding my loan but never heard back from him.
      One can’t win for trying.

      • If you were lied to when enrolling in classes then you may be able to file a Defense Against Repayment Discharge, and have all of your student loans wiped out. Do NOT give up on this if you really were told that your credits would transfer.

  8. Hi thank u for great info… I finally understand most of these new changes/laws… I was recently contacted and paid$600 to have my 2 federal loans consolidated under the IBR plan quoting me a $302 a mo payment vs my current $905 and was told it would be forgiven after 240 months. I had 23 years on the loans and now they’ve consolidated for another 30 year repayment term of $550 a month. They claim I gave them less income than what IRS has even though I read #s off my 1040 return… I’m more concerned that the 240 mo forgiveness won’t apply to me as I read in your page that it’s only for loans taken out after October 2007. My loans were all taken prior to that as I graduated May 2007. Does this mean they totally messed up my life???

    • Hi Sherry,

      You shouldn’t have had to pay anyone to consolidate Federal Student Loans. Anything that they can do, you could have done yourself, for free.

      Also, that company was not honest with you – since your loans were from before 2007, you were not eligible for the 20 year forgiveness program.

      However, even though you were scammed, your life is not ruined, and you are still in a better position than you were in previously (your payment has gone down, and even though your loan term went up, if you paid the same amount each month you’d end up paying the loan off earlier anyway – right?).

      What I would recommend doing is watching Federal law developments closely, because we are supposed to be getting an update to Federal Student Loan Debt Forgiveness laws that would allow everyone, regardless of when their loans were taken out, to qualify for forgiveness after 20 years of payments.

      When that new law goes into place, your IBR-based payments will start counting toward the 240 month threshold, and you’ll be on your way toward receiving forgiveness.

      So, to summarize. You should not have paid someone to consolidate your Federal student loans, and yes, they were lying to you, or at the very least were wrong about what they promised they could do.

      BUT, on the bright side, your life is not “totally messed up”, and you’re in a better situation than you were previously.

  9. Andrea Van Dinther says:

    I am a graduate student with huge debt. We are a low income family, my husband works for the state, and we have three kids. I will graduate next year and am worried sick that more education was not a wise choice, due to debt. Who do I call about finding the right program for us?

    • Hi Andrea,

      There’s really no one to call. You need to read through the options available and find out what you qualify for.

      You could try calling whoever services your loan, as they are legally obligated to inform you of any benefits that you’re eligible to receive, but a lot of the time they simply don’t know, and aren’t able to help.

      It’s time to buckle down and do some research of your own. I would start by looking into the Obama Loan Forgiveness Program, and the Pay As You Earn Student Loan Repayment Plan.

      Maybe consider Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and see if you can find a job that qualifies (this program offers total student loan debt forgiveness after just 10 years of making monthly payments).

  10. Amy Allen says:

    Tim,

    My husband let his loan go to collections and we were checking these out and now know that these companies are scams, who do we call or contact to get the Obama student loan forgiveness program?

    From what I am reading you basically call your loan company and make arrangements or you just pay what you can afford and then after doing this for 25 years how do you apply for loan forgiveness?

    Thanks for any assistance.

    • Hi Amy,

      Is your husband’s loan Federal or Private? If Private, then Obama loan forgiveness benefits won’t help.

      If it’s Federal, then you’ve got to get the loan back out of collections before you’re going to be able to get any assistance with it. When a Federal loan is in default, you basically have no benefits available at all.

  11. how about parent plus loan? I have over $200K parent plus loan that has been in forbearance but is now about to end. My payment will be over $2,000K. What should I do? I won’t be able to afford it. I was hoping my son will be able to help us out but he can’t afford his own student loan either as he does not have a good paying job right now. Please advise. Thanks!

    • Hi Elea,

      I’m sorry, but I’ve got bad news. Parent PLUS Loans aren’t eligible for much at all, unfortunately. I’m not sure why they’ve been left out of the mix, but they basically don’t qualify for any of the other relief programs on offer.

      I would look into Deferment options if I were you, or into the possibility of having the loan discharged by filing for bankruptcy.

