How to Qualify for the Best Student Loan Debt Relief Programs
In 2019, the Federal Government offers a huge variety of programs created to provide student loan debt relief benefits to those struggling with their college debt.
If you’re having trouble making your monthly payments, then the good news is that it’s highly likely you’ll qualify for at least one (if not more) of the many student loan relief 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 enrolled in a student loan forgiveness program, discharge your loans entirely, use a deferment or forbearance to put your loans on hold for a bit or consolidate your loans to reduce your monthly payments, you’re come to the right place!
This Guide to Federal Student Debt Relief goes through each of the available Federal financial assistance programs in detail, explaining what benefits they offer, who qualifies for them, and how to apply for them in a way that will increase the chances that you’re accepted into the program.
Quick Links for Easy Navigation
To help you navigate through this Guide as quickly as possible, please feel free to use the list of links below to skip to the specific section that’s most relevant to you:
- Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
- Student Loan Discharge Programs
- Student Loan Consolidation Programs
- Student Loan Delinquency Programs
- Student Loan Default Programs
- Student Loan Deferment Programs
- Student Loan Forbearance Programs
- Student Loan Repayment Plans
After reviewing this Guide’s content, if you have any questions about how any of these programs work, if you’re confused about which work best for you, or if you have any other questions about student loan debt, then please feel free to ask them in the Comments section at the very bottom of this page.
One thing to keep in mind while reviewing this Guide is that it’s created for people with Federal Student Loan Debt, and won’t help with Private loans.
If you have Private debt, then please visit my Guide on Private Student Loan Debt Relief instead.
Get Help With Your Loans!If you're truly struggling with student loan debt, then you should consider paying a Student Loan Debt Relief Agency for help. Why? Because the people working at these companies deal with student loans all day, every day, and they're your best chance at figuring out how to get your loans back under control.
For help with Federal Student Loans call the Student Loan Relief Helpline at 1-888-906-3065. They will review your case, evaluate your options for switching repayment plans, consolidating your loans, or pursuing forgiveness benefits, then set you up to get rid of the debt as quickly as possible.
For help with Private Student Loans call McCarthy Law PLC at 1-877-317-0455. McCarthy Law will negotiate with your lender to settle your private loans for much less than you currently owe (typically 40%), then get you a new loan for the lower, settled amount so you can pay off the old loan, repair your credit and reduce your monthly payments.
I've spent 10 years interviewing debt relief agencies, talking to all sorts of "experts", and these are the only two companies that I trust to help my readers. If you have a bad experience with either of them, please make sure to come back and let me know about it in the Comments!
Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
There’s literally never been a better time to be shopping for Federal Student Loan Forgiveness, because the suite of programs currently available is more powerful, more comprehensive and easier to qualify for than ever before.
Almost everybody who’s ever borrowed money for school from the Federal Government will be able to qualify for some sort of forgiveness program, and that’s especially true if you’re willing to consider a career change, because most of these benefits packages are based on your job.
Whether you owe a few thousand dollars, or several hundred thousand dollars, Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Programs can help you wipe that debt out in no time at all, eliminating your loans, in some cases, without requiring you to pay another penny!
Please see the links below for a list of the best Federal forgiveness programs currently on offer, and be sure to click through the links within each section to reach my Comprehensive Guides on each of these fantastic federal relief packages:
- President Obama’s Student Loan Forgiveness Program
- President Trump’s Student Loan Forgiveness Program
- The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
- Federal, State & Local Government Employee Loan Forgiveness Programs
- The Non-Profit Employee Student Loan Forgiveness Program
- Military Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
- Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
- Doctors & Dentists Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
- Teacher Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
- State-Based Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
President Obama’s Student Loan Forgiveness Program
President Obama’s Student Loan Forgiveness Program was created to significantly expand the number of people eligible for Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Benefits, and to offer those benefits at a much faster rate than they’d ever been provided before.
Obama Loan Forgiveness is not the real name of any particular benefit program, but a collection of updates he introduced to student loan laws, including several new Federal Student Loan Repayment Plans, each of which offer the opportunity to qualify for Federal forgiveness benefits.
