Student Loan Forgiveness

Would you like to finally say goodbye to your student loans? As much as we all want them to vanish forever, there are plenty of opportunities for them to be excused.

Sure, there are plenty of student loan forgiveness websites out there that claim to be able to totally erase your student debt. The truth is that most of these websites claiming to offer student loan forgiveness are generally scams, some even request upfront payment from you before helping to lower your student debt.

I can assure you that you aren’t the only one looking for ways to pay off your debt. One of the best ways to do so is by looking into the possibility of student loan forgiveness. Through this guide, we will provide you with the ultimate list of student loan forgiveness programs.

1)Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Public Service Loan Forgiveness, also known as PSLF is a loan program that helps people who work in the public section. One of the biggest benefits of this program is the fact that your job does not matter as much as where you work will. What this means for you is that there may be a better opportunity to qualify for this program.

One of the biggest benefits here is that after 120 student loan payments, you may be able to qualify for 100 percent student loan forgiveness. Not that bad of an option if you have mounds of student loan debt.

Who qualifies as eligible?

As with all of the programs talked about below, you will need to qualify and unfortunately, some of you may have yet to qualify. For this particular program, you will need to meet the following criteria: you must work as a full-time employee for one of the following branches of government; State, Federal, or Local Government. Businesses that currently hold a 501(c)(3) also qualify per PSLF’s guidelines.

Which loans are eligible:

  • Direct PLUS
  • Direct Consolidation
  • Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized

* As a side note, if you currently have Federal Perkins Loans and/or Family Education Loans (FFEL), these loans are only eligible for PSLF if you at first go through the student loan consolidation process via a Direct Consolidation Loan.

Requirements:

  • At least 120 payments paid towards loans. These payments must have been on time.
  • Must be a full-time employee at one of the organizations by the state, local or government agencies
  • All loan payments must have been made through one of the following repayment options;
    • Pay As You Earn Repayment (PAYE)
    • Income-Based Repayment (IBR)
    • Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)
    • Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)
    • Standard Repayment (SR)

* As a side note, we tend to see that most borrowers choose to go the income-driven repayment route as this plan will allow for you to maximize the amount of debt that you may be able to have forgiven while also lowering your monthly payments.

What do I need to do in order to become eligible?

In order to make sure you qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), you will need to submit the following form know as the Employment Certification for Public Service Loan Forgiveness form. You will need to submit this form every year and in doing this you will have the proper documentation to prove that you have been doing the designated job for the required amount of time.

Along with this form, we highly recommend that you switch your current loan payments to an income-driven repayment plan. You will want to do this as it will help you to get a lower monthly payment for the time being while also stretching out your loan repayment term to 20 or even 25 years. If you were to stay on your current plan, you would have the possibility of having no student loan debt at the end of the term.

Lastly, you may want to look into consolidating your student loans into one more manageable monthly payment. you can generally do this via a  Direct Consolidation Loan. You can use our Student Loan Consolidation Calculator to get a better idea in regards to what consolidating your student loans may look like. Students who currently have Perkins or FFEL Loans may get the most benefit from loan consolidation.

How do I apply for Public Service Loan Forgiveness?

  1. Complete and submit the required Employment Certification Form. As stated earlier you will need to submit this every year for your records and in the case of job changes.
  2. The FedLoan Servicing sector will take a look at all of your information in order to see if you qualify for their program. Within the review process, you may be asked to submit financial statements such as w-2s, work history, pay stubs, and other historical documentation.
  3. Once FedLoan has approved you for their program, they will provide you with how many payments you have made in the past qualify for PSLF. They will also provide you with how many additional payments will need to be made in order for you to fully qualify for student loan forgiveness.

This image is used in a blog post to help display options that pertain to student loan forgiveness.

2) Forgiveness with (IBR) Income Based Payment

You’re probably wondering if you too can get your payments forgiven through Income-Based Repayment (IBR). The simple answer to this question is yes. IBR is not really the typical program that you would think in terms of Student Loan Forgiveness, however, there are some key benefits that may just change your mind.

