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The 8 Best Student Loan Forgiveness Programs Ranked

No matter where you work or how much you make, there are paths to student loan forgiveness.

Written By: Michael P. Lux, Esq.

Last Updated:

Affiliate Disclosure and Integrity Pledge

The goal of this list is to help borrowers decide which loan forgiveness programs may be worth pursuing. Additionally, we will introduce some lesser-known options for forgiveness.

No forgiveness program is simple to use, and many only offer partial debt relief. Yet, for many people, pursuing forgiveness of their student loans is the best route to financial freedom.

No forgiveness program can be classified as easy, and some programs only forgive a portion of the debt. However, for many borrowers, debt forgiveness represents the best path to financial freedom from student loans.

  • We ranked the best student loan forgiveness programs according to how easy they are to qualify for and the number of eligible borrowers.
  • Some programs require borrowers to be in a specific field or occupation.
  • Other programs apply only to federal student loans.
  • Student loan forgiveness can also have tax consequences.

Biden Loan Forgiveness/Cancellation

Before we jump into the rankings, it is worth mentioning President Biden’s recent announcement that the government would be forgiving up to $20,000 in student loans. Although this is a temporary measure and won’t be included in our main rankings, it’s a significant update that some borrowers might have missed.

Under this program, federal borrowers who received Pell grants are eligible for $20,000 in forgiveness. Those who did not receive any Pell grants can have $10,000 forgiven.

Note, this program excludes single borrowers earning more than $125,000, and couples earning more than $250,000. Full details are available on the Department of Education’s forgiveness page.

Some lucky borrowers may even be in line for a massive refund from the government!

A Note from the Sherpa: This program has been challenged by numerous lawsuits and the Supreme Court will eventually decide if this form of forgiveness happens.

#1 Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness

Of all the loan forgiveness programs, Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is the best. It allows borrowers with federal student loans to have all of their qualifying debt eliminated after ten years of public service. The cherry on top? The government forgives this debt tax-free.

Qualifying for Public Service Loan Forgiveness has three basic requirements.

  1. The loans have to be eligible federal loans.
  2. The borrower has to make timely payments on an eligible repayment plan.
  3. The borrower must be working full-time for an eligible public service employer.

While these three requirements seem simple, they each represent potential hurdles for borrowers.

Eligible Federal Loans – Not all federal loans qualify for PSLF. Fortunately, some loans that don’t qualify can become eligible via the process of Federal Direct consolidation. However, going through consolidation also restarts the forgiveness clock. Therefore, borrowers who need to consolidate should do so right away. It also means that consolidation should only happen when necessary.

Eligible Repayment Plan – Only specific federal repayment plans qualify for PSLF. The two most common examples that do not qualify for PSLF are the graduated and extended repayment plans. Most borrowers pursuing PSLF stick with income-driven repayment plans such as IBR, REPAYE, and PAYE.

There is one exception to the eligible repayment plan requirement. Legislation signed into law in 2018 allows borrowers who mistakenly enrolled in the wrong repayment plan to qualify for PSLF. The Federal Student Aid website explains the procedure for signing up. Borrowers would be wise not to rely upon this exception, however, as it is temporary. The extended program ends when the available funds run out.

Eligible Public Service Employer – Borrowers who work for the government or a 501(c)(3) non-profit meet this requirement. Other public service employers might qualify, but this is a bit more complicated. The best way to check employer eligibility is to complete an employer certification form and mail it to your student loan servicer. This step triggers a review of your account, which tracks your progress towards the required ten years (120 payments). Accordingly, borrowers should complete an employer certification form every year.

The Department of Education’s PSLF Help tool is an excellent resource for verifying employer eligibility and tracking progress towards forgiveness.

Although we’ve ranked PSLF as the number one forgiveness program, that doesn’t mean securing forgiveness through PSLF is easy. While we think the reports of a 99% rejection rate are a bit misleading, there is no doubt that borrowers will have to jump through some hoops to get their loans discharged.

The reason we give PSLF the top spot is because forgiveness can happen in as little as ten years. Additionally, a surprisingly large percentage of borrowers could be eligible due to its applicability to government and non-profit employers.

#2 Income-Driven Student Loan Forgiveness

Of all the forgiveness programs, the Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) program has the widest reach, with the potential to benefit the broadest group of borrowers. Under this program, the government bases the borrower’s payments on their discretionary income. After 20 to 25 years of payments, the government forgives the remaining balance. However, the IRS will treat the forgiven debt as taxable income.