Known as the “Income-Based” Repayment Plans, the Pay As You Earn Student Loan Repayment Plan (PAYE) and Revised Pay As You Earn Student Loan Repayment Plan (REPAYE) are most borrower’s best options for reducing their monthly payments as much as possible without ruining their access to Federal loan forgiveness benefits.
If you’re looking to utilize the powerful Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which I explain in detail below, then you’ll have to enroll in an Income-Based Student Loan Repayment Plan, and PAYE and REPAYE are two excellent options that we only have access to because of President Obama and “Obama Loan Forgiveness” reforms.
For full details on how this works, please visit my Guide to President Obama’s Student Loan Forgiveness Program.
President Trump’s Student Loan Forgiveness Program
While the country may be divided on whether or not President Trump has done a good job leading our nation, one thing is abundantly clear: while a candidate, he offered some excellent student loan reforms that would have taken Obama Loan Forgiveness and made it even better.
At the time of this writing, Trump has failed to live up to his promises on the student loan reform front, and instead of offering Federal forgiveness benefits to literally every single borrower, and reducing the amount of time required to earn those benefits from 20 years to just 15 years, he’s done absolutely nothing to change the sad state of affairs we’re currently facing.
Like him or loathe him, he does have the potential to fix the student loan crisis, and we should all be pulling for him to make the right decision and start living up to the promises he offered on the campaign trail.
For full details on his proposals, how they’d improve Federal loan relief options, and how they may impact you personally if ever instituted into law, please visit my Guide to President Trump’s Student Loan Forgiveness Program.
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
There’s no more powerful Federal loan relief program than the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, or PSLF for short, which offers complete student loan forgiveness in return for 10 years of public service.
What’s public service? Fortunately, the definition is pretty loose, and any job working as a Federal Employee, in State or Local Government, or as a Non-Profit 501(c)(3) employee will qualify you for PSLF benefits.
That includes all sorts of jobs that you may not consider as “Public Service”, including many jobs in Public Safety, Law Enforcement, Emergency Management, Public Health Services, Public Education and other School-based Services, Public Interest Law Services, Early Childhood Education and Military Service.
If I were still buried in excessive Federal debt, I’d be looking to change careers and get into a role that qualifies for PSLF; that’s how powerful this program is, and why I recommend it to virtually everyone who asks me about student loans.
One trick to qualifying for PSLF is that you have to be enrolled in an Income-Based Repayment Plan while making your monthly student loan payments, so if you’re trying to utilize PSLF, make sure that you’re issuing payments under one of those Income-Based Plans.
For full details on how PSLF works, please visit my Guide to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
Federal, State & Local Government Employee Loan Forgiveness Programs
Commonly referred to as the Federal Employee or Government Worker Student Loan Forgiveness Program, this benefit is actually no different from Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF).
As I already outlined in the section above, PSLF offers completely Federal loan forgiveness after serving in a qualifying Public Service role and making 10 years worth of full, on-time monthly payments under on of the Income-Based Federal Student Loan Repayment Plans.
The best thing about the Government Employee Loan Forgiveness Program is that it’s available to EVERYONE who works for ANY sort of Government, at any level, including the President himself, everyone in the Military, and all Federal, State or Local Government Employees.
What this means is that even if you don’t currently qualify for PSLF, all you need to do to eliminate your student loans is find a qualifying job, get enrolled in one of the Income-Based Repayment Plans, and hang tight for 10 years while making your payments on-time and in-full, then your remaining debt will be forgiven.
And perhaps the best part about PSLF forgiveness is that it doesn’t matter how much you owe; if you’ve got $20,000 or $2,000,000 in debt, it’ll be wiped out entirely as soon as you make that 120th monthly payment (10 years worth), but even better – you also won’t have to pay taxes on any of the forgiveness you receive!
For full details on this program, please visit my Guide to Student Loan Forgiveness for Federal Employees, State & Local Government Workers.
The Non-Profit Employee Student Loan Forgiveness Program
Non-Profit 501(c)(3) employees have access to the same incredible benefits offered to Government Employees; the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF).
In return for 10 years of full-time work at a qualifying Non-Profit 501(c)(3), you can earn complete Federal loan forgiveness benefits.
These benefits are released at the time you make your 120th “qualifying payment”, and by “qualifying payment”, I mean payments that were made in-full and on-time while you were enrolled in an Income-Based Repayment Plan, and working full-time at a non-profit company or organization.
