Student Loan Forgiveness Options

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There are various federal loan forgiveness programs, some of which are referred to as loan cancellation or discharge. Many borrowers are turning to these programs to eliminate their student loan debt within a reasonable time since repaying their loan balance is difficult. Explore these programs to determine your eligibility and gain a clearer understanding of the specific requirements involved. Be sure to complete any necessary forms and diligently track your progress throughout the forgiveness process. Seek additional help if needed.

Many people don’t know this, but technically all federal student loan borrowers have the option to pursue a program called Income Driven Repayment Forgiveness (IDRF). IDRF forgives your remaining loan balance after 20-25 years of being in repayment under an Income Driven Repayment plan. That is a long time but it may be a viable option for borrowers who have a lot of debt.

If you work in the public sector, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program can help you eliminate your remaining loan balance within 10 years.

The Forgiveness Programs Everyone Should Know About: Are you missing out?

  • Forgives your remaining loan balance after making payments under an Income Driven Repayment (IDR) plan for 20-25 years. There is no employment requirement. You must be enrolled in an IDR plan. In most cases, you have better options if you have Direct loans. If you have FFEL loans, you can achieve IDRF after 25 years in the Income Based Repayment (IBR) plan. If you have Perkins or HEAL loans or want access to cheaper repayment options for your FFEL loans, you must consolidate into Direct loans.
  • Direct Parent Plus loans are ineligible for any IDR plans initially. However, after consolidation, they become eligible for the Income Contingent Repayment (ICR) plan exclusively. Consolidate via by December 31, 2023, to get the maximum benefit and credit towards this program under the IDR Account Adjustment. Seek advice if you are consolidating after January 1, 2024.
  • For more help on accessing IDRF, visit our other pages:
  • Forgives your remaining loan balance after 10 years of having your loans in repayment under an Income Driven Repayment plan and working full-time or an average of 30 hours per week for a non-profit or government employer. You must have Direct loans. If you have non-Direct loans, like FFEL, HEAL or Perkins, you can consolidate them into Direct. Consolidate via by December 31, 2023, to get the max benefit and credit towards this program under the IDR Account Adjustment. MOHELA is the student loan servicer managing the program. You must file the PSLF Employment Certification and Application form to confirm you are eligible and track your progress.
  • For more help on accessing PSLF, visit:
  • Discharges remaining loan balance for borrowers who were defrauded by their higher education institution. If your school misled you or engaged in other misconduct, you may be eligible. You must have attended a school that engaged in misconduct, and you must have taken out federal student loans to attend that school. The application process involves submitting a claim to the U.S. Department of Education (ED). ED will review your claim and determine whether you are eligible for discharge. The application process can be lengthy, but it’s worth it if you’re able to eliminate your debt.
  • Learn more and apply at
  • Allows borrowers to discharge their remaining loan balance if they are disabled. It must be a disability that prevents you from engaging in “substantial gainful activity”—i.e., you can’t work and earn enough to support yourself. There is an income threshold requirement. Disability may be proven through the Veteran’s Administration if you are a disabled vet; Social Security if you are on SSDI; or a physician’s certification. Applications are processed by Nelnet, even if you have a different servicer.
  • Learn more and apply at

Additional Forgiveness Options

While forgiveness programs like Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Income Driven Repayment Forgiveness may not always be accessible or meet everyone’s needs, there are alternative paths that can help alleviate the burden of student loan debt. Whether you’re exploring lesser-known forgiveness options, seeking cancellation programs specific to your profession, or discovering discharge programs based on unique circumstances, we’ve captured the key aspects and need-to-know details of the different programs that may be available to you.

  • This program is specifically for individuals who have earned an undergraduate degree and are living in New York State; it provides up to 24 months of loan forgiveness for eligible participants. To qualify, applicants must have graduated from a New York college or university, have a gross income below $50,000/yr, be enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan, and meet other specified criteria.
  • Learn more.
  • Forgives up to $17,500 in federal loans for teachers who meet certain criteria, including teaching in a designated subject area or shortage area for five consecutive years.
  • CAUTION: Time used to qualify for Teacher Loan Forgiveness cannot be used for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. If you have a high loan balance, pursuing Public Service Loan Forgiveness only may be best. Get advice before applying.
  • Learn more.
  • Up to 100% cancellation is offered to Perkins loan holders employed in certain fields or who meet other program requirements. Contact your school for more information.
  • Learn more.
  • Granted to borrowers whose schools closed while they were enrolled or shortly after they withdrew and who did not complete teach outs or comparable programs elsewhere.
  • Learn more.
  • While this path might seem a bit macabre, it’s just not feasible for some borrowers to pay off their student loans, and that’s okay.
  • Rest assured that student loans are discharged upon death and can never become another loved one’s burden.
  • Bankruptcy should be a last resort! It is not impossible, but it is difficult to discharge federal student loans in bankruptcy. You must meet the “undue hardship” test. It typically requires demonstrating that repaying the loans would cause you and your dependents an undue hardship, which is a high standard to meet.
  • Seek the advice of an experienced bankruptcy attorney who specializes in student loan discharge cases. They can assess your specific circumstances, evaluate the likelihood of discharging federal or private student loans, and guide you through the legal process.