How to Get Forgiveness for Federal Student Loan Debt
UPDATED Tuesday March 24th, 2020
There has literally never been a better time to pursue Federal student loan forgiveness benefits, because we’ve never had so much access to so many different types of programs offering effective relief from Federal student debt.
Some of the best Federal forgiveness benefits programs around today include the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which offers complete forgiveness benefits to Non Profit Employees, and Government Employees, and is certainly the most powerful, fastest, and best student loan forgiveness program on offer.
But even if you don’t qualify for PSLF benefits, the good news is that there are a whole host of other excellent options for getting rid of your Federal loans based on your job, with programs like the many Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness Programs, multiple Teacher Student Loan Forgiveness Programs, the Debt Forgiveness Program for Doctors & Dentists and a variety of Military Student Loan Forgiveness Programs as well!
It honestly doesn’t even really matter where you went to school, how much you owe, or what you’re currently doing for work, because the good news about these programs is that even if you don’t qualify for them at the moment, you may be able to qualify if you make a job or career change.
In this Guide, I’ll explain how to qualify for each of these programs, giving you the details you need to determine which one will work best for you and explaining how to apply for the benefit. If you have questions after reading through this Guide, please feel free to post them in the Comments section below and I’ll do my best to get you a detailed response within 24 hours!
Do YOU Qualify for Federal Loan Forgiveness Benefits?
Virtually everyone who’s ever taken out a Federal student loan will qualify for some amount of forgiveness via one of the many programs on offer, programs which typically hinge on your job, and which offer benefits based on how valuable your job has been deemed to be to society.
But the list of forgiveness programs I posted above is just a highlight of some of the largest and best forgiveness programs on offer, so if you don’t work in one of the fields mentioned above, don’t give up quite yet!
Whether you owe a few thousand dollars, or hundreds of thousands of dollars, there’s bound to be a program that can help you personally, so be sure to read through this entire page, then visit the other pages of my site for additional details on how to gain access to these tremendous Federal forgiveness benefits.
But Before I Explain All the Details of Federal Forgiveness…
Let me offer you a quick word of advice – most of the forgiveness benefits currently on offer can take years to deliver real relief, so they may not be your best option for dealing with student debt if you’re experiencing a financial crisis right now.If you're truly struggling with student debt, then you should also 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.
I've interviewed all sorts of debt relief agencies over the past 10 years, talking to all sorts of so-called "experts", and I can tell you that in all honesty I've only found two companies I trust to offer actual financial relief to people struggling with student loans.
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. They will negotiate with your lender to settle your private loans for much less than you owe, then get you a new loan for the much lower, settled amount. NOTE: McCarthy Law can ONLY help with Private student loans.
If you do decide to call one of these companies and you have a bad experience with either of them, PLEASE make sure to come back and let me know about it in the Comments!
2020’s Best Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Benefits Programs
Currently, the Federal Government offers significant loan forgiveness benefits to anyone who:
- First borrowed on or after October 1st, 2007 (via the Obama Loan Forgiveness Program and the Pay As You Earn Student Loan Repayment Plan)
- Is willing to enroll in one of the Income-Based Based Federal Student Loan Repayment Plans, like the Income-Based Repayment Plan, Income-Contingent Repayment Plan or REPAYE Student Loan Repayment Plan)
- Works in Public Service (via the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program)
- Works as a Nurse (via PSLF, the Nurse Corps Loan Forgiveness Program, or the Perkins Loan Forgiveness for Licensed Medical Technicians Program)
- Works as a Doctor or Dentist (via the NHSC Students to Service Loan Repayment Program)
- Works as a Teacher (via PSLF, Federal TEACH Grants, Perkins Loan Forgiveness & Stafford Loan Forgiveness Programs)
- Works for the Government (via the Government Employee Loan Forgiveness Program)
- Works at a Non-Profit (via Non-Profit Student Loan Forgiveness Program)
- Serves in the Military (via a suite of Military Student Loan Forgiveness Programs)
- Serves in the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps (via the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program)
- Is permanently disabled (via the Total and Permanent Disability Discharge Program)
- Holds debt from a school that closed before they could finish (via the Closed School Discharge Program)
- Can prove that they were lied to, promised something they did not receive, deceived or legally taken advantage of in some way (via the Borrower’s Defense Against Repayment Program)
As you can see, there are all sorts of options for pursuing Federal student loan forgiveness, and the hard part isn’t qualifying for one of these programs, but deciding which one of the programs will work best for you.
Again, this is where the Student Loan Relief Helpline can come in, and this is why I highly recommend that you call them for help. To reach the Helpline, call 1-888-906-3065.
1. Obama Loan Forgiveness (via PAYE) – for Recent Borrowers
Anyone who first took out Federal student loans after October 1st, 2007 is eligible for the benefits enacted in what’s been called the Obama Student Loan Forgiveness Program.
Originally announced in October of 2001, President Obama promised to initiate major reforms to Federal student loan debt laws, including a massive overhaul of the existing Federal forgiveness programs, and the introduction of a brand new, much more lucrative Federal student loan repayment plan, called Pay As You earn.
When people refer to Obama Loan Forgiveness, they’re actually talking about this suite of reforms that were put into law over the past couple years, including:
- The Know Before You Owe Initiative – To ensure that graduates aren’t saddled with excessive monthly payments that would surely put them in the bread line, President Obama committed to offering them the ability to cap monthly student loan payments at just 10% of discretionary income, a move that would save some borrowers hundreds to thousands of dollars per month
- Introduction of the Pay As You Earn Student Loan Repayment Plan – This new Income-Based Federal Student Loan Repayment Plan limits monthly payments to just 10% of discretionary income, and offers complete loan forgiveness once borrowers have made 20 years worth of monthly payments, regardless of how much they still owe
- Updates to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program – While previous law stipulated that PSLF loan forgiveness could be earned by making 20 years worth of payments, President Obama’s update now offers eligible participants to discharge their entire remaining student loan debt after making payments on it for just 10 years
There is a major caveat to President Obama’s updates, however, in that the extremely popular Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan is still currently only available to those borrowers who first received Federally-funded student loans on or after October 1st, 2007.
Fortunately, the President later expanded availability of the Obama Student Loan Debt Reforms to all borrowers, and now anyone with Federal Student Loan Debt can enroll in the REPAYE Student Loan Repayment Plan, which offers similar benefits to Pay As You Earn.
2. Income-Based Repayment Plans Forgiveness (REPAYE)
As mentioned above, the Obama loan forgiveness benefits offered under PAYE were expanded and made available to everyone via the introduction of the REPAYE Program, which allows everybody with Federal student loans to start working toward earning forgiveness benefits.
The way that REPAYE works is that you have to agree to make monthly student loan payments in an amount based on your annual income (the more you make, the more you pay), and after you’ve made 240 payments on time, and in full, you’ll be offered complete forgiveness on whatever amount of money you still owe.
This plan is an excellent option (and the only option) for people who don’t qualify for any of the other forgiveness benefits offered below, but the biggest downside to it is that you WILL OWE TAXES to the IRS on whatever amount of debt you get forgiven.
For details on how that works, see the section below titled Federal Forgiveness Benefits and Taxable Income Laws, or visit my page on the same topic, here.
3. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
Abbreviated PSLF, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program is simply the best federal forgiveness benefit available, because it offers 100% forgiveness, no tax liabilities, and it’s open to anyone who serves in a field that counts as “Public Service”, which is a pretty loose definition.
PSLF offers complete Federal student loan forgiveness once you’ve made 10 years (120) monthly payments on your debt, which means it’s twice as fast as the standard Obama loan forgiveness plans (PAYE and REPAYE).
Also, there’s no cap on the amount forgiven, so no matter how much you still owe, and no matter how much you’ve actually paid, this program will wipe out whatever amount you still owe once you’ve made those 120 monthly payments in full, and on time.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness benefits are available to anyone who works full time in one of the following positions:
- Government Employees (State, Federal, Local, etc.)
- Non-Profit Organizations, including all 501(c)(3) Organizations
- Teachers (at public schools)
- Military personnel (all branches, including Reservists)
- Emergency management personnel (FEMA, etc.)
- Public safety and law enforcement personnel (Police, Firefighters, Park Rangers, etc.)
- Public health services workers (Doctors, Nurses, Medical Records people, etc.)
- Public interest law services (Lawyers, Attorneys, Paralegals, etc.)
- Early childhood education workers (Daycare and Preschool teachers, etc.)
- Public service workers for individuals with disabilities (Social Workers, Speech Therapists, Psychologists, Counselors, etc.)
- Public service workers for the elderly (Home Health Aids, Nursing Home Personnel, etc.)
- Public service volunteers (Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, etc.)
As you can see, that’s a pretty long list of eligible candidates. There are literally millions of people who qualify for PSLF benefits, many of whom aren’t even aware of it!