And these benefits are incredibly powerful, because one of the best things about Non-Profit Loan Forgiveness is that it offers total forgiveness without generating a huge bill from the IRS.
What do I mean by that? Most student loan forgiveness programs on offer allow you to wipe out your debt to the Federal Government, but require you to report the amount of money discharged as “Taxable Income” to the IRS, meaning that they’ll collect income taxes on however much debt you got forgiveness from.
For full details on hos this program works, please visit my Guide to Student Loan Forgiveness for Non-Profit Employees.
Military Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
Military Personnel have access to some of the best, most powerful Federal student loan relief packages on offer, including the Public Service Loan Forgiveneess Program (PSLF), as well as a variety of programs only available to Service Members, like the Military College Loan Repayment Program (CLRP).
Benefits are determined by MOS and Service Branch, but generally the Army and Navy have the best packages on offer, though the Air Force, Coast Guard and even the Marines typically offer something to their Service Personnel as well.
Military Forgiveness Benefits change all the time, depending on the need for new recruits, so be sure you’ve looking at the latest information when determining what’s available to you, and don’t make decisions based on old data!
For full details on how forgiveness works for Service Personnel, be sure to look at my Guide on Student Loan Forgiveness for Military Personnel.
In addition to powerful loan forgiveness benefits, Service Personnel also have access to a ton of different Military Education Benefits, and I’ve developed full Guides on each of the programs on offer, including:
- The Forever GI Bill
- The Post 9/11 GI Bill
- The Yellow Ribbon Program
- GI Bill Benefits Transfers
- Basic Allowance for Housing
- Military Tuition Assistance
- Military Spouse Education Benefits
Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
Some of the best Federal relief benefits are offered to Nurses, who definitely work hard, play a huge role in providing a valuable service to society, and in my opinion, deserve as much as we can possibly provide them with!
There’s a pretty wide assortment of programs that offer financial relief to Nurses, including excellent forgiveness programs for Nurses working in Health Professional Shortage Areas, as Nurse Educators, and in other specific high-need roles.
I’ve created Guides for each of the Nursing Forgiveness Programs currently on offer, including:
- The NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program
- Perkins Loan Forgiveness for Nurses & Licensed Medical Technicians
- The NHSC NURSE Corps Scholarship Program
- The NHSC Loan Repayment Program
- State-Funded Nursing Student Forgiveness Programs
- Privately-Funded Nursing Loan Forgiveness Programs
To get an overview on all of the excellent Federal loan relief programs available to Nurses, please check out my comprehensive Guide to Student Loan Forgiveness Programs for Nurses.
Doctors & Dentists Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
Doctors and Dentists have access to some excellent Federal student loan relief benefits via the NHSC Students to Service Loan Repayment Program, often abbreviated as S2S LRP.
S2S LRP was created to incentivze Doctors and Dentists to live and work in locations that don’t have enough Doctors or Dentists, referred to as Health Professional Shortage Area, which tend to be either rural areas, or inner cities.
And while jobs in those locations may not sound all that appealing, especially when you could probably make more in the suburbs, the S2S LRP does offer up to $120,000 in total student loan forgiveness benefits, which is a substantial amount of money, and worthy of your consideration.
For full details on how this program works, check out my Guide to the NHSC Students to Service Loan Repayment Program for Doctors & Dentists.
Teacher Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
We can probably all agree that Teachers are underpaid, and underappreciated, but on the Federal student loan relief front, they’ve at least got something to celebrate: when it comes to access of Federal student loan forgiveness benefits, almost nobody has it better than Teachers!
With several different programs currently on offer, Teachers in a variety of roles and positions, but especially those teaching in STEM, Special Needs, or in areas with Teacher Shortages, can qualify for up to tens of thousands of dollars in Federal financial relief.
Some of the best programs currently available to Teachers include:
- The Stafford Loan Forgiveness Program
- The Perkins Loan Cancellation Program
- The Federal TEACH Grant Program
- The HRSA’s Healthcare Faculty Loan Repayment Program
For full details on all of the benefits offered to Teachers, please visit my Guide to Teacher Student Loan Forgiveness Programs.
