Student Loan Forgiveness (and Other Ways the Government Can Help You Repay Your Loans)

Loan Repayment7 minutes

The Supreme Court blocked the one-time debt relief plan (you may also know this as the forgiveness of up to $20,000 for Pell Grant borrowers). But you may be able to get help repaying your loans, including full loan forgiveness, through other federal student loan programs.

You never know what you may be eligible for, so take a look at the options listed below.

1

Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Forgiveness

An IDR plan bases your monthly payment on your income and family size. If you repay your loans under an IDR plan, any remaining balance on your student loans will be forgiven after you make a certain number of payments over 20 or 25 years—or as few as 10 years under our newest IDR plan, the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) Plan.

Use Loan Simulator to compare plans, estimate monthly payment amounts, and see if you’re eligible for IDR loan forgiveness.

Your loan forgiveness timeline and monthly payment amount depend on which IDR plan you’re eligible to choose from. The SAVE Plan includes additional forgiveness benefits that will go into effect in February and July 2024.

See below for a quick comparison of the plans. Ready to apply? Apply for an IDR plan now.

Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) – formerly the REPAYE Plan Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)
When can I receive forgiveness?

After 20 years of qualifying repayment, if all your loans were taken out for undergraduate study

After 25 years of qualifying repayment, if any of your loans were taken out for graduate study

Additional changes to SAVE coming February and July 2024

After 20 years of qualifying repayment

After 20 years of qualifying repayment if you’re a new borrower on or after July 1, 2014

After 25 years of qualifying repayment if you’re not a new borrower on or after July 1, 2014

After 25 years of qualifying repayment
Which Loans Qualify?
  • Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans
  • Direct PLUS Loans made to graduate or professional students
  • Direct Consolidation Loans that do not include a PLUS loans made to parents
  • Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans
  • Direct PLUS Loans made to graduate or professional students
  • Direct Consolidation Loans that do not include a PLUS loans made to parents
  • Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans
  • Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans (from the FFEL Program)
  • Direct PLUS Loans and FFEL PLUS
  • Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans
  • Direct PLUS Loans made to graduate or professional students
  • Direct Consolidation Loans that did not repay any PLUS loans made to parents
How much forgiveness can I get? Under all four plans, any remaining loan balance is forgiven if your federal student loans aren’t fully repaid at the end of the repayment period. There is no limit on how much forgiveness you receive as long as you meet the requirements.
How do I apply? If you’d like to repay your federal student loans under an income-driven plan, you need to fill out an application. Apply today at StudentAid.gov/idr

Due to the payment count adjustment, past periods of repayment, deferment, and forbearance might now count toward your IDR forgiveness.

Borrowers with certain non-Direct Loans will need to act by April 30, 2024, to benefit from this adjustment.

Learn about the payment count adjustment and any actions you should take.

2

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

If you work full time for a government or nonprofit organization, you may qualify for forgiveness of the entire remaining balance of your Direct Loans after you’ve made 120 qualifying payments—i.e., 10 years of payments. To benefit from PSLF, you need to repay your federal student loans under an IDR plan.

New to PSLF? Check out our 4 beginner tips for PSLF success.

If you’re interested in PSLF, use the PSLF Help Tool to apply.

If you have certain non-Direct Loans, you can get additional credit toward PSLF payments if you consolidate by the end of 2023.  Learn about the payment count adjustment for more info.

3

School-related Discharge Options

Borrower defense to repayment is a legal ground for discharging federal Direct Loans. Borrowers apply for borrower defense if they believe their school misled them or lied to them about something central to their decision to enroll and take out loans. If you think your situation qualifies for borrower defense, submit a borrower defense application.

Another form of school-related discharge is closed school discharge. If your school closes while you’re enrolled or soon after you withdraw, you may be eligible for discharge of your federal student loan if you meet certain requirements.

4

Teacher Loan Forgiveness

You may be eligible for forgiveness of up to $17,500 if you teach full time for five complete and consecutive academic years in certain elementary or secondary schools or educational service agencies that serve low-income families, and if you meet other qualifications. Get details about Teacher Loan Forgiveness.

Remember, you may not receive a benefit under both the TLF Program and the PSLF Program for the same period of teaching service.

For more resources for teachers, check out our article, “4 Loan Forgiveness Programs for Teachers.”

5

Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) Discharge

To get TPD discharge, you must have a disability that severely limits your ability to work, now and in the future. This can be a physical or a mental disability. If you get a TPD discharge, you don’t have to repay any of your federal student loan(s) or complete your TEACH Grant service obligation.

In most cases, you’ll have to provide specific kinds of proof of your disability. But some people get an automatic discharge if they are identified as eligible by the Social Security Administration or Veterans Affairs. Learn about the three ways to qualify for TPD discharge.

6

Military Service

The U.S Department of Education and Department of Defense have special benefits for military service members with federal student loans. Benefits include interest rate caps under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and Department of Defense student loan repayment programs.

In addition, your military service can also count toward PSLF.

Find more information about these benefits at VA.gov/education.

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AmeriCorps

The Segal AmeriCorps Education Award is a benefit received by participants who complete a term of national service in an approved AmeriCorps program—AmeriCorps VISTA, AmeriCorps NCCC, or AmeriCorps State and National. After you successfully complete your service, you are eligible to receive a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, which can be used to repay qualified student loans.

AmeriCorps service can also count towards PSLF.

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Other Options

Check out our student loan forgiveness page for information about other types of loan forgiveness and discharge.

You never have to pay for help with your student loans. Learn how to avoid student loan forgiveness scams.