PSLF is especially valuable to people who took out massive student loans to go to school (like Doctors, Dentists, and Lawyers), but who graduate into jobs that aren’t paying them much each month, like for those healthcare personnel that choose to work in the public sector.
One of the downsides to PSLF is that it’s an all-or-nothing benefit, meaning that you don’t get incremental forgiveness, and that it will take 10 years of consistently working in an eligible position and making monthly payments to receive any forgiveness at all.
For full details on how PSLF works, please visit my page about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, here.
4. Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
Nurses have access to some of the best forgiveness benefits available, via the Federal Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness Programs that have been in place for several years now.
In fact, the Federal Government continues to offer at least three different avenues for Nursing loan forgiveness, including:
- The NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program (NHSC) – This program was previously called the Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program (NELRP), and was created to help encourage RN’s to work in underserved hospitals and clinics, by offering them the chance to write off some of their student loans for qualifying service. The way it works is that RN’s will are able to have 60% of their Nursing loans written off for serving 2 years at a qualifying facility, along with 25% more for 1 additional year. That’s a pretty dang good deal, but it means you’d have to be willing to work at an underserved hospital or clinic, which could be a stressful, frustrating experience.
- Perkins Loan Discharges & Loan Cancellation for Nurses – Many people don’t realize it, but the “Teacher Loan Cancellation Program” also applies to Nurses, and allows full-time nurses (and medical technicians!) to write off 100% of their Perkins loans for five years of qualifying employment as a full-time nurse. The limitation on this program is that only Perkins loans are available for it, so you’d have to plan to use this one in advance of taking on debt.
- The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program – Nurses have always been able to take advantage of the PSLF program, and for good reason! It was created specifically to help encourage people to take up work in public service positions, and no job defines public service better than that of a Nurse. Any Nurse who holds a full-time, qualifying position will be able to have the entirety of their student loan balance forgiven after they’ve made 10 years worth (120) of monthly payments on their debt, no matter how much is left when that 120th payment is made!
If you’re a Nurse, or planning on becoming one, the great news is that you have access to some of the best student loan forgiveness benefits available to anyone.
But these programs outlined here aren’t all that there is to offer Nurses, because several states also provide specific State-Based Loan Forgiveness Programs for Nurses as well, with California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas all offering significant assistance programs of their own.
5. Doctors & Dentists Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
The Students to Service Loan Repayment Program (often abbreviated S2S LRP) was created to provide Federal loan forgiveness benefits to Doctors and Dentists, and offers up to $120,000 in total forgiveness in return for a 3 year service contract.
This program requires you to work full-time, as a primary care provider in an approved NHSC facility within a Health Professional Shortage Area of greatest need, but it’s an awesome benefit for anyone willing to relocate, or who already plans on working on an HPSA.
There’s also a clause that lets you potentially re-up your service contract for one year increments if the initial $120,000 payment doesn’t cover the entire balance of your loan, and there’s no set cap in place, so you could potentially re-up each year until your entire loan balance has been forgiven.
For details on how the program works, please visit my page about Student Loan Forgiveness Benefits for Doctors and Dentists.
6. Teacher Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
Teachers are another highly-valued member of society, and accordingly, the Federal Government has created several programs to help teachers get rid of their student loans.
Currently, there are three main forgiveness programs for teachers, including:
The Stafford Loan Forgiveness Program
The Stafford Loan Forgiveness Program was created to encourage “highly qualified” teachers to teach in impoverished areas, serving low-income families, so those families have access to educational resources which wouldn’t otherwise be available.
Stafford Loan Forgiveness benefits are pretty good too, but they do require a pretty substantial commitment, in the form of a five-year service commitment that requires you to teach in one of those low-income areas for five complete and consecutive years.
Eligibility for Stafford forgiveness is also restricted to certain types of loans, so you’ll only be able to take advantage of this program if you have an FFEL Stafford Loan, a Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized Loan, or a Consolidation Loan.
For specific details on how the program works, please visit my page on the Stafford Loan Forgiveness Program.
The Perkins Loan Forgiveness Program
The Federal Perkins Loan Forgiveness Program offers low interest rate loans to students in need of financial assistance.
This program was created to help economically underprivileged students obtain financing assistance to cover the costs of postsecondary education. 1,700 schools across the country participate in the Perkins Loan program, but applicants must first file a FAFSA as part of the application process.
Perkins loan recipients must also file a Perkins promissory note in order to be eligible to receive their loan. Perkins loan recipients are eligible to receive 15% loan forgiveness for their first and second years of full time teaching, 20% for their third and fourth years, and 30% for their fifth year of service.
For details on how this program works, please visit my page on the Perkins Loan Cancellation Program for Teachers.
Federal TEACH Grants
The Federal TEACH Grant Program isn’t technically a loan “forgiveness” program, since these grants are applied for and used before loan debt has been accumulated, they’re still worth mentioning here.
TEACH Grants provide up to $4,000 a year in tuition assistance for students who promise to become teachers in high-need subjects working in low-income areas.
Receiving a TEACH Grant requires completing an applications process that involves signing the TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve and formally accepting the requirements called for by the TEACH Grant Service Obligation, which states that you must teach low-income children in a high-need area for at least 4 total years within 8 years of receiving your TEACH Grant money.
This program is relatively easy to qualify for, and it can provide a great deal of value (at $4,000 per year, if it takes you 4 years to complete your undergraduate degree, then you could stand to receive $16,000 in TEACH Grant loans just for your undergraduate education), so it’s more than worth looking into if you’re interested in becoming a teacher.
To find out how you can get a TEACH Grant for yourself, please visit my page on the Federal TEACH Grant Program.
7. Government Employee Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
Anyone who works for the Government (at any level, including Federal, State and even Local-levels) is eligible for Federal student loan forgiveness benefits via the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which is literally the best, biggest, and fastest loan forgiveness program around.
That means that whether you’re a local City Assemblyman, a Police Officer, a Firefighter, a Park Ranger, or a DMV Employee, you’ve got an avenue to having your entire student loan debt forgiven after making just 10 years of payments, and payments set based on your monthly income.
For most Government employees, the income-based part is a huge plus, because typically Government jobs pay lower salaries, and you could even end up getting an assigned monthly payment of $0 if your income is low enough to qualify for that.
In fact, it’s actually possible to qualify for a $0 monthly payment, make that $0 monthly payment for a period of 10 years, and have the entire balance of your student loan forgiven, WITHOUT having to pay taxes on the amount that’s discharged!
For details on this program, please visit my page on the Government Employee Student Loan Forgiveness Program.
8. Non-Profit Worker Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
Just like PSLF benefits are available to Government employees, they’re also extended to anyone working in the Non-Profit sector, meaning anybody working for a 501(c)(3).
Technically, you don’t even have to work for a 501(c)(3) to qualify for Non-Profit Forgiveness benefits, because the official rules of the PSLF program state that anyone who counts as a non-profit worker is eligible for the benefit.
This program even relaxes some of the conditions for qualification, as it still requires working full-time while making your income-based monthly payments, but only requires you to work at least 30 hours per week (rather than the typical 40 that we’d expect).
And that’s a big deal, because working 10 fewer hours per week means earning less income, which reduces your monthly payments, making it even more likely that you’ll end up writing off a ton of debt when all is said and done.
Also, since the benefit is offered under PSLF, this Non-Profit forgiveness is another of those magic programs that doesn’t require you to pay taxes on the amount of money you get forgiven, making it extremely powerful.
For details on how it all works, please visit my page on Non-Profit Employee Student Loan Forgiveness Benefits.
9. Military Loan Forgiveness Programs
Military personnel continue to have access to some of the best Federal student loan forgiveness benefits, with options for using programs like the incredible Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (which they qualify for as Military Personnel, or Government Employees), or the amazing College Loan Repayment Programs, which offer up to $65,000 in forgiveness to eligible service members.
The one trick to military forgiveness benefits is that they’re different for members of each service branch, with the Army, National Guard, Navy, Air Force and the Reserves all offering completely different programs of their own, with wildly varying benefits, requirements and eligibility conditions.
Fortunately, it’s not that hard to figure out, and you can get the details on all of these programs by continuing to read the high-level details below, or by visiting my page on Military Student Loan Forgiveness Benefits Programs.
The Army Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP)
The Army Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) is available to new enlistees who are deemed to be “highly qualified” as a means for enticing them into joining the military.
Individuals who qualify for the Army’s LRP are eligible to have up to $65,000 worth of qualifying student loans fully paid off.
Qualifying for Army SLRP benefits requires requesting participation in the program during the enlistment process, having participation in the program annotated in writing on your enlistment contract, enlisting in an MOS eligible to participate in the program and a variety of other qualifications.
To get the details on how this program works, check out my page on the Army Student Loan Repayment Program (Army SLRP).
The Navy Student Loan Repayment Programs (SLRP)
The Navy Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) covers the cost for up to $65,000 worth of loans acquired from pursuing a post-secondary education program (any level of education higher than high school).
Navy LRP is available to all active duty enlisted personnel, but requires that enlistees must sign up to serve for a minimum of at least four years.