Some Teachers will also qualify for the excellent Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, so if you’re teaching and need help reducing your Federal debt, you’ll certainly want to look into that one as well! Find my Guide on PSLF here.
State-Based Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
Many States offer Federal student loan relief programs of their own, and typically the benefits are provided based on the borrower’s career, with Nurses, Doctors, Lawyers and Public Service Workers tending to receive the lions share of the attention.
You never really know what’s on offer until you check, and while these benefits programs can change at a moments notice (especially in states where they’re having funding and budget problems), it’s certainly worth looking into what’s available in your state, as well as across the country.
I’ve developed an entire section of my site dedicated to State-Based Federal relief benefits, and I highly advise that you take a look to see what you may be able to qualify for.
For full details on how these programs work, please look at my Guide to State-Based Student Loan Forgiveness Benefits.
Federal Student Loan Discharge Programs
Before I explain each Discharge program offered in detail, let me first walk you through the differences between Student Loan Forgiveness and Student Loan Discharges.
Both Forgiveness and Discharge Programs are going to help by wiping out your student debt, sometimes in full, sometimes as a percentage of the total amount you owe, but where the difference lies is typically that Forgiveness Programs will take some time to qualify for, while Discharge Programs are basically immediate.
Because Discharge Programs let you wipe out your loans in an instant, they tend to be harder to qualify for, and they’re also going to universally require that you report whatever amount of money you got discharged to the IRS, which you’ll then have to pay income taxes against.
That may sound scary, but remember, even if earning a student loan discharge leads to having to pay a little bit of money to the IRS, it’s probably a much better option than owing a ton of money to one of the notorious student loan servicing companies.
Here’s a breakdown of the best Federal Student Loan Discharge Programs currently on offer:
- The Borrower’s Defense Against Repayment Program
- The Federal Student Loan Bankruptcy Discharge Program
- The Closed School Student Loan Discharge Program
- The Total & Permanent Disability Discharge Program
My suggestion is to review each of the Federal Discharge programs on offer, see if you think you can qualify for any of them, then determine which one has the highest chance of successfully wiping out your debt before actually applying to any of them.
In fact, once you’ve figured out which ones you think you have access to, feel free to ask in the Comments below and I’ll give you my own thoughts on whether or not it sounds like you’ll be able to qualify for the Discharge!
The Borrower’s Defense Against Repayment Program
The Borrower’s Defense Against Repayment Program, also commonly called the Borrower’s Defense to Repayment Program, or simply BDAR, is my single favorite Federal student loan relief program in existence.
Why? Because it was created to help borrowers who’ve been scammed, defrauded, lied to, or had some other kind of fraud committed against them by corrupt Schools and Student Loan Servicing Companies.
BDAR allows you to request that the Department of Education review the illegal activity committed against you and determine that if the behavior was egregious enough, that your loan should be immediately and fully discharged, letting you walk away from the debt!
The trick to qualifying for a BDAR Discharge is that you have to convince the DOE reviewer that the illegal activity was the sole reason you agreed to borrow money to attend your school, or the sole reason why your loans fell into delinquency and default, and that’s not an easy process.
For full details on the program works, and for information about how to write a compelling BDAR Application, please visit my Guide to the Borrower’s Defense Against Repayment Program.
You might also want to visit my individual Guides on Specific Schools, and Student Loan Servicing Companies, where I review the lawsuits these organizations face, talk about what they’ve been accused of doing wrong, and explain how you can use the details of those lawsuits to increase the chances of getting your BDAR Application approved.