There are several Income-Driven Repayment plans for borrowers to consider.

PlanDiscretionary Income RequiredYears Until Forgiveness
ICR - Income-Contingent Repayment20%25
IBR - Income-Based Repayment15%25
PAYE - Pay As You Earn10%20
IBR for New Borrowers*10%20
SAVE - Saving on A Valuable Education5 - 10%20 or 25**

* New Borrowers are defined as those who started borrowing after July 1, 2014.
** Borrowers with graduate school debt will take 25 years to qualify, while those with undergrad debt can be eligible for forgiveness after 20 years.

Eligibility requirements for these different repayment plans can vary. Additionally, each plan comes with specific provisions that can impact a borrower’s decision. For example:

  • ICR is the only repayment plan that those with Parent PLUS loans can use.
  • SAVE has a special provision for borrowers whose payments are less than the monthly interest.
  • IBR and PAYE both allow borrowers to file taxes separately from their spouses in order to lower their discretionary income. REPAYE does not allow this.
  • PAYE is available only to borrowers who were new borrowers as of Oct. 1, 2007, and received a Direct Loan disbursement on or after Oct. 1, 2011.

Forgiveness under these plans requires a long-term commitment of at least 20 years, with payments based upon the borrower’s income during that time. Accordingly, the total financial cost for some borrowers – including the two decades of payments and the tax bill – might surpass the benefits of simply paying off the loans more aggressively.

Despite these challenges, IDR forgiveness ranks second in our evaluations because it is accessible to all federal loan borrowers without restrictions on the amount that can be forgiven. Eligibility does not depend on one’s job type or facing severe financial difficulties. Instead, borrowers must be prepared for a lengthy period of minimal payments

IDR forgiveness checks in at number two in our rankings because all federal borrowers it is accessible to all federal loan borrowers without restrictions on the amount of debt that can be forgiven. Eligibility doesn’t depend on the borrower’s specific job or require the borrower to suffer extreme hardship. Instead, borrowers only need to be willing to wait 20-25 years while making minimum payments on their loans.

#3 Employer Loan Forgiveness Programs

Coming in at number three in our list of top rated student loan forgiveness programs are employer assistance programs.

As demand for skilled labor is increasing, more companies are establishing programs to attract skilled workers. As the struggle to manage student debt continues, we expect the trend of offering employer-based student loan assistance to grow.

Most employers cap student loan assistance on a monthly or yearly basis. While these programs typically will not cover the entire debt, they can provide significant help with monthly payments.

If your employer doesn’t currently offer such a program, present it to them as an effective way to attract quality candidates for open positions. Discussing the creation of a loan repayment assistance program can also be a strategic part of salary negotiations.

Employer loan assistance programs rank highly on our list because they can provide nearly immediate financial relief.

#4 Borrower Defense Against Repayment

Borrowers whose schools misled them may be eligible to have their federal student loans forgiven through the Borrower Defense Against Repayment program.

If a Borrower Defense Against Repayment application is approved, the borrower can not only get their loans forgiven, they may also be reimbursed for payments already made on those student loans.

However, given the potentially enormous benefits available through this program, it should come as no surprise that successfully qualifying for it can be challenging. To qualify, the applicant must show that the school, through an act or omission, violated state law directly related to the federal student loan or to the educational services for which the loan was provided.

The Department of Education suggests that the following documents may be helpful in a borrower defense application:

  • Documentation that confirms the school, enrollment dates, and program of study —such as transcripts, enrollment agreements, and registration documents
  • Promotional materials from the school
  • Emails with school officials
  • Your school’s manual or course catalog

Borrowers can find the necessary applications and more details on the Federal Student Aid Borrower Defense page.

This forgiveness program ranks here because of the substantial relief it can provide. However, it only applies to a very limited number of borrowers, and qualifying can be difficult.

#5 School Closing

ways to qualify for student loan forgiveness

If your school shuts down, you might be eligible to have your federal student loans forgiven.

The criteria for this discharge are quite stringent. However, if successful, 100% of Federal Direct, FFEL, and Perkins loans could be forgiven.

Loans are eligible for forgiveness under this program only if one of the following applies:

* Your school closes while you’re enrolled, and you do not complete your program because of the closure.

* Your school closes within 120 days after you withdraw.