With IBR, you tend to see you student loan payments capped based on your income. When this means is that in most cases you will see your student loans capped at a 10 to 15 percent rate of your total income. Upon converting to an IBR loan repayment plan you will have the ability for these student loans to be forgiven so long as you make consistent payments for 20 to 25 years depending on the terms and conditions of the loan when you borrowed.

Regarding the tax implications offered by this repayment program, under current tax laws, loans that may be forgiven under this program may and often times will be taxed as income.  This is something you will want to consider especially come tax season as you may have a higher tax bill than you are normally used to.

Who qualifies as eligible?

In order to be eligible for the Income-Based Repayment play, the payments what you make through IBR must be lower the payments you would be making under a standard repayment plan. A good way to look at this is if you have a large amount of debt compared to your income, you are more then likely good to go.

Loan Qualifications:

  • Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized
  • Direct Grad PLUS
  • Subsidized and Unsubsidized FFEL Stafford
  • FFEL PLUS grad student loans
  • Federal Perkins
  • Direct Consolidation
    • Side Note* – Direct Consolidation Loans will work, however in the event that they repaid FFEL Loans or Parent PLUS Loans you may not qualify. Check with your IBR provider to find out more information.

Requirements:

In order for you to qualify for Income-Based Repayment, borrowers must make payments on a consistent basis for 20 to 25 years depending on the loan servicer. One thing to note in regards to IBR is that you will need to let the loan servicer as your income increases. In addition to this, IBR is great for borrowers who may stay in a lower-paying field but at the same time have a higher debt load. Generally, this will be something to consider when deciding whether or not IBR is the right plan for you.

How to apply:

Applying for Income-Based Repayment is quite easy, and just takes a few simple steps through an online form. You can submit your application for IBR here. If you would rather fill out a more traditional paper application, you can, however, you will need to reach out to your loan servicer to do so. Whichever application form you decide to go with, you may be required to provide additional documentation such as tax returns, proof of income, and other financial documents.

3) (PAYE) Pay As You Earn Loan Forgiveness

Pay As You Earn in many ways is similar to the previous loan forgiveness option we talked about with Income-Based Repayment. They are similar in the manner that IBR like PAYE is not a typical forgiveness plan that many people think about however, you are eligible for student loan forgiveness

With the Pay As You Earn program, your monthly payment is capped at 10 percent of your income. This allows you to know exactly how much is able to be taken out every month for your monthly payments on your loan. Through PAYE, you will need to make payments consistently for 20 years. After that time the remaining balance will be eligible for forgiveness.

* Please note that the PAYE program is treated identically to the IBR program in terms of any forbidden balance will be treated as income that is taxable.

Who qualifies as eligible?

In order to qualify under the PAYE payments program, the payments that you are making must be under that of a standard 10-year repayment plan.

Loan Qualifications:

  • Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans
  • Direct Grad PLUS loans
  • Subsidized and Unsubsidized FFEL Stafford (if consolidated)
  • Federal Perkins (if consolidated)
  • Direct Consolidation Loans (Unless repaid via FFEL Loans or Parent PLUS Loans)

Requirements:

The only requirement for PAYE Loans is that you have to make consistent payments for 20 years that will, in turn, you will be considered for student loan forgiveness. You will want to consider that the payments that you make will be based on family size and income. Below you will find the key dates that will be important for you to qualify for PAYE Loan Forgiveness.

Key Dates:

In order to qualify for this program:

  • Must be a new borrower on or after October 1st, 2007.
  • The Direct Loan Disbursement must have occurred on or after October 1st, 2011.

* In the case that you do not meet both of these requirements you will not be eligible for this Student Loan Forgiveness Option.

Apply:

In order to apply for this program, you will be required to complete an online application that you can find here. Throughout this application, you will be required to send in documents such as income statements, tax returns, and other financial documents.

4) (REPAYE) Revised Pay As You Earn Student Loan Forgiveness

Revised Pay As You Earn is very similar to the previous student loan forgiveness option we talked to you about in step three known as Pay As You Earn(PAYE). In this plan, similar to in the PAYE plan, your student loan payments are capped at 10 percent of your income.