You’ll find my Guides on the Lawsuits & BDAR Discharges for Specific Schools here:
- University of Phoenix Lawsuits & Loan Forgiveness
- The Art Institute Lawsuits & Loan Forgiveness Program
- The DeVry Lawsuits & Loan Forgiveness Program
- The Westwood College Lawsuit & Loan Forgiveness Program
- The Walden University Lawsuit & Loan Forgiveness Program
- The Capella University Lawsuit & Loan Forgiveness Program
- The Full Sail University Student Loan Forgiveness Program
- The ITT Tech Lawsuit & Student Loan Forgiveness Program
- The Corinthian Colleges Lawsuits & Loan Forgiveness Program
- The Everest College Lawsuit & Loan Forgiveness Program
- The Heald College Lawsuit & Loan Forgiveness Program
- The WyoTech Lawsuit & Loan Forgiveness Program
- The Le Cordon Bleu Lawsuit & Loan Forgiveness Program
- The Kaplan University Lawsuit & Loan Forgiveness Program
- The Anthem College Lawsuit & Loan Forgiveness Program
- The Brown Mackie College Lawsuit & Loan Forgiveness Program
- The AmericanIntercontinental University Lawsuit & Loan Forgiveness Program
- The Colorado Technical University Lawsuit & Loan Forgiveness Program
You’ll find my Guides on the Lawsuits & BDAR Discharges for Specific Student Loan Servicing Companies here:
- The Navient Lawsuits & Student Loan Forgiveness Program
- The Career Education Corporation Lawsuits & Loan Forgiveness Program
- The FedLoan Lawsuit & Student Loan Forgiveness Program
- The Great Lakes Lawsuits & Loan Forgiveness Program
- The National Collegiate Lawsuit & Loan Forgiveness Program
If I were buried in Federal student loans, the BDAR Program is one of the first places I’d look for effective, and immediate Federal debt relief.
Personally, my strategy for eliminating the debt would be to make sure that I get employed at a job which qualifies for PSLF, enrolled in a repayment plan that counts for PSLF, then start pursuing a BDAR Discharge against the school if I felt like I had been defrauded in the process of deciding to go there.
One thing to keep in mind about Borrower’s Defense Discharges is that these are a legal process that you do NOT want to lie about!
There could be HUGE repercussions for making things up on your BDAR application, or even for stretching the truth, exaggerating, etc., so please, please please, do NOT ruin BDAR’s availability for those who need it by taking advantage of the system and attempting to lie or twist the truth.
Do NOT make things up about the school or servicing company, otherwise this program will get pulled from existence and nobody will be able to use it anymore.
The Federal Student Loan Bankruptcy Discharge Program
While it’s still extremely difficult to qualify for a Federal Student Loan Bankruptcy Discharge, the good news is that it’s easier than it ever has been before, and getting even easier every year.
Why? Because a series of recent court cases have begun setting precedents for including Federal student loan debt in the package of debt forgiven via Bankruptcy proceedings, and we’ve got several recent, telling cases where people successfully discharged their Federal loans.
There’s even been signs from President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who generally hate student loan relief programs, and who have tried to kill both PSLF and BDAR in the past, that they want to reevaluate the way Federal bankruptcies work, and perhaps start including Federal student loan debt as a component of the debt you can discharge by default!
The sad news is that things are moving slowly in this case, and that this is one of the only areas where it’s actually easier to get rid of Private student debt than Federal debt (Private loans are much, much easier to discharge in Bankruptcy, for whatever reason).
For the full details on how Federal bankruptcies work, please visit my Guide to Discharging Federal Student Loan Debt by Filing for Bankruptcy.
The Closed School Student Loan Discharge Program
The Closed School Loan Discharge Program is one of the best ways to eliminate debt left over from a school that shut down before you could finish your program.
Unfortunately, what that means is that this will only apply to a small percentage of borrowers – those borrowers who were still attending courses at the time the school closed, or within 120 days of the closure.
The good news is that Closed School Discharges are one of the only Federal relief programs that Betsy DeVos and President Trump have not attacked, and that they’re still being reviewed and approved in a relatively timely fashion, whereas PSLF and BDAR approvals are taking forever to get approved.
If you attended a school that shut down before you were able to finish your program, you’ll definitely have a good shot at getting the Discharge approved, and you should certainly visit my Guide to the Closed School Loan Discharge Program.
The Total & Permanent Disability Discharge Program
The Total & Permanent Disability Discharge Program offers immediate, complete relief from Federal student loans to anyone who wasn’t able to pay off their debt before they became totally and permanently disabled.
This program works for all sorts of Federal Loans, including:
- William D. Ford Federal Direct Loans (“Direct Loans”)
- Federal Family Education Loans (“FFEL Loans”)
- Federal Perkins Loans
- Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grants (“TEACH Grants”)
There’s no more important Federal student loan relief program in existence, as obviously, anyone who is buried in student loan debt, but cannot work, doesn’t deserve to continue having to face the burden of making monthly payments any longer.