The Navy reserves currently offers up to $10,000 for Navy Reserve enlistments, which is significantly lower, but still a great benefit for those reserve personnel who require financial assistance.
To qualify for eligibility for the Navy Reserve LRP program, enlistees must agree to serve for a minimum of six years.
To find out all about these benefits, please visit my page on the Navy Student Loan Repayment Program (Navy SLRP).
The National Guard Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP)
Soldiers and officers that join the Guard with an existing student loan obligation at the time of their enlistment may be eligible for the National Guards Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP), which offers up to $50,000 of student loan debt relief for Guard members who take on certain jobs with a six or eight-year enlistment agreement.
Existing Guard members who extend their enlistment contract for at least six years are also eligible for the National Guard SLRP, as long as they meet eligibility requirements, including scoring high enough on the Armed Forces Qualifying Test and being a member of a valid Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) in their National Guard unit.
Finally, the National Guard student loan repayment program is also available to applicants entering Officer Candidate School (OCS) who have at least 90 college credit hours and agree to an additional eight-year commitment at the time of enrollment in OCS.
For specific details on this program, please visit my page on the National Guard Student Loan Repayment Program
The Air Force Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP)
The Air Force student loan repayment program is an incentive to enlistees that begins after airmen have completed their first year of service.
After their first year of service, the Air Force begins making annual payments totaling up to $10,000 on outstanding college loans for eligible airmen.
Through the CLRP, the Air Force pays off 33.33% or $1,500 (whichever is greater) of any qualified outstanding student loan debts for each year of service.
Payments end once the Air Force has paid $10,000, the maximum amount available for CLRP repayments.
To find out how this program works, please visit my page about the Air Force Student Loan Repayment Program.
The Army & Navy Reserves Forgiveness Programs
Army Reserves and Navy Reserves personnel are eligible to have up to 15% of the outstanding principle balance of their loans paid off by their respective branch annually, or up to $1,500 in annual debt repayments, whichever is greater, for each year of service.
The Air National Guard offers 15% annually, or up to $5,000 (again whichever value is greater) of student loan debt repayment for each year of service.
For details on how these programs works, visit their sections on the respective pages here: Army Reserves SLRP, Navy Reserves SLRP and Air National Guard SLRP.
10. Volunteer Forgiveness Programs (Peace Corps, VISTA & AmeriCorps)
Federal student loan debt forgiveness benefits are also available to individuals serving as volunteers through community service organizations like AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps, and VISTA.
These benefits are provided via the Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF), which again, makes them some of the best available.
Not everyone who serves in these organizations can take advantage of the available college loan forgiveness programs, but those individuals who have large debts, low incomes, and who have served or plan on serving for an extended period of time in these organizations are excellent candidates.
Federal student loan forgiveness for public service primarily serves volunteers working with:
If you serve for at least 12 months, you’ll receive up to $7,400 in stipends, along with $4,725 that you can apply towards your student loan debts. For more information, call 1-800-942-2677, or visit the AmeriCorps website here.
Peace Corps volunteers are eligible to apply for Stafford, Perkins and Consolidation loans deferment, as well as partial cancellations of Perkins Loans (at 15% for each year of service, up to a maximum of 70% in total loan Perkins Loans forgiveness for service). For more information, contact the Peace Corps at 1-800-424-8580, or visit the Peace Corps website here.
VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America):
VISTA volunteers who provide 1,700 hours of service are eligible to receive $4,725 in loan forgiveness. For more information, call 1-800-942-2677, or visit the AmeriCorps VISTA website here.
11. Closed School Student Loan Discharges
One of the newest avenues allowing you to qualify for Federal student loan forgiveness benefits is via the Closed School Student Loan Discharge Program, which lets you apply for forgiveness if you attended a school that shut down before you could finish your degree program.
Closed School Discharges are extremely powerful, in that they’re not that hard to qualify for, but their limiting factor is that the vast majority of people simply won’t be able to use them, since you had to be attending a school that shut down, and very few schools shut down (since they make so much money!).
However, if you are one of the lucky souls who attended a school that recently closed, then you’re in for a big reward, because it’s possible that you’ll get the rest of your loans forgiven, and in some cases, you may even qualify for a refund on the money you’ve already paid the school back.
There are a lot of specific details regarding this program though, so don’t assume you’ll qualify for the discharge simply because you attended a school that is no longer in business.
To find out if you’re eligible for the benefit, visit my page about Closed School Student Loan Discharges, or my pages on the Corinthian Colleges Student Loan Forgiveness Program, or the ITT Tech Student Loan Forgiveness Program.
12. The Borrower’s Defense to Repayment Program
If you haven’t qualified for any of the other Federal student loan forgiveness benefits programs mentioned above, don’t despair quite yet, because you’ve got one final hope: the Borrower’s Defense Against Repayment Program, which lets you challenge the legal validity of your loans.
This program has actually been around for some time, but most people had never heard of it, and it wasn’t until the big media coverage for the Corinthian Colleges shut down that it became popular.
Now, however, there are so many Borrower’s Defense to Repayment Discharge Applications being submitted on a daily basis, that the Department of Education is literally overwhelmed by them, and I’ve received first-hand reports of people waiting OVER A YEAR to find out whether or not their applications were approved!
The way Borrower’s Defense works is that it offers a complete Federal student loan discharge to anyone who can prove that their lender, school, or student loan servicing company did something illegal that led to them taking a loan which they wouldn’t have gotten had that behavior not occurred.
The easiest way to qualify for the Discharge is to explain that your school performed some sort of false advertising, or made misleading promises about what you would get as a result of completing their degree programs.
For details on how this program works, you definitely need to visit my page on the Borrower’s Defense Against Repayment Program, but because the system is so complicated, and can take so long to get an approval or denial response, this is one situation where I recommend that EVERYONE hires a student loan expert for assistance in preparing the application.
If you want to get approved for a Borrower’s Defense Discharge, then you should call the Student Loan Relief Helpline’s Borrower’s Defense Against Repayment Hotline and pay them to review your situation, help you put together the legal arguments required for your application, and increase the odds that you’ll actually receive an approval after it’s been submitted.
Call the Borrower’s Defense Hotline at: 1-888-732-4742.
Federal Forgiveness Benefits & Taxable Income Laws
The only real downside to getting Federal student loan forgiveness benefits is that some of the programs mentioned above WILL require you to pay taxes on the amount of money you get forgiven.
Per the IRS’s rules, whatever student loan forgiveness benefits you receive need to be included your annual IRS filings, and will count against your tax liabilities the year you receive them.
The forgiveness amount will furthermore be treated as regular income, so if you got $50,000 in forgiveness benefits, that would raise your taxable income for the year by $50,000 (which could end up costing you a LOT of money).
The worst part about the taxable income laws isn’t just that it ends up making you owe a ton of money to the IRS, but that the amount you’ll need to pay them needs to be paid all up-front, rather than stretched out over a period of money years, like you were doing with your student loans!
This is the dirty little secret of the student loan forgiveness industry that no one wants to talk about, but it’s also one of the most important considerations to take into account when deciding which forgiveness program you want to apply for, because remember, some do have tax liabilities, and other don’t.
As an example, many of the Nursing Forgiveness Programs will require you to claim the benefits you receive as taxable income, while the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program won’t lead to any additional tax costs.
To find out exactly how it all works, please visit my page on Student Loan Forgiveness Benefits and Taxable Income Laws.
Additional Resources for Tax-Related Problems
I think there’s an enormous potential for student loan forgiveness benefits to absolutely destroy the financial lives of many Americans, which is why I’ve created a brand new website focused entirely on tax-debt related issues: Forget Tax Debt.
At Forget Tax Debt, I offer the same kind of advice I provide here, except it’s focused entirely on helping you avoid getting into trouble (or helping you get OUT of trouble) with the IRS.
Whether you’re looking for basic information on How to Pay IRS Back Taxes, trying to figure out How to Sign up for the IRS Fresh Start Program, or looking for details on IRS Tax Debt Forgiveness Programs, Forget Tax Debt will walk you through the steps you need to take in order to avoid getting nailed by the IRS.
Watch Out For Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Scams!
One quick word of warning: scam artists have long been aware of all these amazing student loan forgiveness programs, and they’re doing everything they can to try and trick borrowers out of their hard-earned money.
If anyone contacts you via the phone, email, or even with a written letter, attempting to get you to sign up for one of their forgiveness programs, you should be extremely cautious before providing them with any personal information.
To find out how to sniff out a scam, and to protect yourself and your family from these con artists, please visit my page about Student Loan Debt Forgiveness Scams.
Why Does the Government Offer Student Debt Loan Forgiveness?
Due to the rising costs of higher education, the average college graduate leaves school with more debt than ever before, making Student Loan Debt Relief more important than it’s ever been before, especially considering the fact that many graduates will be unable to find jobs with salaries high enough to cover their monthly loan payments.