      Why did you take out such a huge loan for your son? $200,000 is a ridiculous amount of money to borrow, especially if you didn’t have a solid plan in place for paying it back.

      • Brittany says:

        Tim, how do you know what program (s) this was taken out to pay for?? $200,000 may sound “ridiculous” to you, but try getting a doctorate or PhD from any school in the country. If you can’t afford to pay tuition, that’s what you will owe. It really irks me when people who are in dire straits and looking for options to dig themselves out are met with ignorance and judgments from people who have no idea what the circumstances are. Your statements sound like assumptions that this money was taken out for “fun”. Unfortunately, the advice you DID give is also not very helpful, seeing as discharging in bankruptcy is all but impossible and you can only defer for a short period of time.

        • No one should be borrowing more money for school than they expect they’ll earn during their first year after graduation (except perhaps for Doctors, Lawyers, Engineers, or some other STEM field).

          PhD’s are simply not worth what they used to be (from the strict financial perspective), and investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into a PhD program is almost always a bad idea these days.

          However, I agree that everyone is free to make their own decision about how far into debt they want to go, but when somebody borrows way too much to get over-educated, or educated in a field that isn’t going to allow them to earn enough money to pay back their debt, then they are going to have to learn to live with the consequences.

          I’m all about helping people figure out how to deal with the unique and challenging financial situations that result from excessive student loan debt, but I’m also trying to warn others who may be considering making very poor decisions about their own financial future.

          Sometimes my responses will include a bit of tough love, or harsh realism. I’m doing my best to help people out here though. I apologize if you didn’t find my comment useful to your specific situation and I wish you the best.

  12. I am enrolled (I think) in the IBR plan w salliemae now navient At the rate I am going I will need the full 25 yrs and then some… Can u explain this plan better. I appreciate the monthly payment being affordable but the interest just keeps growing. After 25 yrs of paying will the excess really be “forgiven”

    • Hi Kristen,

      Contact Sallie Mae to ask them which Repayment Plan you’re enrolled in. If you aren’t “sure” about it, then you should make sure because it will have a major impact on getting out of debt.

      The way it works is that no matter how much interest is accumulating, all you have to do is keep making your monthly payments for 25 years, and then your debt will be forgiven.

      So, even if you only originally borrowed $10,000, but you end up owing $50,000 after making 25 years’ worth of monthly payments, that $50,000 debt is written off.

      However, keep in mind that you will have to pay taxes on the amount of money written off, so it’s not like the debt just disappears.

      Also, for additional details – check out my page about the Obama Student Loan Forgiveness Program, and the Pay As You Earn Student Loan Repayment Plan (which you should try to get onto because it’s a better plan than IBR).

      These pages will help flesh out the details of the how Federal Student Loan Forgiveness works.

  13. On the same tangent as Rachel’s inquiry. You mentioned that the private company’s cannot do anything that you cannot do for yourself… but how exactly would I do it myself?

    I have $15,000 in Subsidized loans and I got contacted by one of these company’s who offered me their services, which includes a $500 upfront service fee and $35 monthly fee with zero monthly payments towards my loans. This is opposed to my current $130 payment to my loans…

    Is there a way to do the same for myself i.e. no loan payment or service charge?

    • Hi Rae,

      Sounds like they are looking to take money for you to sign you up for a forbearance or deferment, or to get you signed up on one of the Income-Based Repayment plans (assuming your income is so low that your monthly payment would amount to $0).

      Deferment and forbearance would make your monthly payments $0 for a while, but you’d end up having to pay the loan off eventually anyway, and have wasted the $500 plus $35 monthly on their worthless ‘service’.

      To find out what’s possible, contact your lender (whoever you send your monthly payments to) and tell them you’re interested in getting enrolled on one of the income-based repayment plans.

      See what your monthly payment would amount to, then decide if you should pursue a forbearance or deferment (but remember those are just temporary solutions!).

      Good luck!

  14. I have been paying a Sallie Mae consolidated student loan for what seems like forever, after graduating in 2001. I am trying to start saving money for a middle school child who will be entering college in 4 years. How does the Obama Student Loan Forgiveness Loan Program work and do victims of Hurricane Sandy have any relief?

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