Even though I’m pretty conservative when it comes to my fiscal political outlook, I am 100% behind the existence of this program, and highly recommend that you take advantage of it if you should qualify for the benefit.
For full details on TPD Discharges, please visit the Federal Government’s official website on the Program at https://www.disabilitydischarge.com.
NOTE: Do NOT pay anyone to help you with a Disability Discharge! This is the single-most straightforward sort of forgiveness or discharge program around, and one that you can handle entirely on your own even if you have trouble understanding the requirements and application processes for the other Federal relief programs.
Anyone who tries to charge you for assistance with a TPD Discharge is highly immoral, and potentially a scammer. Do NOT give them your personal information!
Federal Student Loan Consolidation & Refinancing Programs
While there’s still no official program for Refinancing Federal Student Loans, you can get a new rate and often reduce monthly payments by turning several Federal loans into a single Federal Direct Consolidation Loan.
The thing to keep in mind is that Direct Consolidation Loans aren’t always a good idea, and only make sense for certain borrowers facing certain situations.
Why do I say that? Because Federal Consolidation can destroy your eligibility for powerful Federal relief programs, like the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, or Teacher Loan Forgiveness benefits, especially if you’re consolidating several different types of Federal loans.
Honestly, I would not consolidate your loans without doing a tremendous amount of research, and checking your plan across an absolute expert in student debt, like a CPA or Attorney who specifically specializes in handling student debt.
Do NOT consolidate your debt on a whim, simply because it’ll reduce your monthly payments, or save you the convenience of having to issue several checks each month, because again, the repercussions for making a mistake here can be massive.
For details on how the consolidation process works, advice on who should and should not consolidate, see my Guide on the Federal Direct Loan Consolidation Program.
Federal Student Loan Delinquency Assistance
Many borrowers find themselves facing Delinquency at some point in the lifespan of their loan, as a loan is placed into Delinquency as soon as you miss a single payment.
On the bright side, delinquency typically doesn’t lead to any major negative repercussions as long as you deal with the Delinquent payments quickly (within 15 days).
When your loans are moved into delinquency, your Student Loan Servicing Company will start issuing notices, warnings, etc., talking about what you need to do in order to prevent fines, fees and penalties from accumulating, and the trick here is that you need to get in touch with them right away to start doing whatever it is that they’re asking you to do.
Typically, that means paying whatever amount you owed, and promising that it won’t happen again.
For the full details on how delinquencies work, and for 5 great suggestions on dealing with them, please visit my Guide to Federal Student Loan Delinquency.
Federal Student Loan Default Relief
If your Federal student loans are moved into default status, then I’ve got some bad news: you’re about to get hit with a whirlwind of fines, fees and penalties, and you may even face some major financial repercussions, like lawsuits, tax offsets, and a seemingly endless stream of harassment from debt collectors.
You DO NOT want to let your Federal student loans default, no matter what you may think is a good reason for allowing it to happen, so please, don’t believe anyone who tells you that default is a good option for dealing with your debt.
Instead, please get the truth about how Defaults work, and how to deal with them, by reviewing my Guides on:
- Rehabilitating a Defaulted Federal Student Loan
- Preventing or Stopping a Federal Student Loan Wage Garnishment
Again, don’t let your loans go into default, no matter what!
If you neglect this advice, you’re going to wish you could turn back time later, because dealing with a default is just about the worst thing that you’ll ever have to do.
Federal Student Loan Deferment Programs
If you’re struggling to make your monthly payments on time, then you may want to look into the Federal Student Loan Deferment Programs on offer, because they allow you to effectively put your loans on pause.
What does pausing a loan do? It means that you’ll get a break from having to issue monthly payments, so you can get your finances in order and start saving up some funds instead of spending every penny you make on student debt.
Why doesn’t everyone just sign up for deferments and ignore their loans? Because there are downsides to deferments, especially for unsubsidized student loans, in that interest can accumulate while your loans are set on pause, and this can lead to owing much more money over the lifespan of your loan.
Deferments are slightly risky business, and should not be entered into unless you’ve researched all of your available options, determined the consequences of filing for a deferment, and determined that it truly is the best strategy for handling your loans, so please make sure to perform due diligence in researching this option before signing the dotted line.