In fact, a recent article from CNN Money reported that the average student loan debt for recent graduates now sits at $29,400, which is a significant increase from years past, and something that would have been completely unthinkable just a couple of decades ago.
With an economy that continues to struggle, and excessive student loan debt weighing down the purchasing power of virtually every college graduate, the Federal Government realizes that many Americans are facing a relatively dire situation, and they’ve responded appropriately.
Accordingly, the Federal Government has created a wide variety of available debt forgiveness programs made for those people having trouble paying their student loans, with so many opportunities for financial assistance that virtually everyone will qualify (or could easily qualify with simple life changes) for some form of debt relief.
These debt forgiveness programs are taxpayer funded (you’re welcome!), and are certain to help you pay back your student loans more quickly, and at a lower cost, than you’d be able to do on your own, so be sure to take advantage of them!
If you have questions about anything covered on this page, please ask them in the comments section below. I’ll do my best to answer all questions within 24 hours.
Other Federal Student Loan Relief Programs
If you don’t find a way to qualify for any of the Federal student loan forgiveness programs listed above, you’re not sunk yet, because you still may qualify for one of the many excellent Federal Student Loan Relief Programs currently on offer, including:
- Federal Student Loan Repayment Plans
- Federal Student Loan Consolidation Programs
- Federal Student Loan Deferments
- Federal Student Loan Forbearances
- Federal Student Loan Refinancing Programs
- Federal Student Loan Bankruptcy Discharges
- Federal Student Loan Delinquencies & Defaults
- Federal Student Loan Rehabilitation Program
- Federal Student Loan Wage Garnishment Relief
- Federal Student Loan Grace Periods
All of these programs offer some sort of debt relief or financial assistance to borrowers who are having trouble paying back their student loans, and each program could stand to save you hundreds to thousands of dollars a month!
If You Have Private Student Loans…
If you’re one of the many unlucky souls to be holding Private Student Loan Debt, then you’ll want to head on over to my page about Private Student Loan Forgiveness so you can find out what’s available to you.
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Thank you for visiting, and thank you so much for your help! I really do appreciate it!
Disclaimer:Information obtained from Forget Student Loan Debt is for educational purposes only. You should consult a licensed financial professional before making any financial decisions. This site receives some compensation through affiliate relationships. This site is not endorsed or affiliated with the U.S. Department of Education.
We are parents who took out Federal Loans program for our son. He attended Rochester Institute of Technology. We have been making payments every month, for about 120 payments. We are both retired and the burden of payments is hard. We feel the interest is too high, coupled with the min payment we make, the principal seems to remain the same.
Our son never finished his degree, he had and still has health issues.
Please advise us how and who to see to help us with reducing the loan, or forgiveness.
It’s really tough to get forgiveness for a Parent PLUS Loan and I’m guessing that’s what you’ve got. I would look into the BDAR Discharge Program and see if there’s any way you can come up with a claim against the school. The odds are pretty low though to be honest because Parent PLUS Loans are some of the hardest to get rid of. Take a look at my Guide to Parent PLUS Loan Forgiveness for ideas.
Hi I am an RN BSN but I am swimming in student loan debt and was told about the forgiveness program for federal workers, I have worked in corrections for eleven years and still, currently work in it but am looking into this forgiveness program, am I too late or? I would like more information on it if possible
You’re not too late at all. If you work for the Federal Government, then take a look at the Government Employee Loan Forgiveness Program, and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (they’re the same program, just using different names).
I have been trying to forgiveness for my student loans sinAt thi99s s ce we found out that my disability was going to cause me too be unable to work in my field ever again. I am still disabled. I had paid my student loans down to 14,000. from 45000. before the accident. They put me in default status an went after my SSD check taking 238.00 a month from 2/2007 till 5/2016 an the amount of my loan lever decreased? I called them on it an they said I did not know how this kind of things works. I never agreed. Then they offered me the chance to get forgivenAt thi99s sess an to pull my loan out of default. Cause I was informed that even though payment for my loans were being taken out of my disability check every month it was still considered default. Then was put on income driven pay back status while waiting for Nelnet to do my forgiveness paperwork. Still have not gotten forgiveness done. Nelnet not done it yet and now I filled out the paperwork again this year with Navient an even though my bills are now higher they are saying that I am going to have to payments again until Nelnet figures out what they are doing. I just don’t understand how I am almost back to my original loan amount after paying for that may years. Don’t care what kind of math you have been taught it does not compute. Need someone to help me find out what they did with all my money they took and assist me in getting this forgiveness taken care of once an for all. Never would have thought I would still be dealing with my student loans almost 30 years after I finished At this rate I will be dead before this is done. Thank you in advance for any advice or information you may have for me in regards to this issue. Have a wonderful day.
If you haven’t been paying more than your interest accumulation, then it doesn’t matter how much you’ve been sending each month; your loan could actually end up being higher than what you originally borrowed.
If I accept and sign an ATS for a TEACH Grant can I still try for Loan Forgiveness in the future?
Yeah, as far as I know this doesn’t make it impossible for you to pursue other forms of Federal relief. I don’t think it has any bearing whatsoever on the other programs available.
With that said, you may want to do double check with your student loan servicing company, or the Financial Aid advisor at your school, because obviously I don’t get to make the call, and it’s always good to have a second opinion!
I went to Everest College for Court Reporting in 2007-2008. I did not graduate, but chose to leave after I slowly realizing I was in real danger of being scammed by the school. How the entire program operated just didn’t seem right, and I didn’t feel that I had been told the truth about the success rate upon graduation, or that my education with them was up to par. However, I had already racked up several federal loans because we were called into student aid every 3-4 weeks in-between classes to renew our loans in order to continue to even the next class that day! After about 10 months I knew I had to leave, but these loan amounts due from that time have persisted. The school was closed in 2015 or 2016 I believe, after I was long gone. Do I qualify for loan dismissal/forgiveness?
It sounds like you could create a compelling argument for a BDAR Discharge, but you should read my post about the Everest College Lawsuit, as well as my Guide to the Borrower’s Defense to Repayment Program to find out how to increase the odds of getting your application approved. Good luck!
I am happy that I found your site and thank you for all of the information that you have provided. So, I went to Heald College in Stockton, CA, and graduated with my Associates Degree in Accounting, well at least I thought I did. I walked the stage and never received my diploma in the mail when they said they were. I requested it many time and never got anywhere. I started working at restaurants because I could not find work in Stockton, CA, and Heald College was not a big help when they said they would have job placements. I then moved to Maryland on the East Coast and went back to school. While I was going to school I landed a job at a Law Office as a paralegal. My boss closed down her law practice and I went to apply for schools in the area. The school that I applied to asked me for a copy of my transcript from Heald College. I requested it from a third party because as you already know it closed down. When I received my transcript in the mail, I discovered that I only had 8 credits. I called the third party and said that this is a mistake and that I graduated in 2008. She checked and said no, that is the correct transcript. I then applied for one of the programs to get it discharged and it was denied. I’ve tried calling the lawyers in California that worked on the case and never received a response back. If I go back to school I have to start all over again and still have this debt as well as the new student loans that I would have to take out. I hope you will have some pointers for me!
You’re going to have to figure out what’s going on with your credits, and why you would think you graduated, but transcripts are showing that you only completed 8 credits. That’s a huge margin for error.
If you really did graduate, then you won’t qualify for a Closed School Discharge, but if you didn’t, and you were still a student within the eligibility window of the school’s closure, then you should be able to qualify.
I would contact the Student Loan Ombudsman Group, which is a Government-backed group of attorneys who offer free legal advice on student loan-related problems, as they may be able to help here. Google their name for their contact info.
hello I’m enquiring about a loan my wife co-signed for my son. She having her wages garnished now & I’d just like to know if there is any kind of forgiveness for our situation as we really don’t need this if we can avoid it _ thanks John.
You’ll need to figure out if the loan is Private or Federal, and then determine if you have any sort of qualifying conditions, like working for the right kind of employer, in the Non-Profit space, Federal Government, as a Nurse, etc., to see if your wife matches any of the available Forgiveness programs currently on offer. It’s not a simple question!
I went to a private undergrad college and grad school. My job doesn’t pay enough (little over minimum wage). I work in the medical field. I have Perkins, Sallie mae and federal standard loan. Do I qualify for student forgiveness loan?
If you’re working in the Medical Field, then there’s a good chance that you’ll qualify for something. Check out my page on Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness Programs for details.
I am so stunned to have various agencies calling me and emailing me about my student loan and my repayment plan. I’m 65 years old…and the last call I received and almost pursued their plan for repayment…..was a FARCE
I wish the Department of Education would give yearly updated information regarding their/OUR loans.; all NEW policies and procedures available for loan forgiveness. The DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION should eliminate these scammers and provide adequate yearly information.
It seems to me that the former students are supposed to stay uninformed and in the dark until they reach for solutions themselves…solutions are not given to us on paper. I guess when you became a student initially you are thrown into the category of FIND OUT FOR YOURSELF PROVE YOUR INTELLECT.