Further complicating matters is that, even if you meet one of the above requirements, you still might not be eligible for forgiveness if:

  • You are completing a comparable educational program at another school
    • through a teach-out agreement with the school,
    • by transferring academic credits or hours earned at the closed school to another school, or
    • by any other comparable means.
  • You have completed all the coursework for the program, even if you have not received a diploma or certificate.
  • You withdraw more than 120 days before the school closes.

To start the forgiveness process due to school closure, contact your federal student loan servicer responsible for the loans. The Department of Education has a page tracking the various school closings and specific details pertaining to those individual schools.

#6 Student Loan Forgiveness for Your Profession

There are some professions that offer student loan forgiveness options. However, most professions offer very little student loan relief. Furthermore, those that do offer help are often limited and/or competitive. Consequently, profession-based loan forgiveness checks in at number six on our list.

While the jobs and programs we discuss here are not exhaustive, they serve as examples of the more common and extensive forgiveness programs available across various fields.

The jobs and programs we have listed below are by no means exhaustive but should serve as examples of the many forgiveness programs out there. Here, we mainly focus on the most common professions with forgiveness programs and the programs that offer the most extensive forgiveness.

If you don’t see your profession listed below, taking some time to research may yield some positive results. Like scholarships, there is a multitude of forgiveness programs for many occupations.

Here, we will explore some forgiveness options for teachers, lawyers, military personnel, and nurses. Remember, many other career-specific programs exist, including programs for doctors, social workers, firefighters, librarians, and law enforcement. Some forgiveness programs even cater to Peace Corps and AmeriCorps volunteers, reflecting the wide range of opportunities that can be pursued depending on your career path.

Student Loan Forgiveness for Teachers

Most teachers are eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. However, forgiveness opportunities aren’t limited to PSLF. Numerous other programs exist to help educators manage their student debt.

The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program

The Teacher Loan Forgiveness program provides up to $17,500 for five years of teaching. Only Federal Direct and Stafford loans are eligible.

Basic Requirements:

  • Teach for five years,
  • Teach at a low-income school,
  • Federal loans cannot be in default,
  • Cannot have student loans from before October 1, 1998, and
  • Must be a “highly qualified” teacher.

The “highly qualified” teacher requirement is where this program gets complicated. A borrower must have at least a bachelor’s degree and have received full state certification to satisfy this requirement. Borrowers on a provisional, temporary, or emergency certification will not meet the requirement. Beyond these basics requirements, additional requirements exist for particular grade levels.

Finally, the entire $17,500 is available only to math, science, and special education teachers. Under this program, the government offers only up to $5,000 to those that teach other subjects.

Borrowers interested in the program can find the full details and application instructions on the Department of Education Teacher Forgiveness page.

We should also note that participating in the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program could impact PSLF eligibility. Though PSLF takes longer, the benefits can be far more significant. Teachers should carefully weigh their options before deciding which program to pursue.

Perkins Loan Cancellation for Teachers

The Perkins Loan Cancellation for Teachers program provides teachers a pathway to cancel up to 100% of their Perkins loans within five years.

Teachers are eligible for Perkins Loan Cancellation if they teach at a low-income school listed in this database.

Educators that don’t teach at a low-income school can still qualify if they teach any of the following subjects: mathematics, science, foreign languages, bilingual or special education, or any subject determined by the local state education agency to have a shortage of qualified teachers.

The following schedule provides a structured loan forgiveness, after which, forgiveness totals 100%:

  • 15% canceled after the first year,
  • 15% canceled after the second year,
  • 20% canceled after the third year,
  • 20% canceled after the fourth year, and
  • 30% canceled after the fifth year of service.

For complete qualification requirements, be sure to check out the Department of Education page on Perkins Loan Cancellation.

State-Based Programs for Teacher Loan Forgiveness

Many states have their own teacher forgiveness programs aimed at recruiting new educators. These programs vary widely in terms of requirements, qualifications, and benefits, depending on the state.

The American Federation of Teachers maintains an extensive database of the State-Based Teacher Forgiveness Programs.

All teachers should investigate loan forgiveness programs in their state and even within their school district. Looking into these programs takes very little time, and the effort could be worth thousands of dollars.

Student Loan Forgiveness Programs for Lawyers

There are a surprising number of student loan assistance programs designed specifically for lawyers. Most student loan assistance for lawyers targets those working in public interest roles, such as prosecutors and public defenders. However, there are some programs that offer assistance to a broad cross-section of attorneys. Here’s an overview of some key programs and opportunities:

Law School Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAPs)

Many law schools offer student loan repayment assistance to their graduates who are working in public service.