RAPYE Keys:

  • Undergraduate loans have the ability to be forgiven after 20 years of on-time payment
  • Graduate loans have the ability to be forgiven after 25 years of on-time payment

Unlike the two previous plans, we were talking about, being IBR & PAYE respectively, one of the key benefits to using the REPAYE system is that there is no income requirement in order to qualify for this loan. Effectively anyone with an eligible student loan will qualify for this program.

Who qualifies as eligible?

Students who are currently paying for federal student loans will qualify for REPAYE. As always, check with your loan servicer to see if you qualify.

Loan Qualifications:

  • Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans
  • Direct Grad PLUS loans
  • FFEL Stafford Loans (if currently consolidated)
  • FFEL PLUS Loans made to grad students (if consolidated)
  • Federal Perkins Loans (if consolidated)
  • Direct Consolidation Loans(Unless repaid via FFEL Loans or Parent PLUS Loans)

Requirements:

The requirements for REPAYE are rather simple and straightforward. You must make consistent payments for 20 years if you have an undergraduate degree and for anyone with a graduate degree, you will need to make those same consistent payments for 25 years. If you have or are in the process of completing this, you are on the right track.

Apply:

In regards to your application, you will apply very similarly to the two previous repayment options IBR & PAYE. To apply, simply go to the following link: StudentLoans.gov and fill out an application. One thing to note is that you will want to have your financial statements ready as you will be asked to upload these documents as proof. This proof may require financial documents such as proof of income and proof of employment. Keep this in mind when getting ready to apply.

This image is used in a blog post to help display options that pertain to student loan forgiveness.

5) (ICR) Income-Contingent Repayment Student Loan Forgiveness

When choosing an Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) plan, you have two options in terms of repayment. These payments options, similar to the last few options we have covered also pertain to your income.  The first option pertains to your discretionary income in which you would have to pay 20% of or you would have the option to on a fixed loan over the course of 12 years. In either case, the option with the lowest overall payment will be the option selected.

There are a few things that you may want to consider when you choose the ICR plan. For starters, the ICR program may not lower your payments as much as you would like, or for that matter as much as other plans. Don’t let this discourage you though, while the lowest payment option may be something you are looking for, the ICR program has one benefit that may make it worth your while. Through ICR, you do have the ability to apply for this program if you have Parent PLUS Student Loans. This is something that separates ICR from other income-repayment programs as this is the only repayment program that works with Parent PLUS Loans. Consider the loan if Parent PLUS is the option you are looking for in terms of Student Loan Forgiveness.

Like the previous loans we have covered, you will need to make a consecutive number of payments in order to qualify for full student loan forgiveness. With the ICR Student Loan Forgiveness, you will need to pay your student loans for 25 years with on-time payments.

Who qualifies as eligible?

Eligible federal student loans qualifies.

Loan Qualifications:

  • Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Student Loans
  • Direct PLUS  Student Loans (Made by grad students)
  • Direct Consolidation Student Loans
  • FFEL Stafford Loans (if currently consolidated)
  • FFEL PLUS Loans made to grad students (if consolidated)
  • Federal Perkins Loans (if consolidated)
  • Parent PLUS Student Loans (if consolidated)

Requirements:

With the ICR Program, anyone with eligible federal student loans can apply. As always you will want to reach out to your loan servicer for more information.

Apply:

In order to apply, you will need to fill out an application online or mail it in. You can submit an application through the StudentLoans.gov link here. You may be required to submit additional items such as income statements and proof of employment among other financial documents. In any event, you can always reach out to your loan servicer for more information.

6) Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation

The Federal Perkins Student Loan Cancellation Program offers a plethora of benefits that you may not find in other student loan forgiveness programs. Within the Perkins program, you can qualify for loan cancellation in a few different ways, so long as you took out a Federal Perkins Loan. This program offers the potential to forgive a certain percentage of student debt each year in which you meet the requirements of their loan. Upon meeting the requirements, you may be able to get up to 100 percent of your Perkins Loan canceled (whipped out).

Who qualifies as eligible?

With the Federal Perkins Loan, teachers are among some of the best candidates, however, the program is popular among many in the education sector altogether. The reason that this is so popular in that field is that many of these people qualify rather easily.

