How to Get Student Loan Forgiveness


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For many students, using student loans to fund college expenses is a common occurrence. According to Forbes, more than half of students leave college with some debt – there is $1.75 trillion in total student loan debt, with $28,950 per borrower on average. Although taking out student loans is unavoidable for many students, having to pay them back is a difficult task for many, putting financial pressure on them. In certain situations, however, federal student loans may be waived, canceled or discharged.

Student loan forgiveness, cancellation and discharge refers to the cancellation of a borrower’s obligation to repay some or all of the remaining principal and interest owed on his or her student loan(s). Cancellation and forgiveness, in general, depend on the borrower’s employment or participation in certain programs, while release refers to certain circumstances the borrower faces. Keep reading for more information on student loan forgiveness and how to get student loan forgiveness if you qualify.

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Student Loan Forgiveness Through Employment

Depending on your job, you may be eligible for student loan forgiveness.

For example, if you are a teacher, you may qualify for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. At a minimum, you must teach full-time for five full, consecutive academic years at a low-income school or educational service agency, and meet other qualifications. If you qualify, you can receive a rebate of up to $17,500 on your subsidized and unsubsidized Direct Loans and your subsidized and unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans.

If you wish to apply for a discount as a teacher, you must submit a completed Teacher Loan Forgiveness Application to your loan officer once you have met the eligibility requirements.

You can also find out about Public Service Debt Forgiveness (PSLF). If you work full-time for a government or non-profit organization, you can qualify for a discount on the remaining balance of your direct loans after making 120 qualifying student loan payments (10 years of payments). To qualify for the PSLF, you must repay your federal student loans under an income-contingent repayment (IDR) plan.

It is important to note that you cannot get credit for Teacher Loan Forgiveness and PSLF in the same period. For example, if you complete your five years of service for teacher loan forgiveness, you will not get the same PSLF credit.

Student loan forgiveness through military service

If you served in the military, you may be eligible for certain benefits and repayment options for your federal student loans, including student loan forgiveness.

Depending on the branch of the military you serve, part of your student loans may be paid by the Department of Defense (DOD). Or, if you have a service-related disability, you may be eligible for student loan discharge.

Defense of the borrower to repayment

If your school has misled you or engaged in other misconduct in violation of certain state laws, you may qualify for a type of student loan forgiveness called “borrower defense.” This type can result in a discharge of some or all of your student loan debt.

If you can demonstrate that your school violated state law relating to your loan or the educational services provided, you can request cancellation of your student loans. If you apply, make sure you have documentation to substantiate why you think you qualify for the borrower’s defense. The US Department of Education has granted $2 billion in student loan forgiveness for this type of student loan forgiveness.

Important Notes to Remember

If you are applying for a student loan forgiveness, cancellation, or release, you may still need to make payments on your loans while your application is reviewed, depending on your situation. If you are unsure, be sure to check with your loan officer to see if you need to continue making payments while your application is reviewed.

Once you get confirmation that your request has been approved, check how much has been forgiven. Although you can hope that the entire balance of your student loans will be forgiven, you may only have obtained part of your application. If so, be sure to continue making payments on the remaining balance. Under certain types of loan release, you may be able to receive a refund on some of the loan payments you have already made against your loan balance.

Student Loan Forgiveness can help ease the financial strain on many students after college, whether they have completed college or not. If these options don’t seem eligible to you, contact your loan servicer to find out what options you can consider, from changing your repayment plan to possibly deferring or forbearing your loan repayments.

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