Unfortunately there all sorts of Student Loan Debt Forgiveness Scams going on, especially now as the scammers have realized how desperate some people with huge outstanding loan balances have become.
You’ve got to be extremely careful about how you go after getting rid of your loans, and who you talk to about them, because scammers are everywhere these days, and it’s only likely to get worse as the student loan debt bubble keeps growing larger each year.
(This written experience concludes with a question)
I went to a community college in SE Missouri. A financial/education advisor was assigned to me like every other student. After receiving next to no true help from my assigned advisor, at my adamit request I was denied using any other then the one assigned. I must admit She did help with my decision to become a history teacher with great enthusiasm. Although she was a great help with setting my goal she gave me no instruction to accomplish my goal outside of what Prerequisite classes where required and what financial options where available. Nothing about what was required of me nor how to properly handle the responsibility that came along with the financial assistance I required. But the worst part was she couldn’t comprehend the details for the post 9/11 GI Bill causing her to provide inaccurate information as well as refused to take in the fact that I was unable to go full time and seemed to be quite annoyed that I wouldn’t cut out my income to follow the rules ”I” discovered the GI Bill required for assistance. Having been out of school for as long as I had and being ignorant to the financial assistance programs I made decisions on what little information I was able to muster, needless to say I became quite overwhelmed and was incapable of performing the tasks required. I then gave into her insistent advice and went full time to take advantage of free government assistance. This, was not a good decision on my part so I dropped a class (with correct/incorrect info I was able to drop one class without penalty) so I chose to drop biology having been the class I was struggling the most with this put me over a half a credit causing me to loose my GI Bill as well as Pell Grant. I also took out a federal loan to subsidize my lost income due to going full time. I didn’t go back the next semester because of my lost assistance and fear of putting myself into more debt. That being said, time has gone by and I’m more informed and less intimidated but can’t seem to come up with a plan to accomplish my goal/dream to teach. I can’t afford to pay out of pocket for a full time semester to get my assistance’s back. How can I go about loan deferral to gain approval for one more loan?
Did you stop paying your loans? If they went into Delinquency or Default, then you won’t be able to get approved for another Federal loan until you fix that. I would recommend that you read through my Guide to Student Loan Delinquency and Default, then look at my page on Student Loan Rehabilitation. I think these will be your best options for getting back into repayment status so you can get approved for a new loan.
Thanks for your knowledge and experience. I have been researching my options and am hoping to bounce an idea off of you. I am currently in an IBR program with FedLoan and have been for over 2 years. I started this process working for the state government and last September switched to a 501(c)3 nonprofit.
Through my current employer, many of the other therapists have applied for and have been awarded loan forgiveness monies through the National Health Services Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Program. As I understand it, these two programs work differently and I am trying to figure out whether or not they can be used simultaneously. The NHSC information says that I can’t have another “service obligation” or that service obligation needs to be finished, terminated, completed by the application deadline.
On the one hand, I can see that I have agreed to work in public service for at least 10 years, making no less than 120 qualifying payments, and my loan payments are adjusted according to my income. So, I can see that this might be seen as a service obligation. On the other hand, I am not limited by FedLoan to work in a specific geographic location (major metropolitan area or rural area), for a specific company (state government, non-profit mental health agency, etc.), or for a specific time frame.
My 120 qualifying payments could take me 20+ years to eventually make if I let it. With the NHSC program, the requirements are much more specific, rural area, two year commitment, etc. I am interested in potentially applying for the NHSC program as well. I know that the two programs work differently and I am wondering if you know whether or not they could be used simultaneously? Are you aware of whether or not this has this been done before?
Thanks for your consideration.
This is a good question, and I think you may be ok here because the PSLF program doesn’t actually require a “service commitment”. Service commitments are agreements, in advance, to do some set service for some period of time.
They’re like working for the PeaceCorps, AmeriCorps, or one of the Nursing loan forgiveness programs, and require filling out paperwork (basically a service contract) in advance of the actual work being begun.
PSLF doesn’t work that way. You just work your (qualifying) job, and make (qualifying) payments for a set period of time. Once you’re done making enough qualified payments, you’re rewarded with forgiveness.
In my opinion, you should be ok to do both at the same time. For specific details, I’d contact whoever services your loans and make sure they interpret the rules this same way.
I’m in the process of signing a contract for active duty military. The contract is for five years, so I’m not sure if they round up or down when deciding whether or not you forfeit the GI Bill. Do you happen to know?
I definitely plan to go back to school during/after my time in the Army.
You’d better ask them about that rounding issue – I don’t know how it works. Make sure you get a good answer by contacting the Student Loan Ombudsman Group, a team of lawyers that work for the Federal Government, and who offer student loan legal consulting services for free.
I am an EMT/Firefighter working for a tribal fire and rescue agency. I am also a local volunteer fire fighter. I started my AS in respiratory therapy almost 2 years ago and received Stafford loans. I do not know why they didn’t give me Perkins loans or if it matters. I have a 3.97 GPA and am due to graduate in December with a huge bill. Despite my years of service, good grades and financial need, I have been unable to find scholarships or grants beyond the federal programs. I am trying to be smart about my upcoming student loans and not make mistakes. From all my reading, it seems I would have been better off with Perkins loans, but despite my inquiries to the school… I haven’t received any reason why or information regarding the matter. Any advice?
Perkins loans would have been a better idea because the benefits are better, but it sounds like you should still absolutely qualify for the BEST Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Program available – the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which offers complete loan forgiveness after 120 monthly payments have been made (that’s 10 years worth of payments).
I know that regular Firefighters qualify for it, and I would assume that Tribal (Reservation?) employees would as well. This is something I’ve never run across before though, so you’re going to need to do some investigating of it on your own.
I would recommend that you contact whoever services your loans (the people you’re going to be making payments to), to find out whether or not your position qualifies for PSLF. Then, ask them what you need to do to ensure that you are working toward forgiveness.
My recommendation would be to get on the Pay As You Earn Student Loan Repayment Plan, which is the best Federal Student Loan Repayment Plan possible, in my opinion, and which will ensure that your monthly payments count toward that 120 payment threshold.
In the year of 1999-2003 i went to school for my A.S.degree in Nursing, after finishing the pre-requisites you have to apply for the program, i applied and i was not accepted. I then realized that i was stuck with student loans. In 2011 i was accepted into another University and finally got in the Nursing Program. In the 3rd semester of being in the program i was released because of Academic issues. I had 3 family deaths in one year and broke my finger within the same time frame. The school believes that if you get more than 2 C’s you are automatically released from the program. I am now further in debt with student loans and of course no degree. I am truly devastated and really need some help, what do i need to do, anyone please.
Are your loans Federal or Private?
I am an officer in the army reserves I was active duty for two years with a deployment I have a contract for 8 years in the reserves but I still have about 60k in loans from school while in rotc but I am currently not full time is their anyway to get my loans forgiven or is my only option is to keep doing the income based repayment plan and in 20 years have them forgiven and would I have to stay in for 20
Your best option would be to find a way to qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which offers total forgiveness after just TEN years of payments (instead of the typical 20). To qualify for PSLF, you’ll need to work for the Government, a Non-Profit, or some other position that is included on the eligibility guidelines. See my page on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (linked above) for a breakdown of the details.
I was on PAYE program for couple of years after grace period ended. Each year I submitted copies of my paystubs. This year, however, instead of paystubs I was only allowed to submit tax returns. Since we filed jointly with my domestic partner (not married, live and have a child together), my “income” has drastically increased. Hence, I was not qualified for PAYE. Although, we live together and file taxes jointly, I think it’s wrong to dismiss my actual income. I work part-time and dont make too much at all, so I’m barely able to meet the standard monthly payments. Is there any way around submitting your taxes to qualify for PAYE?
Thanks for all the info. Great and informative site.
Thanks for the kind words! Unfortunately, there’s no way to get around the filing jointly issue (that I’m aware of at least). The rules have changed over the years and most of the income-based repayment plans now require both partners income whether or not you file jointly/separately.
The Federal Government has really been cracking down on financial benefits of late, and this is one of the casualties of tightening the purse strings.
If there were a way to get around this, I think you would need to consult with a CPA or some kind of financial planner type. It’s possible that they could help you sort out a better solution, but I do think it’s a long shot.
I went to school in 2008-2009 for Medical Assisting and was wondering if I could still qualify for student loan forgiveness. I’m currently paying but have been deferring the larger loan. What options might I have? Thanks
You’re going to do some more research, reading through the different pages of my site, to figure out what you can qualify for. Did you graduate? Are you working as a Nurse or LMT? Are you working for a non-profit? You didn’t give me nearly enough information to answer your question.
I was injured in 2011 and have not been able to work. I’m not totally disabled, but I’m considered partially disabled. I am currently on an IBR plan and pay $0 a month, but I’m still accruing interest. Am I elegable for loan forgiveness???