The availability and quality of these LRAPs varies from school to school. If there is any pattern, the higher-tier (more highly-funded) schools seem to provide the most robust repayment assistance. However, each school is different, and the terms are unique to each school.

The John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program

The John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program is a nationwide opportunity that offers repayment assistance to local and state prosecutors and local, state, or federal public defenders.

Repayment award benefits are capped at $10,000 per year and $60,000 in aggregate per attorney. Attorneys can use this repayment assistance for Federal Direct and FFEL loans only. Other loans, such as private loans and Parent PLUS loans, are not eligible. Participants must commit to continue working as prosecutors or public defenders for at least three years.

Though the federal government created the program, administration occurs at the state level. Further details on the program can be found here.

Employer Forgiveness and Loan Repayment Assistance

Many employers offer student loan assistance as an incentive to recruit and retain employees. This is especially true within the legal field.

Governments and private employers alike may offer these types of loan assistance. For example, federal employees may be eligible for their agency’s recruitment and retention programs that provide loan repayment assistance. The Office of Personnel Management has more details here. The Department of Justice also has a dedicated Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program.

Borrowers should inquire about student loan assistance when discussing a compensation package with a new employer. It is also probably worth sending a quick email to HR to check if your employer has a program.

State-Based Loan Repayment Programs

Most states also run programs aimed at encouraging lawyers to work as prosecutors or public defenders. These vary widely in scope and funding sources, with some supported by legislative appropriations and others by private donations.

The state bar association is typically a good resource for information on these programs.

Military Student Loan Forgiveness and Loan Assistance Programs

The men and women serving the country are eligible for a variety of excellent forgiveness and loan assistance programs.

Some of these programs are open to all members of the military. Others are dependent upon the branch of service or the nature of the work performed.

The Military College Loan Repayment Program (CLRP)

CLRP is a recruitment incentive program authorized by Congress designed to help enlistees who have already incurred student loan debt. All branches are eligible for participation in the program, as are some reserves.

Unlike many other loan repayment programs, the government pays the benefits directly to the lender or servicer of the student loan rather than the individual loan holder. The maximum benefit under the program is $65,000, but some branches impose lower limits.

Note, borrowers considering returning to school after their service should be careful. Participation can impact future GI Bill eligibility.

Those interested in this benefit should contact their recruitment officer for specific details and current recruitment incentives.

Active Duty Health Professions Loan Repayment Program

Healthcare professionals can qualify for special loan repayment programs through the military. Eligible professionals include doctors, nurses, optometrists, dentists, pharmacists, and veterinarians. However, only those that are fully licensed in their field are eligible for this program.

The benefit amounts for this program depend upon your specialty and branch of service, but they can be as high as $40,000 per year or $120,000 in total. These funds are available to pay down private student loans, which is relatively rare for student loan forgiveness programs.

For more details on this program, check out the appropriate page with the Army, Navy, or Air Force.

Other Military Repayment Assistance

Other laws and programs that exist to assist members of the military with their debt include:

Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) Interest Rate Cap – The SCRA limits all student loan interest rates to 6% for active-duty military members. This limit applies to both federal and private student loans. Note, this applies only to debt incurred before your active duty start date. Loans consolidated or refinanced during active duty may not be eligible for the interest rate reduction. Contact your loan servicer for instructions on how to apply for this benefit.

0% Interest – Anyone serving in a hostile area that qualifies for special pay does not have to pay interest for up to 60 months on their Federal Direct student loans. This benefit applies to all Federal Direct loans issued after October 1, 2008.

Military personnel also have access to various deferments and simplified documentation processes, enhancing their ability to manage loan obligations while serving. The Department of Education has an excellent summary of the various military forgiveness programs and loan repayment privileges.

Student Loan Forgiveness for Nurses

Nursing is another profession for which current staffing levels do not fill the needs of society. As a result, numerous programs exist specifically for nurses to entice more individuals to enter the field.

Many nurses will find that they qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness due to their employer being either a government agency or an eligible non-profit. However, the forgiveness programs available to nurses go beyond PSLF.

Here’s an overview of some key loan forgiveness options available to nurses:

NHSC Loan Repayment Program

The NHSC Loan Repayment Program offers up to $75,000 in student loan repayment assistance. To qualify for forgiveness under this program, applicants must work at an NHSC-approved service site located in, designated as, or serving a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA).

The icing on the cake is that the financial assistance received is not considered to be taxable income. This tax treatment is very rare for these types of forgiveness opportunities.

Application information and eligibility details are on the HRSA website.

NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program

The NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program is available for full-time nurses who work in a Critical Shortage Facility (CSF) or at an accredited school of nursing. A CSF is a health care facility located in, designated as, or serving a primary care or mental health Health Professional Shortage Area.

This program will pay up to 60% of outstanding nursing education debt for nurses who make a two-year commitment. Furthermore, qualifying participants may earn an additional 25% forgiveness for participating an additional year. For nurses with more significant student debt levels, having forgiveness capped as a percentage of debt rather than a dollar limit could be particularly beneficial.

You can find full eligibility details and an application here. Those interested in the differences between the NHSC Loan Repayment Program and the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program will likely find this handout helpful.

State-Based Nursing Forgiveness Programs

Most states also have their own student loan forgiveness schemes to attract nurses. In some states, these benefits can exceed $100,000 in student loan forgiveness. However, the forgiveness amount and the requirements can vary significantly from one state to the next.

You can find a good compilation of the various state programs here. However, a quick Google search for nursing information in your state is probably the best way to find up-to-date program availability and benefits.

Perkins Loan Cancellation

Nurses, like teachers, may qualify to have up to 100% of their Federal Perkins Loans canceled.

15% of Perkins Loans can be canceled after years one and two, with 20% coming after years three and four. Finally, the remaining 30% is eligible for forgiveness after year five.

The Department of Education Perkins Cancellation page has some information on this program. However, borrowers will probably need to reach out to their school or school’s Perkins Loan servicer for application details and eligibility information.

#7 Student Loan Bankruptcy

One common misconception about student loan debt is that it is impossible to discharge in bankruptcy. The reality is that a borrower can discharge their student loans in bankruptcy proceedings, but the process is very difficult. For this reason, we rank bankruptcy near the bottom of our best forms of student loan forgiveness rankings.

The first thing borrowers should know about student loan bankruptcy is that the law treats it differently from all other debt, such as mortgages, credit cards, and auto loans. To get student loan debt forgiven in bankruptcy, borrowers must prove some additional items.

Federal law governs bankruptcy rules, and the most commonly applied standard that most borrowers must overcome is called the Brunner Test.

The Brunner Test requires that the borrower prove the following:

  1. That the borrower cannot maintain, based on current income and expenses, a minimal standard of living for the borrower and dependents if forced to pay off student loans;
  2. that additional circumstances exist indicating that this state of affairs is likely to persist for a significant portion of the repayment period of the student loans; and
  3. that the borrower has made good faith efforts to repay the loans.

Given these stringent requirements, borrowers who believe they might meet the criteria should consider consulting with a bankruptcy attorney to explore this option further. Although it’s a tough path, for those who genuinely struggle with insurmountable student loan debt, bankruptcy could provide a necessary financial reset.

#8 Death and Disability Discharge(s)

Borrowers who die during repayment or become permanently disabled are eligible to have their federal student loans discharged, which means they no longer have to make payments.

Borrowers with private student loans may also be eligible for a similar discharge of the debt. However, eligibility varies from lender to lender. The loan contract will specify forgiveness requirements under these circumstances.

Parents who borrow Parent PLUS loans for their child can also have the debt forgiven if the parent or child dies.

Student Loan Discharge Due to Death – For a borrower, or parent in the case of Parent PLUS loans, to have the debt forgiven, the federal student loan servicer usually needs to be supplied with a copy of the death certificate. At that point, the federal government discharges the remaining balance in full.

Student Loan Discharge Due to Permanent Disability – For a borrower who has become permanently disabled to have their debt discharged, they must prove permanent disability. Federal servicer Nelnet handles disability discharge requests for all federal loans. Borrowers who are temporarily disabled or unable to work in their field are not eligible for a disability discharge.

Those who become disabled can prove permanent disability in one of three ways:

  1. Borrowers can submit documentation from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) showing that the VA has determined that they are unemployable due to a service-connected disability.
  2. Borrowers receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits can submit a Social Security Administration (SSA) notice of award for SSDI. Alternatively, borrowers receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits can submit a notice stating that their next scheduled disability review will be within five to seven years from the date of their most recent SSA disability determination.
  3. Physicians can certify that a borrower is totally and permanently disabled. The physician must certify that the borrower is unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity because of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that:
    • Can be expected to result in death,
    • Has lasted for a continuous period of not less than 60 months, or
    • Can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 60 months.

Borrowers can find full details on the disability discharge process and an application here.

