Student loan forgiveness enables student loan borrowers to be released from their obligation to pay the remaining balance of their student loans by meeting certain employment and repayment qualifications. However, it is important to note that student loan forgiveness only applies to federal direct loans, not private loans.
If you’ve asked yourself how to get student loans forgiven, here are some options you can consider:
Public Service Loan Forgiveness
Public service loan forgiveness (PSLF) is a program that can forgive student loans if the borrower pursues a full-time career in not-for-profit organizations or a career in federal, state, local, or tribal governments. With PSLF, you must make 120 qualifying monthly payments, though these payments don’t necessarily have to be done consecutively. It will take 10 years to be able to successfully make the 120 qualifying payments, though the remaining balance will be forgiven (tax-free).
The PSLF program recognizes full-time employment to mean that you’re working at least 30 hours a week, or a combined average of 30 hours a week if you’re holding various part-time public sector jobs.
To be eligible for PSLF, your employer must meet the following criteria:
- Government organizations at any federal, state, local, or tribal level
- Not-for-profit organizations that are exempt from taxes according to Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code
- Non-tax-exempt not-for-profit organizations that provide certain types of qualifying public services
- AmeriCorps or Peace Corps (if you’re rendering volunteer work)
It's also important to note the type of loans eligible for PSLF are federal direct loans, also referred to as Stafford loans and federal direct consolidation loans.
Income-Driven Repayment Forgiveness
Another option to forgive student loans is by entering into an income-driven repayment (IDR). This approach takes longer than PSLF as it can extend from 20 to 25 years before the remaining balance of student loans is forgiven. Since an IDR plan caps your monthly payments based on your discretionary income and family size, this is a good option for those who don't qualify for PSLF and have a high debt amount relevant to their income.
Four IDR plans are offered by the federal government:
- Income-Based Repayment (IBR)
- Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)
- Pay As You Earn (PAYE)
- Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)
Read more about each of these plans as well as which plan may be best for you, here.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness
This program is only available to teachers who have taught in low-income educational agencies or low-income public elementary or secondary schools full-time for at least five consecutive academic years. As much as $17,500 in loan forgiveness can be used by teachers of specific subject areas such as math, science, or special education. Title 1 teachers of other subjects only qualify for $5,000 in student loan forgiveness.
Eligible loan types for this program include federal direct loans, federal direct consolidation loans, as well as FFEL loans, and FFEL consolidation loans. Although some limitations do apply. Be sure to link your loans with Chipper to discover if your loans qualify for forgiveness!
Student Loan Forgiveness for Healthcare Professionals
Pursuing a course in medicine can cause students to rack up a huge amount of debt, but fortunately, there are student loan forgiveness programs that can specifically apply to those who have chosen careers in healthcare.
Some options healthcare professionals can choose to reduce their student loan debt include the following:
- National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program: The NHSC can forgive as much as $100,000 in student loan debt if healthcare professionals perform volunteer work for two to three years in areas that have a shortage of health professionals.
- National Institutes of Health Program: Medical students who complete medical research on certain topics like contraception and medical disparities can benefit from as much as $50,000 in student loan forgiveness from the NIH.
- Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program: Registered nurses, advanced practice registered nurses, and nurse faculty may receive student loan forgiveness for as much as 85% of their student loan debt if they work for two years either in a critical shortage facility or an eligible nursing school as part of the nurse faculty.
Explore Your Forgiveness Options
The programs discussed above are just some of the available options for student loan forgiveness. The most inclusive approach is perhaps the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program since its basic requirement is for student borrowers to pursue a career in public service. Depending on your chosen career, there are other student loan forgiveness programs available, and all you have to do is explore your options to see if you’re qualified, or which program would work best for your situation.