This is a tricky question. If you were totally and permanently disabled, you’d receive an immediate debt discharge. Because you’re only partially disabled, you don’t automatically get forgiveness.
However, even if your payments are $0 per month, they WILL count toward your required 120 or 240 monthly payments to receive forgiveness. It sounds like you are probably going to have to make the entire 220 monthly payments, because I don’t think you could be qualifying for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program while you’re not working, but if you were injured on the job while working at a qualifying position… maybe?
I’d consult with an attorney, or speak to whoever services your loan, and ask them for details.
The good news is that, yes, your $0 monthly payments WILL COUNT toward the limit required for total forgiveness. The difficult news is figuring out if you’ll have to make the full 240, or will get off with just doing the 120.
I expect that if college loans are to be forgiven that all the parents who sacrificed to pay for their children’s educations will receive a rebate, correct?
Unfortunately, student loan forgiveness programs tend to leave the parents out in the cold. In fact, there are very few options for any sort of recompense for parents and grandparents (or other cosigners) who helped kids pay for college. I think the Government has taken the viewpoint that the kids are being scammed by shady lenders, but that the adults should have known better.
I have taught in a Christian School for the past 15 years, I took out a loan 10 years ago and could not keep up with the payments. It went into default and has been rehabbed. Is there any programs that could help me with this. It is with Navient now and is up-to-date. It is a federal loan worth about $10,000
Are your loans still in default? The problem with defaulting on student loan debt is that it makes you ineligible for the awesome Federal financial benefits packages, like forgiveness, deferments, and forbearance. If you’re in default, you won’t be able to do much of anything.
If you’re back out of default, then you may be able to qualify for something, but you’re going to have to figure out what by reading through the content on this site, or by doing some fancy Googling.
One thing you can try is calling the Student Loan Relief Helpline to ask them what (if anything) you qualify for. They’ll take your information and let you know if there’s a shot at getting some financial relief. You can reach them here.
My federal student loan is over 30 years old. According to the law a student loan 25 years old is to be forgiven. I have talked to several people who said their’s were forgiven but mine has’t.
Where did you hear that any loans 25 years old are to be forgiven? This is news to me.
I have around $11,000.00 in Federal loans and have become totally disabled and am living on $659.00 SSDI a month. I have to file bankruptcy and see if if I can get loan forgiveness. Can I get that and if so can I ever use fasfa again?
If you really are totally and permanently disabled, then you definitely DO NOT need to file for bankruptcy to get loan forgiveness. There’s a program called the Total and Permanent Disability Discharge Program, which was created specifically for people in your situation!
President Obama even referenced this program only about a week ago, and stated that his administration is proactively contacting people in your situation to tell you about the available forgiveness benefits.
Go here for more information about Total and Permanent Disability Forgiveness benefits: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/disability-discharge
I qualify for the PLSF Program but am having a hard time deciding which income based repayment option to choose… (provided I stay qualified for the PLSF for the full 10 years). Any suggestions for both if I stay with the non-profit, or decide to leave in the future?
If you don’t think you’ll be held liable for taxes on the amount that ends up getting forgiven at the end of the 10 year period, then I’d pick the Repayment Plan with the lowest monthly payment. If you think you’ll get taxed on the amount forgiven, then I’d pick the plan with the highest monthly payment that you can actually afford.
Thank you for all the great info! I may be similar to “Debbie” comment? I began repaying
in 1997, curently owe $18,000 and while I’m a health care professional (acupuncturist) that isn’t on
the public service loan forgiveness list. As well, I’m self employed so don’t have an “employer” to submit. Do you have any recommendations as to which path to follow for forgiveness, it’s been such a heavy
burden and while I love my work, the pay isn’t the greatest! I look forward to hearing,
I would recommend you call the for-profit company called the Student Loan Relief Helpline. Please do note that this is not a free service, and it’s not a Government Service, but a profit-driven organization that helps people reduce their monthly payments and find out how to qualify for loan forgiveness benefits. You can reach them here: 1-888-694-8235.
I have been contacted by a document preparation center stating they can consolidate my federal student loans. Do not know the name of the company…how do I know they are legitimate?
You don’t need to pay anyone anything to consolidate your Federal student loan debt. You can do that yourself, for free!
To get started, simply go here.
I began repaying Stafford loans in 1997. They were consolidated later through sallie Mae. Now they are in Navient. I still owe around $9,000. I’m 61 and would love to be rid of the payments. Are the loans forgiven after 20 years, in 2017, or 25 years, in2022?
Right now, you aren’t eligible for the reduced loan forgiveness benefit (forgiveness after 20 years), since your loans are older than October 1st, 2007. You should be eligible for forgiveness after 25 years of payments in 2022 though, and if they remove the qualification regarding age of the loan, then you may end up qualifying for complete forgiveness earlier.
Can federal employees who are seasonal wild land firefighters qualify for some level of student loan forgiveness?
I don’t think you’ll be able to qualify for anything because most of the Federal forgiveness programs for specific workforces require full-time employment. Sorry =(
I was seventeen no high school diploma failed enrollment testing did not have correct birth date and was told I could enroll for school. They had me sight on two loans when I was Grant accepted. Due to my lack of knowledge I was not aware of what I was signing. I failed my studies and was told I couldn’t graduate with my class because I was pregnant but rather than say I completely failed my course they pushed me into the next graduation class. School closed in 1992 so I was not able to return or retain original school documents.
My taxes have been taken many times and only used on interest.
I’m unable to make payments due to hardship and because my loan isn’t over the qualified amount for discharge I’m faced with fear of financial hardship and risk garnishment and taxes taken again.
Please help my debt be forgiven, eraced.
I would recommend that you look into bankruptcy options by consulting with a local attorney. You may be able to file bankruptcy and have your debt discharged.
Yes i graduated college in 2010 and joined the navy in Fall of 2012 while I was at MEPS i was not aware of the Program the navy offered for Student Loan Forgiveness.. Now I am currently still in , and I have been doing some research about the Navy program for Student Loan Forgiveness and it is only offered for people who are about to join the navy. I am wondering are there any programs for Active Military Personnel like my self can qualify for???
As far as I’m aware of, there are no similar debt forgiveness programs for active duty military. Most of the active duty military education benefits are about preventing you from racking up future debt (with things like Tuition Assistance, Grants, etc. via the Post 9/11 GI Bill).
Unfortunately, the military doesn’t offer a lot of ways to help pay off debt that was already generated before enlisting.
Thank you so much for your help and insight on the topic.
I have two graduate school loans from 2010 to 2013 – Stafford Loan and Grad Plus loan. I am currently enrolled in the pay as you earn program but am confused on the “loan forgiveness” opportunities. If I am not working in a public sector; can I still qualify for the 10 year forgiveness or does that automatically place me in the 25 year category? Also, am I responsible for taxes on the amount that is forgiven after 10 or 25 (whichever is applicable to my situation)?
Where would you suggest I look for more information, either online or by calling?
It seems like there are options out there, we just need to get informed. Ultimately, we’re all just trying to get an education and better ourselves and our country!
Unfortunately, you’re right on your reading of the forgiveness option. If your job doesn’t qualify for the stipulations of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, then you won’t qualify for forgiveness at the 10 year mark, and will have to make the full 20 years (not 25 years) worth of payments before the remaining debt is forgiven.
Also, yes, whatever money is forgiven will be added to your taxable income for that year, and you’ll need to pay taxes on that amount.
I’ve wrapped up all the details of the program on my site, but if you want to look at the Government’s official sources, then head on over to: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation
Thank you very much for the information. This is extremely helpful.
I have two loans outstanding : 1) original in Jan 1997 from Sallie Mae and 2) original 2012 from Navy Federal. I am a nurse practitioner and cannot figure out how middle class people are supposed to qualify for these federal loan dismissal programs. I have been in graduate school for past 3 years paying as I go along. What is left for me to do to get these paid off or forgiven? Very frustrating to say the least.
You’re in a tight spot, since that 1997 loan prevents you from taking advantage of the President Obama’s forgiveness program. Have you checked out my page on Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness Programs though? You guys have all sorts of benefits available – maybe some of these would help?
Quick question. I am an officer in the military, so to my understanding most replayment or forgiveness plans won’t work for me (not enlisted). Is there any plans for officers. I have a PhD and accured quite a bit of debt to attain it. Previously in deferrment because of additional army training, now I am required to pay it back but there is so much. Is there anything that I can do to have this forgiven or paid off by other means?
Are your loans Federal or Private? If they’re Federal, you may be able to use the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) and the Pay As You Earn Student Loan Repayment Plan to get the loans forgiven after making 10/20 years worth of payments on them.
I would investigate those programs first, as I think that’s your best bet. One thing to note – benefits are better for people who took their loans out on or after October 1st, 2007.
Since you’ve got a PhD, I’m guessing your loans predate that, and they will not be eligible for PSLF under the fast-track 10 year plan, but they should be later this year (Congress is supposed to make it possible for everyone to access the PAYE Plan by December, 2015.)
