You can get rid of all or some of your student loans through a student loan forgiveness program in certain circumstances. It sounds too good to be true, but there are legitimate ways to acquire it through federal government programs.
Student loan forgiveness can save you from years of loan repayments and get the income you need to invest in your future. You can be eligible for the forgiveness program depending on your current occupation or college degree.
There are over 80 forgiveness programs that can forgive your student loan debts. But the options presented in this guide are the ten prevalent ways to get your debts forgiven.
Keep in mind that the following methods are available only to student borrowers with federal student loans.
1) Income-Driven Repayment Forgiveness
There are four primary income-driven repayment plans that the federal government offers:
- IBR plan
- REPAYE plan
- PAYE plan
- ICR plan
These plans allow you to cap your student loan payments at a percentage of your income every month. When you sign up for one of these repayment plans, you can qualify for loan forgiveness after 20 or 25 years, depending on the plan you choose.
In other words, whatever loan balance left after 20 or 25 years will be eligible for forgiveness. These plans are beneficial, especially if you have a massive loan balance compared to your income.
According to the National Consumer Law Center, only 32 borrowers have acquired loan forgiveness through the income-driven repayment plan. The federal authorities made it tax-free retroactive to December 2020 through the end of 2025. It falls part of the March 2021 American Rescue Plan.
However, most student loan borrowers will not be eligible for forgiveness through the income-driven repayment plan until the early beginning of 2030.
2) Public Service Loan Forgiveness
If you are a government or a non-profit employee, you can qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). You can have your outstanding loan balance forgiven after completing 120 qualifying loan payments. And you get free tax tossed in there as well.
However, before you qualify for the PSLF, you need to be enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan. Otherwise, the loan debt would be paid off on a standard repayment plan before you qualify to benefit from the forgiveness.
As of November 2020, only 2% of borrowers have qualified for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
3) Student Loan Forgiveness For Nurses
Nurses with massive student loan debts have several alternatives for student loan forgiveness:
- Perkins Loan Cancellation
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness
- NURSE CLRP
These forgiveness programs pay to a maximum of 85% of nurses with unpaid student debt. If you are a nurse, the PSLF may be the ideal option for you. That’s because few people have Perkins Loans, and the NURSE Corps program is very competitive. However, it does not mean you cannot try or that you cannot qualify.
4) Teacher Loan Forgiveness
Full-time teachers employed in a low-income secondary or public elementary school may qualify for Teacher Loan Forgiveness. But that is after they have worked for five consecutive years. Teachers can get a cap of $17,500 in Stafford loans or federal direct forgiven. For you to be eligible, you must have taken student loans after October 1, 1998.
5) State-Sponsored Repayment Assistance Programs
If you are a nurse, teacher, lawyer, or doctor in certain states, you can enroll in programs that aid in repaying student debt. For example, the Mississippi Teacher Loan Repayment Program pays a maximum of $3,000 each year.
However, you need to have at least four years of undergraduate education teacher loans with a specific teaching license each year. And you also need to be a full-time teacher teaching in a particular subject or geographical area.
6) Military Student Loan Forgiveness And Assistance
Military members in the Navy, Army, National Guard, Air Force, and Coast Guard can be eligible for their loan forgiveness programs. For example, in the National Guard, officers and soldiers that qualify could get up to $50,000 to clear off their federal student loans via the Student Loan Repayment Program.
7) Other Student Loan Repayment Assistance Programs
There can be other organizational or national loan repayment assistance programs that public service personnel can benefit from.
For example, the National Institutes of Health gives up to a maximum of $35,000 in loan debt assistance every year to health professionals. This assistance is offered to health professionals appointed by the institutes to carry out research.
The American Bar Association also offers state LRAPs for lawyers.
8) Perkins Loan Cancellation
If you have federal Perkins Loans, you can have all of your student debt 100% canceled. However, you will have to work in the public service occupation for five years. In most cases, qualified, you will see a percentage of your debt canceled incrementally for every year worked.
There are Perkins Loans for teachers, but you will have to work full-time in a low-income public school. Another way is to teach qualifying subjects such as math, special education, science, or a foreign language.
9) Closed School Discharge
You can be eligible for a loan discharge if your school closes down. However, when the institution closed, you must have been enrolled or had quit within 120 days without getting a degree.
If you think you qualify, you can get in touch with your loan servicer to begin the application process. If you get approved, you will not have to make payments, and you can be refunded with all or some of the previous payments you made on the student loan.
10) Obama Student Loan Forgiveness
Red flag alert! Obama student loan forgiveness does not exist. There is no such thing. However, some so-called student debt relief firms use it as a catchphrase for free federal programs. And these companies charge borrowers to sign up.
If you come across a debt relief company that seeks to offer you Obama student loan forgiveness, consider it as a red flag. Enrolling in federal programs such as federal loan consolidation and income-based repayment is free. And you can do it yourself through the Department of Education.
Remember that legitimate federal student loan forgiveness is free through the federal Education Department. But you have to consider other costs as well. You also have to beware of scams.
Numerous agencies claim they can get rid of your debt but rarely deliver tangible results. That is after they have charged excessive upfront fees. Of course, there are legitimate debt-relief agencies that can help you. However, before you proceed, you need to do your research.