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How To Qualify For Student Loan Forgiveness

Written by: Jody Adams
Last updated: January 31, 2024

Higher education has become more expensive than ever before, and student loan debt is now one of the largest debt categories in the United States. There’s a total of $1.75 trillion in student debt, with an average of $37,574 per student. 

Many students struggle to repay their loans, and some even fall behind on payments. Fortunately, there are several options available for those who are struggling with student loan debt. One such option is student loan forgiveness. 

This blog explores how to qualify for student loan forgiveness.

Who Qualifies For Student Loan Forgiveness

The most common types of people who qualify for student loan forgiveness are those who work in public service, teaching, or healthcare. If you work in any of these fields, you may be eligible for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness, Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF), or Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program, respectively. Additionally, if you have a disability or you’re a veteran, you may also be eligible for student loan forgiveness.

However, there are also other state and private programs where students who don’t fall in any of the categories above can access student loan forgiveness.

Types of Loans Eligible For Forgiveness

Not all types of student loans are eligible for forgiveness. 

Private Student Loans

Private student loans are not eligible for forgiveness. These loans are offered by private lenders, such as banks, credit unions, or other financial institutions. The terms and conditions of these loans vary depending on the lender. It’s important to note that private student loans usually have higher interest rates than federal student loans.

Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL)

Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) are eligible for forgiveness. These loans were offered by private lenders, but the government guaranteed them. However, the FFEL program ended in 2010, so no new loans are being offered under this program.

Direct Loans

Direct Loans are eligible for forgiveness. These loans are offered directly by the government and come in two types: subsidized and unsubsidized. Subsidized loans are given based on financial need, while unsubsidized loans are given to anyone who meets the basic eligibility criteria.

Perkins Loans

Perkins Loans are another type of federal student loan that is eligible for forgiveness. These loans are awarded to students who demonstrate exceptional financial need. Perkins Loans have a fixed interest rate of 5%.

Federal Consolidation Loans

Federal Consolidation Loans are not a separate type of loan but rather a way to combine multiple federal student loans into one loan. Consolidation can make it easier to manage your loan payments and may also lower your monthly payment. 

However, not all types of federal loans are eligible for consolidation. Only Direct Loans, FFEL loans, and Perkins Loans are eligible for consolidation.

Requirements Needed To Qualify For Student Loan Forgiveness

To qualify for student loan forgiveness, you must meet certain requirements. The requirements vary depending on the type of forgiveness program you’re applying for. 

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

The PSLF forgives the remaining balance on your loan. To qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), you must:

  • Full-time work for a qualified member
  • Make 120 qualifying payments on your Direct Loans while working for a qualifying employer
  • Have a Direct Loan or a consolidated loan if your loan is FFEL or Perkins
  • Be enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan

Check out the PSLF resources on the Federal Student Aid website to learn if you meet the criteria above.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness

This forgiveness program gives up to $17,500 to pay for your student loans. To qualify for Teacher Loan Forgiveness, you must:

  • Work as a teacher for five consecutive years 
  • Have a loan that was disbursed before the end of your five-year teaching service
  • Teach in a low-income school or educational service agency
  • Be a highly qualified teacher
  • Have no outstanding balance on Direct Loans or FFEL Program

Learn about the full requirements on the Teacher Loan Forgiveness page in the FSA website.

Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program

This program repays up to 85% of unpaid nursing education debt. To qualify for the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program, you must:

  • Be a registered nurse, nurse practitioner, or nurse faculty member
  • Work full-time at a designated critical shortage facility or as a nurse faculty member at a nursing school
  • Have outstanding qualifying educational loans
  • Agree to work at the designated facility or school for at least two years

In other instances, your student debt can be forgiven if you’ve suffered from a total and permanent disability, the school you’re enrolled in closed, there were some suspicious circumstances surrounding the loan, and in the event of your death. The FSA website has a complete list of scenarios when a student loan can be forgiven.

It’s easy to think you’re drowning in student debt, but there’s hope. You can qualify for student loan forgiveness and say goodbye to those stressful monthly loan payments. If you don’t qualify, you can always seek out other programs that will pay a portion of your student loan, usually in exchange for years of service.

Learn about government grants that can help you pay for student loans in our blog.

If you want to learn more about Pell Grant forgiveness, visit our blog about it to learn more.

Jody Adams
Jody Adams is an accomplished editor-in-chief with a deep understanding of social care and government benefits issues. With a background in journalism and a master's degree in Public Policy, Jody has spent her career shaping the narrative around social policies and their impact on society. She has worked with renowned publications, effectively bridging the gap between complex policy analysis and public understanding. Jody's editorial expertise ensures that vital information on social care and government benefits reaches a broad audience, empowering individuals to make informed decisions.
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