Many other people in the public sector may qualify as well. Some common other occupations include but are by no means limited to the fields of Police officers, firefighters, other law enforcement personnel, nurses, some service volunteers, state workers, public defenders and much more. Also, in some cases, if you are a member of the military or currently in the military you may also qualify. If you have any questions regarding what is needed in order to qualify for this program please reach out to your loan servicer.

Requirements:

In order to qualify for the Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation Program, you will need to meet a few criteria. The criteria that you will need to fulfill is the following; You must have a federal level Perkins Loan. You must also work in a profession that qualifies within the guidelines of the Federal Perkins Loan. One thing to note is that most of the students who are involved in this program typically work full-time for at least a year. Additionally, you may be able to qualify with varying other requirements, however, this program is known to work with people who are working in areas where there is currently a critical shortage or high-needs areas. Keep this in mind when applying for this program as it may just help you land the student loan forgiveness you are looking for.

Apply:

In order to apply for the Perkins Loan Cancellation program, you will need to speak with the loan servicer. It is also a good idea if you have further questions regarding this program to reach out to your school’s student loan office or finance department.

This image is used on our ultimate student loan forgiveness page as a way of showcasing a classroom where a student is teaching.

7) Teachers loan forgiveness

The Teachers Student Loan Forgiveness Program offers opportunities for teachers across this country the ability to help pay back their student loans. This program requires that you work five or more consecutive years in a qualifying school in order to be eligible.

This programs loan forgiveness amounts will vary depending on the subject in which you teach. Don’t let this discourage you though, as any help on your student loans is a step in the right direction. From the data we have looked at, most elementary level teachers receive up to $5,000 while secondary school teachers who teach the subjects of math, science or special education may receive up to $17,500 in student loan forgiveness. If you are a teacher, you should really look into this program as any type of forgiveness is a great step closer to paying off your student loans.

Loan Eligibility:

  • Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Direct Student Loans
  • Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Student Loans

* As a side note, any form of PLUS Loans (such as a Parent PLUS Loan) is not eligible for the Teacher-Student Loan Forgiveness program.

Requirements:

When inquiring about the Teachers Student Loan Forgiveness Program, there are a few requirements that you will need to meet in order to be eligible to apply.

  • Teach within the qualifying organization (including; elementary, secondary schools, education service agencies for low-income students, etc.)
  • Work full time 5 years as a teacher
  • No loans in default
  • No loans that originated before October 1st, 1998.
  • Highly qualified teachers (State cert and/or a teaching license)

Apply:

Applying to Teachers Loan Forgiveness is a simple process but you will need to meet some qualifications before you are able to apply. The minimum threshold is teaching for five years. Once you have hit this requirement, you can complete a Teacher-Student Loan Forgiveness Application. Once this has been completed you will want to reach out to the company who processes your student loans and send it to them.

Student Loan Repayment Assistance for teachers:

While this program is not the only option for teachers, there are many other programs that are on the local state level in which you may find some success. Many of these programs will require that the teachers have a state-required license. One of the main benefits to these state-run programs is that the barrier of entry may not be as high. For example, some of these programs only require two years as a teacher in qualified teaching areas. Consider both local and nationwide options when looking for student loan forgiveness as a teacher.

8) Nurse Loan Forgiveness

As with our various other programs, nurses have a number of programs designed to help them on the state and federal level. The current program that we are going to talk about is available to nurses across the nation.

NURSE Corps repayment program

One of the best ways to qualify for this program is to work in an underserved community. This does not guarantee that you will be accepted into this program, however, it does drastically increase the chances of making it in. Through this program, you may be able to get up to 60 percent of your student loans paid for so long as you meet the two years of employment threshold. In the event that you work an additional year (third year total), you may qualify for another 25 percent reduction in your student loans. Not too shabby to consider the possibility of having 75 percent total student loan debt removed from your account as a nurse or practitioner.

Requirements:

In order to qualify for the Nurse Student Loan Forgiveness Program, you must qualify with one of the following offerings;

  • Must be registered Nurse
  • Must be a registered Practitioner
  • Must serve high needs population
  • Must serve in a critical shortage area
  • Must have attended an accredited nursing school

Apply:

In order to apply to this program, you will need to check out the program requirements and guidelines prior to applying. For this program, applications are accepted one time per year and generally the guidelines in order to qualify may change from year to year. You will want to make sure that you turn your application in on time in order to be considered for this program.