Federal loan deferments are offered for a variety of reasons – and you do need a reason to enter into deferment, so the first part of the process for starting one is to determine which specific deferment program will work for you.
Get the full details on what types of deferments are available, how they work, and whether or not they may be a good idea for you by visiting my Guide to Federal Student Loan Deferments.
Federal Student Loan Forbearance Programs
Forbearances are a great way to get some breathing room from your student debt, as they allow you to put monthly payments on pause for a set period of time.
Working really similarly to Deferments, Forbearances have one huge advantage: they don’t allow your loans to accumulate interest, so you don’t have to worry about coming back after a Forbearance to a debt that has a ballooned in size.
Like Deferments, there are several different types of Forbearances, and you’ll need to review them to find out which one or ones may work best for you before applying to get one put in place.
To get the full details on how they work, what types are available, and whether or not you should consider applying for one, please visit my Guide to Federal Student Loan Forbearance Programs.
Federal Student Loan Repayment Plans
One of the best things about owing money on a Federal student loan as opposed to a Private loan is that the Federal Government offers you the choice of selecting how you’re going to pay the debt back.
In fact, you’ve got quite a bit of flexibility when it comes to choosing how you want to pay off Federal loans, in that you can opt for a plan that pays your loan off quickly over 10 years via high monthly payments, like the Standard Repayment Plan, or a much longer, income-based repayment plan like the Pay As You Earn Plan.
This variety and flexibility can be a life saver for anyone struggling to meet their monthly payments, and this is the first place I’d turn to getting Federal student loan relief if I were having trouble dealing with my debt, because it’s one of the fastest, easiest ways to change the amount you’re paying on a monthly basis.
Keep in mind that the Income-Based Student Loan Repayment Plans are especially powerful tools for reducing your monthly payments, and that they can be leveraged in combination with a Forgiveness program like the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program to allow you to eliminate your student loans without paying a single penny.
How? PSLF requires you to make 10 years worth of full, on-time, scheduled monthly payments, and requires that those payments are made under one of the Income-Based Payment Plans, but it doesn’t stipulate that those payments have to be for any minimum amount, and some of the IBR plans allow you to qualify for a $0 monthly payment, as long as your income is low enough.
That may sound like some sort of scam, but it’s an incredibly powerful loophole that you just might want to look into, because it could mean the difference of being buried in Federal debt forever, and wiping out your loans without having to spend a single cent!
For the full details on each payment plan, which payment plans are best for certain circumstances, and suggestions on how to choose the right payment plan for you, please visit my Guide on Federal Student Loan Repayment Plans.
Where Can I Go For Other Questions About Student Loans?
Hopefully this Guide has already provided you with at least a couple ideas on getting Federal student loan debt relief, but if you have other questions about dealing with your loans, then you’ll certainly want to check out the other pages of my site.
For Federal Student Loan Relief, please visit my Guides on:
- Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Benefits
- Federal Student Loan Bankruptcy Discharges
- Federal Student Loan Consolidation Options
- Federal Student Loan Delinquencies
- Federal Student Loan Default Rehabilitation
- Stopping a Federal Student Loan Wage Garnishment
- Federal Student Loan Deferment Programs
- Federal Student Loan Forbearance Programs
- Federal Student Loan Repayment Plans
And if you need Help with Private Student Loans, then you will certainly want to visit my Guides on:
- Private Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
- Private Student Loan Consolidation Options
- Private Student Loan Bankruptcy Discharges
- Private Student Loan Default Help
For any other questions about student loans and student loan debt, please do feel free to ask in the Comments section below, as I review these on a daily basis, and will do my best to get you a response within 24 hours of posting.
I use a variety of sources to aggregate this website’s information about student loan debt, most of which are pages operated and maintained by the Federal Government’s Official Student Aid website, including:
- The Official Federal Student Aid Website – https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/
- Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Programs – https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation
- Federal Student Loan Discharges & Cancellation Programs – https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation
- The Direct Consolidation Loan Program – https://studentloans.gov/myDirectLoan/launchConsolidation.action
- Understanding Delinquency & Default – https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/default
- Student Loan Deferment & Forbearance – https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/deferment-forbearance
- Federal Student Loan Repayment Plans – https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/understand/plans
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