Thank you for your service, and good luck!
I had utilized student loans to obtain a BS and then went into the Army in September 2007. I was commissioned in September 2008. I have since obtained a MS and now my BS loans are starting to become due. I am Active Guard Reserves which means I’m a Reservist on permanent active duty. My student loans are over 800.00 a month and way too high to afford. Which if any of these forgiveness programs do I qualify for and who would I contact to initiate the process?
I’m assuming you have Federal loans… if you have Private loans then you’re in hot water and won’t be able to take advantage of any of this advice.
My advice for you is to first sign up for one of the Income-Based Student Loan Repayment Plans so that your monthly payments are dropped to an affordable amount, then get on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (I think your status as a Reservist on permanent active duty will qualify, but you’ll have to double check on that), which will allow you to get your loans discharged after making payments for a set number of years, no matter how much debt remains.
You could also look into Forbearance and Deferment Programs, but those basically just put your loans on pause, with some loans continuing to collect interest while they’re paused, making them even more expensive in the long run.
Every situation is unique, and yours sounds quite unique, so you’re going to have to make the decision on how to proceed on your own. Trust me when I say that it’s worth your time to look into all of the available programs and sort out the details yourself.
What about loans to DFAS?
I was enrolled in Army ROTC from 2007-2011. I had a false statement filed against me and was given one of two options. Serve 4 years active duty starting out as an E-1, or fight it with a formal board. I fought it and just recently have exhausted all my appeals. Several cadre members had even made statements pertaining to how the process was stacked against me from the beginning. I involved a state Senator and Congresswoman who both opened congressional inquiries. Still to no avail.
The ABCMR (Army Board of Correction for Military Records) has now ordered me to repay the amount of nearly $136k for my tuition assistance at a rate of $3.8k a month to DFAS…
In my ROTC contract, it states that bankruptcy is not an option for debt forgiveness.
What are my options… If any…?
I went to school to become a pilot… And sadly starting pay for a pilot these days is only $17-25k a year after you accumulate 1,000 flight hours… Which makes repaying this debt nearly impossible…
Sorry to hear about your situation. I wish I could offer you some great advice, but I would recommend that you speak to an attorney immediately.
You’re facing very unique circumstances that will require a sophisticated legal/financial approach, and I definitely do not want to steer you the wrong direction.
I am shocked (but sad) to see that I am not the only one in this situation with ROTC and the DFAS. The circumstances of my ‘disenrollment’ from ROTC are slightly different, but my resulting debt is identical to yours.
I would be VERY interested in hearing about any developments, progress, or general guidance you have been able to obtain about this because I’ve been carrying this for several years now and it affects everything from tax returns to my consumer credit. Since your original post was last year I’m sure you understand what I’m talking about.
Please contact me by any means made available to you on this forum.
I am unemployed and my loans are in default, if I set up a payment plan will my loans come out of default? if so how soon. I know this sounds strange but I can not get a job in my field without an Bachelors or Masters I currently have an Associates) and want to go back to school to finish, I need loans to accomplish this. Also will I be able to get federal loans… or will that require private banks and I do not have a co-signer, there are eight of us kids, Mom is co-signed out!
Only the lender can remove your loans from default, and no, they don’t automatically come out of default because you’re making payments.
I can’t tell you whether or not you’d qualify for Federal loans, but I would definitely start there to see if you can get one because they’re far superior to what’s offered on the private market.
Have you thought about switching fields? Enlisting in the military for the college benefits? Looking at scholarships and grants? Saving up before going back to school?
You may want to reconsider digging yourself deeper into debt just to get that degree, because many recent graduates are finding out that it doesn’t make financial sense.
I don’t want to crush any dreams and I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but college degrees aren’t necessarily all that they’re cracked up to be.
Tim, thanks for doing what you do here. Any word on changes to the PSLF program, in lieu of the proposed $57K cap? I’m in the IBR program, working for a 501(c)3 nonprofit, and have been making qualifying payments for approximately six years – and I’m terrified that changes to the PSLF program will affect me. All my loans are federal. Also, I’ve been told by my loan servicer in the past that I don’t do anything “now” for PSLF, that I wait until closer to the end of the 10 years. Any insight into that?
Thanks for the kind words! As of yet, nothing has even been officially proposed when it comes to the $57,000 cap. Talks about it seemed to stop when the actual budget was submitted and approved, but I would expect we’ll see the topic returning to discussions when the Higher Education Act Reauthorization really starts to heat up later this year.
I highly doubt that they will take your credits away, because typically when they make changes to programs like this they set the changes to take affect a few years into the future, so you should be fine.
And yes, you don’t have to do anything for PSLF until you’ve satisfied the eligibility conditions. That’s one of the most confusing parts of the program, but you’re all set for now.
Good job staying on top of things and being alert to potential changes. If everyone were more like you we wouldn’t be facing such a crisis when it comes to student loan debt.
Thanks for stopping by Frank!
Starting Feb I am losing my job, I have ask my loan service about the forgiveness programs out there and they keep telling me I do not qualify and I do not have the money to get a consolidation program what do I do know???
thank you for your help
Are your loans Federal or Private? If they are Federal, then you should look into Federal Student Loan Deferments, and Federal Student Loan Forbearance Programs. These will effectively pause your loans so that payments don’t have to be made for a certain period of time.
Just be careful with them, because for some loans, interest continues to accumulate over the paused period, making your loan more expensive in the long run.
Can i apply myself? or do i have to go through some firm who will charge me $250 and say its “guaranteed”? If I can apply myself, where do i find the proper paperwork? And then what do I do with it after its filled out?
You can apply yourself. All you need to do is contact your loan servicer (the people you send your monthly payments to) and ask them for the details on how to apply.
Jenny, again! Now I’m wondering about the “tax consequences” if this came to fruition. Would your PERSONAL ADVICE be to consult a CPA Tax attorney (given my family knows a good one)? Sorry for all the questions, but I sure am glad to have found your website! Thanks a bunch!
Absolutely speak to the family friend before proceeding! There are major tax consequences to all forms of student loan forgiveness, and you will definitely want to take them into account before determining how to proceed here.
Thanks again for sharing your story with me Jenny. I hope everything turns out fantastic for you! Good luck!
Jenny, again. I just was reading the “official website” for TPD Discharge and it states a “three-year-monitoring period.” I had read “five years” before so I just wanted to clear that up since I stated five years above. Thank you! Jenny
I just have come across your website and this blog. A job well done, and thank you! I had to step down from my career in September of 2009 and file for disability. I was awarded full disability in August of 2011, and it was retroactive back to the time of initial filing – in September of 2009. I have been utilizing forbearance all this time, not knowing about “TPD Discharge” until this past week. My forbearance is up in six days, from today (according to Navient (formally Sallie Mae as I am sure you know), and I only have a little time left on forbearance – “student loan debt burden.” I have always paid any debt I owed and had full intentions of doing this as well. However, I had no clue my health and a surgery in 2011 to correct the “issue” would go awry overnight. I have read some on the “total and permanent disability discharge” and see that if they approve they would monitor you for five years to make sure you did not return to work. My goal is to return to work. I refuse to take “no” for an answer from a lot “people.” I just lost almost four years of returning to work after surgery due to the “mess up” with the surgery, and the fact that a neurosurgeon will not see a prior surgical patient until after a three-year-mark from the original surgery. I finally have consult appointments with to NS’s the first of December. Do you know if the TPD Discharge is retroactive (or if I can even apply if I am looking for it to be retroactive?” As well, I need to do something, quickly as my forbearance ends in six days, as I stated above. Would you suggest applying for a new forbearance right now and then embarking on the TPD Discharge? I feel horrible about this as I always pay my debt, but the interest and such is accruing, I do not make the money I used to make, no matter how much I made all these years working, your disability income is not substantial to survive on a “bare note” these days. I just need some help in understanding or if you have any thoughts about what to do. Thank you again for your help. I hope you enjoy your weekend!
Sorry to hear about your situation, but I am inspired by your can-do attitude!
Unfortunately, as far as I know, nothing applies retroactively when it comes to student loan repayments, forgiveness, etc., so any potential savings that you were entitled to had you enrolled in the TPD program will not end up being repaid to you after the fact.
I would definitely seek out the TPD Discharge if I were you, and for good reason: this program was created to help people who end up facing life circumstances that prevent them from paying back the debt they’ve taken out for higher education expenses, i.e. YOU!
I wouldn’t feel bad about utilizing the program because it was created for your exact situation! The whole point of Government assistance is that it’s supposed to serve as a ‘safety net’ for people who truly need it.
Also, I have a personal connection to the topic, as a family member recently went through a major surgery and then instead of filing for disability (like everyone advised her) returned to work soon afterward.
She finished her career and hit some of the goals that she had wanted to accomplish, but when she went to file for disability after about 6 months of returning to work, the Government gave her absolute hell over the fact that she had returned, saying that she obviously wasn’t disabled.