9) Repayment assistance for doctors/healthcare professionals

The NHSC Program (National Health Service Corps loan repayment assistance) awards medical professionals up to $50,000. In order to qualify for this program, you will need to be a dentist, doctor, or a behavioral or mental clinician. In order to qualify for the student loan forgiveness program, you must also commit to two years of work at an NHSC eligible.

Students to the Service Program

While the NHSC Program may not work for everyone, there are quite a few other programs that you may want to look into. One of these programs is known as the Student to Service Program. Within this program, you have the potential to get up to $120,000 worth of student loan debt forgiven. In order to fully qualify for this service, you will need to work with a primary health care provider and you must also work at a provider approved site for three years.

Indian Health Services Loan Repayment Program

The Indian Health Services also known as the IHS Loan Repayment Program is designed to encourage current doctors who practice in both American Indian and Alaskan Native communities. Within this program, you will need to commit to a minimum of two years of service within the industry. Upon completing the required two-year commitment, the program has the ability to repay up to $40,000 worth of your student loans. This is definitely one of the more niche student loan forgiveness repayment options.

National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Program

The National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Program, also commonly referred to as the NIH Program. This program offers aid to students in the healthcare profession who are focusing on research. In order for you to fully qualify for this program, you will need to commit to researching with a qualifying nonprofit. Upon qualifying and completing the required requisitions, this program will repay up to $35,000 of your student loans.

Armed Forces loan forgiveness

The Armed Forces are known to offer a number of different options for student loan forgiveness and repayment, specifically but not limited to healthcare professionals. Within the Armed Services, Amy Doctors may qualify for up to $120,000 in student loan repayment through the Active Duty Health Professions program. While also under the Armed Services umbrella, the Navy also offers financial assistance in the form of repayment to qualified students. Through the Navy Financial Assistance Program, qualified applicants may qualify for up to $275,000 in loan assistance.

State Specific LARP Programs for doctors and other healthcare professionals

From the above-listed programs, you can see that there are quite a few offerings that are on a nationwide scale. Budon’tnt think for a second that these are the only programs that are offered. In many cases, you can find state-level programs that fit your needs just fine.

A great example of this is shown in the Massachusetts Student loan Forgiveness program. In this program, you have the ability to be rewarded with upwards of $50,000 for qualifying healthcare professionals who worked in shortage areas where medical professionals are needed the most. This is just one of the countless other examples that are found through the state level. Check your state and local governments website for more information regarding these programs.

10) Loan repayment options for lawyers and attorneys

Most of us have an understanding that law school is not cheap. In many cases, you can find yourself in the hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt shortly after starting your journey to enter the field. Fortunately for some attorneys, you may qualify for student loan repayment assistance. If you are aspiring to be a lawyer or attorney and concerned about the vast costs of schooling, you are in luck. Not only do most lawyers have assistance available from both state and national levels but they also in some cases may be able to have their former alumni help out in regards to their student loans. Check out some of these great programs offered below:

Student Loan Repayment Program for an Attorney for the Department of Justice

In order to qualify for this program, you would need to work for the Department of Justice for a minimum of three years. In doing so, you may qualify for up to $60,000 in student loan assistance. The one prerequisite is that you have at least $10,000 in federal student loans taken out.

Student Loan Repayment Program with John R. Justice

If you are a lawyer in the public sector, you may want to look into the John R. Justice student loan program. Within this program, you may qualify for up to $10,000 per year in terms of student loan repayment. This program will max out at $60,000 with 6 total years of service as a public defender. You must be a public defender in order to qualify for this program.

Student Loan Repayment Assistance Program with Herbert S. Garten

Through the Herbert S. Garten program, you have the opportunity of up to $5,600 of your student debt repayment. This system is a complete lottery and thus there is no advantage other than being employed by a qualifying organization. With that in mind, it still does not hurt to submit an application to see if you may be drawn in the lottery. There are a total of 70 applicants chosen each year. While you may think of this option as a shot in the dark, it doesn’t hurt to submit an application. You never know what could happen!

