4 Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

student loan debt

The cost of college can be high, and the cost of borrowing to go to school can be even higher. Ideally you have run the numbers to make sure you can afford to pay off your student loans before receiving them. However, if you’ve entered the workforce and find your student loans are making your financial life difficult, there are a few programs designed to ease the burden:

1. Public Service Loan Forgiveness

If you’re a teacher, nurse, firefighter, military personnel or other qualifying public service professional, you may be able to get your federal direct loans forgiven. You’ll need to work full-time for the government or for a non-profit for at least 10 years to qualify. You may need to consolidate some of your loans, and all required paperwork. Since you must work in a qualifying field for some time, this is only an option if you already intend to work in public service.

2. Income-Driven

This is a repayment program instead of loan forgiveness. You will pay a part of your monthly income toward your college loans. Depending on your plan, you’ll be forgiven the loan after you have steadily made the required payments for 20-25 years, depending on whether you choose Pay As You Earn, Income-Based Repayment, Income-Contingent Repayment or the Revised Pay As You Earn Plan. You’ll need to determine whether you qualify for any of these plans, but in general they’re designed for those borrowers who have large loans in ratio to their income.

3. Teacher Loan Forgiveness

If you have a Stafford or Direct Loan and work as a teacher, you may have your loans forgiven, up to a maximum of $17,500. To qualify, you must have taken out your loans after October 1, 1998, you must work in low-income high schools or elementary schools and you must work as a teacher for five consecutive years. If you plan on working in low-income schools and have smaller loans, this plan might work for you. As a teacher, you may also be able to get Public Service Loan Forgiveness. This is an option to consider if you’ll be working in private or higher-income schools or have larger loans.

4. Perkins Loan Cancellation

With a federal Perkins loan, you can have the full amount of your balance forgiven if you work in a public service job for five years or more. You may qualify if you work in positions such as public defender, firefighter, nurse, school librarian, teacher, police officer or other qualifying positions. Your loan will be forgiven a specific percentage amount for every year you work in a qualifying position. If you’re applying for this program as a teacher, your qualifying work must involve teaching in qualifying subjects such as special education, foreign languages, science or math and you must teach at low-income schools. If you qualify, ask for an application at your school’s financial aid office.

If you’re still in college or are just looking forward to applying, there are steps you can take now to keep costs low. Start applying for scholarships, start saving for college and use the Money Help Center net cost of college calculator to plan for the cost of your education.

How do you plan to pay for college?

11 comments on “4 Student Loan Forgiveness Programs”

  1. Amy says:

    December 1st, 2017 at 2:49 pm (#)

    what about private loans?? they are killing my children’s future. both have doctorate degrees and still can’t afford the payments. what happened in our society and what can we do about it?

  2. Vex says:

    March 12th, 2018 at 2:43 pm (#)

    @Amy. Have them fill out the ‘revised pay-as-you-earn’ repayment plan. Will significantly reduce their payment. If Obummer did one thing right, it was that.

  3. IKelley says:

    April 25th, 2018 at 2:24 am (#)

    It is a crime that so many people’s lives have to be financially ruined in order to get an education in America. I don’t understand why a country would make it so difficult. Without an educated population we don’t progress as individuals, communities &/or a society. The long term implications are frightening.

  4. Paula B. Huffman says:

    June 5th, 2018 at 1:10 pm (#)

    I have two consolidated loans through College Foundation and have taught the required 10 years in a private, non-profit school. How can I apply for option 1. to have my loans forgiven? ( Total yrs. in public service: 2 yrs. as a teacher assistant in SC; 6 yrs in public school as a teacher assistant, 14 years in private, 4 years as certified teacher in public, then 9 years so far in private. (All in NC.)

  5. s simmons says:

    November 16th, 2018 at 9:51 pm (#)

    I realize that people need to take out student loans, tuition is skyrocketing, but it is a fact that people today think they shouldn’t have to give anything up to go to school. If they didn’t live like they already had great paying jobs, and scrimped and went without, the way people did 40 years ago, they would not be in near as much debt.

  6. Susan A says:

    February 5th, 2019 at 7:35 am (#)

    Does your loan get forgiven regardless after 20 years of continuous paying? I know I will never live to pay mine off at this rate mine is sitting at $85,00 and I never graduated:(

  7. Sue says:

    February 14th, 2019 at 7:08 am (#)

    What about parent plus loans? Any help with these?

  8. John says:

    April 8th, 2019 at 8:36 am (#)

    @S Simmons, that is the silliest thing that we have to hear and often do from older generations with PTSD from the great depression that were able to go to school and pay it off on a minimum wage job. Those days, like buying bread for a nickel, are OVER. You can’t even qualify or apply for many job opportunities without a degree. The funny thing many of them don’t even pay that great to add insult to injury. So please go on about how if people lived at home with their moms and dads rent free and ate nothing but canned food everyday they could pay these outrageous, predatory student loan costs.

  9. Catherine Taylor says:

    July 21st, 2019 at 1:31 am (#)

    I owe over 30,000$ in student loans to Sallie mae I wasn’t able to graduate as the school I was attending just up an closed the doors one day my credits are not even transferable what am I suppose to do my loans should be forgiven just for the simple fact I didn’t even receive the education yet they want me to pay for it

  10. SHALINA N LAROSA says:

    October 8th, 2019 at 10:21 am (#)

    I have been working for St. Johns county sheriffs dept as a 911 operator for 16 years. Would that qualify me?

  11. J. Jobe says:

    January 9th, 2020 at 9:43 am (#)

    I have been a public servant for 18+yrs now. I have NEVER missed a student loan payment. I contacted the Fed. Student Loan provider regarding the ‘Loan Forgiveness’ Program, and was told: “Thank you for making all payments requested/required for the past 10+yrs. Unfortunately, you do NOT QUALIFY for the Loan Forgiveness Program due to you are enrolled in the WRONG Loan Repayment program. You must be enrolled in the Income-Driven/Income Based repayment programs. Would you like to enroll in one of these programs now, and RE-START the 10yr/120 payments over again?’

    Me: CLICK (hung up).

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