In their eyes, how could she need disability if she had been back on the job right after her surgery? It’s because she’s tougher than hell, but she was punished for being one of the fighters. She had her disability benefits cut off, and is basically screwed until she becomes old enough to start collecting Social Security.
The system is backwards in this respect, so please, for your own sake, do not struggle too hard to get back to work unless you’re sure you’ll be able to handle it, because it may end up biting you in the end.
Be very, very careful about how you proceed here, and please speak to a lawyer before determining what to do. They are the only people qualified to give you great advice on a subject like this!
I think it’s great that you want to get back to work, and I really admire your attitude, but please be cautious about how you approach the situation. Mistakes here could ruin your finances, literally forever.
I also have federal student loans from the 90’s, and I am a public service worker at a 501c3 school (parent liaison). Am I eligible for PSLF program even though I’m not a teacher.
For the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, you don’t have to be a teacher to qualify for loan forgiveness. However, the eligibility rules for the program are slightly confusing.
For details, be sure to visit out page about the PSLF program, here.
I currently have done 1 year in the Army Reserve after doing 5 years in the Air National Guard. I haven’t received a bonus from the Army because I was not eligible for any. Is there a program like the PSLF for people in the Guard/Reserve since we’re technically federal/DoD employees?? I was in school to be a pilot which ran me up to about $90,000 total…I enlisted to the Air National Guard where they did blood work to find out I have a Sickle Cell Trait and cannot fly unpressurized aircraft(hence cannot go through flight training). I pretty much wasted my time with school. I cannot file bankruptcy either or I’ll be discharged from the Army Reserve. Please Help!!!!
Yikes. You’re in a sticky situation here Sam. I don’t want to lead you the wrong direction, so I’d suggest contacting the VA to ask them about what they can do (if anything), then speaking with your CO, and finally, consider contacting the Ombudsman Group here to ask if there’s anything they can do for you.
I wish you all the luck in the world man. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.
Do you have a specific number people can call to sign up for Obama’s Loan Forgiveness Program and PAYE? Thanks.
Contact whoever services your loan. They will let you know what needs to be done to get enrolled in the program.
Their seems to be no provision made to forgive student loans at the time of 9/11 and the years following when so many middle class families who were and still are, bearing the brunt of supporting the economy and cities by continuing to pay taxes even when the lower income are not required to. Most middle class families took student loans and lost everything after 9/11.
Private student lenders only care about adding interest and fees to student loans and are very quick to commit one to court. Middle class families unfortunately fall in the middle between lower income and upper class and there has never been provision for us. No forgiveness for anything.
If President Obama’s student loan forgiveness program and the Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan are opened up to everyone, then middle class families will finally have a shot at getting some assistance.
Also, don’t forget, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program is a great opportunity for middle-class graduates to have their debt forgiven, but it does require some serious work to get there (and sacrifice).
There may not be middle-class-specific options on the table, but some of the existing Federal student loan forgiveness programs can definitely be leveraged by middle-class earners.
I took out Federal loans, Perkins and Stafford Loans. Sallie Mae now handles them and consolidated my loans. I borrowed money for this education beginning in 1990. Interest has accumulated and as of today, I am not employed. I have filed forbearances, deferments, etc. and I keep accumulating interest and making no payments. I am wondering if I can qualify for “forgiveness” on this debt. It is now around $29,000.
Under the current loan forgiveness program, which is referred to as President Obama’s loan forgiveness program, or the Pay As You Earn student loan repayment plan, you do not qualify for loan forgiveness.
However, if and when (I think it will happen) Pay As You Earn gets opened up and made available to everyone, you will qualify for its benefits and you will be able to enroll in the plan.
There’s no telling when that will happen, unfortunately, but I do have some other advice for you…
Look into getting your consolidated loan put on an income-based repayment plan. If you have no income, and you can get them to calculate your monthly payment while your income is $0, then you may end up with a $0 monthly payment.
Unfortunately, you’ll be in the same situation as before, racking up interest on a loan because you aren’t making any payments, but that might be your best option for now.
Alternatively, you could try pushing for an economic hardship deferment, which might even allow you to defer the loan and avoid interest accumulation.
It’s hard to say for sure what you should do in this situation, but don’t give up, because you do have options. The loan is never going to disappear entirely, and don’t think that “forgiveness” is free, because even when you have your debt “forgiven”, the IRS counts it as taxable income for that year, and you end up facing a pretty big tax bill anyway.
If I were in your situation, I would get employed, get onto an income-based repayment plan, and start paying off enough of the loan each month to cover at least the principal, as well as the interest, so that the debt doesn’t keep expanding.
I know that’s a tough pill to swallow, but if you can’t stop the loan from increasing in size, it’s going to get mighty expensive in the long-run.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you’re in a tough spot that’s going to take some serious work to fix.
Tim, I took out loans under similar circumstances. I know the loans were federal but I have no idea what the program was. I know they weren’t Perkins loans and I’m not sure if they were Stafford loans or not but I think they were. The loans were serviced by SalieMae from inception starting around 1994. I moved out of forbearance, consolidated the loan to a 25 year repayment plan and have made every payment since September of 2004. I’ve also been a public sector (state) employee since 2002. I’m having trouble determining if my loans qualify. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program stipulates that “only loans you received under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program are eligible for PSLF.” I’ve never heard of the program and assume it was created concurrent or subsequent to the inception of this program in 2007. Does that mean I am only eligible if I took out the original loans, or consolidated my loans after a certain date?
Additional info, after registering on studentaid.ed.gov I’ve confirmed my original loans were Stafford subsidized and unsubsidized loans. When I reconsolidated in 2004, they became FFE Consolidated Loans. So, based on this info, I understand that the only way I could take advantage of the public service program is if I reconsolidated my current balance into a Federal Direct consolidation loan and made an additional 10 years of payments. Do you interpret my circumstance in the same way?
Hi Again Alan,
Yes, I do read the situation the same as you. Here’s a good explanation from http://www.equaljusticeworks.com:
Contact whoever is servicing your loan and ask them if your loans are eligible for PSLF. They are the only people who can make the call on whether or not you will be eligible for benefits.
I wanted to also add that my consolidated loans are FFELP non subsidized .
I consolidated student loans in the 90’s .
Are the 20 or 25 year forgiveness time frames applicable to people who enroll in IBR or other plans this year or is it retroactive to the original loan date back in the 1990’s ?
What kind of consolidation did you do, and what were your loans (all Federal? all Private? a mix of both?). The Loan Forgiveness Program that everyone is looking at is only for Federally-funded student loans, and currently, does not offer benefits for any loans that were taken out before October 2007, so until that eligibility rule is officially changed, you won’t be able to take advantage of the program.
To answer your specific question about loan forgiveness and retroactive qualification though, no, you would begin making qualifying payments as soon as you enrolled in the right repayment plan. The payments you’ve made up to that point do not count toward your 20 years’ worth of full, scheduled, on-time payments, at least how the law is currently written.
It’s possible that this will change, but this is the current interpretation.
I spoke to a company who charged me to lower my payments saying that I qualify under the loan forgiveness program on the income based repayment plan. My question can I do this myself so that I am not paying someone else to do it and if so where do I go to do this.
Yes! You can do this yourself and save a lot of money in the process!
NONE of the Federally-funded forgiveness or financial assistance programs require any payments, or assistance from third-party companies. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what you need to do, but you can do all of it entirely on your own!
I took out federal student loans in the 1990s. What type of forgiveness do I qualify for?
Once President Obama’s recent proposal is approved and the Government figures out how to configure the Pay As You Earn program for everyone with student loans, you’ll be eligible to enroll in it and work toward receiving total loan forgiveness.
Right now though, there isn’t much available.
What types of Federal loans do you have? If they’re Stafford or Perkins loans, then there are specific loan forgiveness programs for those types of loans, which you can check out here:
I have a few student loans yet the school in which I was attending at the time of the loans sit down before I could compete/graduate.
This was 16yrs ago or so.
Do you know if the government will still relieve me of said loans
It’s possible that you could qualify for a discharge due to school closure, but it depends on some specific circumstances.
Were you an active student, enrolled in courses, within 90 days of the closure? If so, you might be eligible.
I’ll be writing a page about this subject in future weeks, but for now, please refer to the Fed Loan Servicing website for additional details, and good luck!
I work for the governement and I wanted to know if I qualify for student loan forgiveness. My federal loans are in forbearance now that I currently have with Sallie Mae.
Check out our page on the Government Worker Student Loan Forgiveness Program for details.
If you still have questions after reading that page, feel free to ask again and I’ll do my best to help.
I have had my student loan in forbearance several times. My interest has accrued dramatically. I work as a home school tutor not making a lot of money. How would I qualify for loan forgiveness? I believe I do given the nature of my work.
Are your loans private, or federally-funded? If federal, what types of loans are they? When were they taken out? And do you work for a private company, or some sort of non-profit (501c3 organization)?