State and University Run Sponsored LRAPs

As you have seen with some of our previous student loan forgiveness programs, there is generally a program for virtually every career choice you can imagine. In this section, we are focusing specifically on lawyers and the options they have for student loan forgiveness. In some cases, there are state and/or government funded programs that are geared towards helping these defenders pay back some of their student loan debt. Check with your local state level government to see their offerings.

Another great place to see about some of these programs is your university. For example, the University of Virginia Law School, which offers a student loan debt forgiveness program to students who make less than $55,000 per year. You may think that being a lawyer and making $55,000 per year is quite low in the space, but the school hopes to push some of its law students to work or at least start off their law career in the public service sector and move on from there.

There are countless other programs offered like the ones you have seen above that may provide substantial assistance in paying off your student loan debt as a lawyer. Hopefully, these options we have played out will give you a good idea of what direction to go moving forward as you look to pay off your student loans.

This image is used in a blog post to help display options that pertain to student loan forgiveness.

11) Loan Repayment Assistance Programs for Different Careers

Throughout this post, we have highlighted some of the biggest and best student loan repayment programs in the space. While you may think that these forgiveness options are only focused towards people in the public section, you may be surprised to find quite the opposite. While there are tons of programs for people who are doctors, teachers, and lawyers, there may also be student loan forgiveness program for your career.

In fact, most state and local level governments have quite an extensive list of student loan forgiveness offerings. Be sure to check with your local government’s website to see all of the offerings. These programs will as each program may require a different amount of time needed to be devoted to the program in order for you to qualify.

This image is used on our ultimate student loan forgiveness page as a way of showcasing a classroom where a student is teaching.

12) Student Loan Forgiveness and Assistance for the Military

Many branches of the military offer the ability for you that qualify for student loan forgiveness or assistance. These programs are not just focused on nurses and doctors in their respective fields, but they also have offerings for veterans and other armed forces members. The following branches will have options through the student loan repayment assistance programs; The Army, The Navy, The Air Force, and The National Guard.

There are three programs that I am going to highlight through this program.

Army

Within the Army, they offer an Army College Loan Repayment Program. Within this program, they help to cover one-third of your loans every year for up to three years. At the end of the three years, you may be able to have up to $65,000 worth of student loan aid.

Navy

Similar to the Army, the Navy also offers a program that offers financial assistance. Through the Navy Program, you may be eligible to have up to $65,000 worth of your student loans paid off.

National Guard LRAP

Finally, as with both the Navy and Army programs, the National Guard also has a program. With this program, you may qualify for contributions up to $50,000 towards paying off your student loans.

13) Special Circumstances Student Loan Discharge

Did you know that in a few rare circumstances you may qualify to have your student loans discharged? This means that you may be debt free from your student loans if one of the below options has happened to you. If you do happen to have one of the below options, you may qualify to have your student loans canceled outright, meaning you no longer need to pay.

The qualifying options are as follows:

  • Borrower Defense Discharge
  • Unpaid Refund Discharge
  • Discharge for unauthorized payment
  • Discharge for False Certification (fake or falsified degree)
  • Loan Cancellation for Total or Permanent Disability
  • Student Loan Discharge in Bankruptcy
  • Closed School Discharge (School Closure)

To learn more about the above-highlighted options, feel free to check out if you may qualify through the Federal Student Aid website. As always, if you think you may qualify for one of these options, you will want to reach out to your student loan servicers for more information.

14) Other Choices for Managing your Student Loans

While not everyone will qualify for student loan forgiveness, there are some additional options you may want to look into in regards to your student loans.  If you are struggling to make some of your student loan payments, you may be able to combat your student loans a few different ways. This would include

At the end of the day, you have many options when it comes to paying off your student loans. Don’t feel like you have to stay with your original payment plan. THere are many companies and services out there that will enable you to lower your interest rate, have the opportunity to qualify for student loan forgiveness, refinance your student loans, and even consolidate those loans into one more manageable singular loan. Whatever the choice you end up going with, just remember you are that much closer to paying off your student loans and becoming debt free.

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