Finally, the rules regarding the taxation of death and disability discharge have recently changed. In the past, this form of loan forgiveness triggered a tax bill from the IRS. $50,000 of forgiven student loans counted as $50,000 of income. As of January 1, 2018, loans discharged due to death and disability are no longer taxed. However, this tax provision expires in 2025.

When Forgiveness Options Fail

Qualifying for student loan forgiveness is great. However, the vast majority of borrowers will not be able to have their debt forgiven.

For the most part, the available forgiveness options are in place to help the borrowers in most need of assistance and to encourage educated individuals to take less lucrative jobs that benefit society. If you don’t fall under either of those categories, student loan forgiveness could be a long shot.

Borrowers who are sure they will be paying back their loans in full can look to student loan refinancing as an option to reduce their spending. Refinancing debt will take most forgiveness programs off the table, but it can also dramatically lower interest rates.

There are several refinance options:

Splash Financial4.99%* – 9.99%$5,000 – No Max
Splash Financial Review: Splash has competitive rates, but they start slightly higher than the top lenders. Splash also offers unique 8 and 12 year repayment terms.Application
+ Up to $500 Bonus
ELFI5.28% – 8.99%$10,000 – No Max
ELFI Review: ELFI routinely offers excellent interest rates. Even though ELFI is new, it is the product of a regional bank that has been in business for decades.Application
+ $150 Bonus
SoFi5.24% – 9.99%$5,000 – No Max
SoFi Review: SoFi is the biggest name in student loan refinancing for a simple reason – their rates are reliably among the best on the market.Application
Earnest4.99% – 9.74%^$5,000 – No Max
Earnest Review: The rates advertised by Earnest are among the best, but in head to head comparisons, Earnest often falls short in actual rates offered. Earnest scores points because it has by far the most flexibility on loan repayment length.Application
+ $150 Bonus^
LendKey5.24% – 12.18%$5,000 – $300,000
LendKey Review: LendKey partners with local banks and credit unions to provide their loans. The end result is competitive rates provided by local reputable businesses.Application
+ $150 Bonus

Whether by qualifying for forgiveness or by refinancing, most borrowers can find some student loan savings if they chase down the right opportunity.

About the Author

Student loan expert Michael Lux is a licensed attorney and the founder of The Student Loan Sherpa. He has helped borrowers navigate life with student debt since 2013.

Insight from Michael has been featured in US News & World Report, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and numerous other online and print publications.

Michael is available for speaking engagements and to respond to press inquiries.

46 thoughts on “The 8 Best Student Loan Forgiveness Programs Ranked”

  1. I’m on pslf and my account is being transfered from a mohela account to a new mohela loan servicing platform that will change the url for the federal student loan servicing site, my account number, and the mohela payment address. It states mohela will still service my loans. Do you know what this means? Is this how the Department of Education is managing the pslf program? Thank you.

    • You last question nailed it. The Department of Education is taking over on tracking PSLF progress, and the notice you received is the heads up on the transition that is happening over the next couple of months.

  2. I appreciate the information. I was curious though. I attended one of the predatory schools (which has since been bought out) and could apply for the borrower against repayment; however, I don’t have enough proof of the recruiters info and the specific details, like dates and times. I do have a good memory, but it would be hard to pinpoint the exacts. Would it be worth it? And I consolidated my loans after I finished school in 2011, from the recommendation of the student loan officer. Is it going to be a problem to prove that those loans came from that predatory school? I can’t find any details about someone in my same situation and found your info in an article online. I have over $135,000 in debt and most of that was from the predatory school for a BS and MS. I currently make only half of that in my current job and I am the primary income source in our family. I am unable to obtain the job in the degrees I pursued because I was incorrectly informed. I discovered you had to have a specific certificate and be employed in that field to be able to use the HR degree. I asked the student loan servicer and they just referred me to a website. I was not assisted. I have no other advocates or experts to ask. Any recommendations on who to talk to would be appreciated. I need to get this addressed, even if I get denied. At least I know I tried. Thank you in advance.

    • Hi Tabitha,

      It sounds like you’ve got a lot on your plate.

      I’d suggest going with two strategies at once. First, I’d encourage you to file the borrower defense against repayment application. The Department of Education has a really good page on how to make your application as effective as possible. It will probably take you at least a few hours to get through the application, but if there is even a chance that it is successful, given the size of your debt, it is probably worth your effort.

      Second, I’d suggest coming up with a plan to get out from under the debt if the borrower defense effort doesn’t work. The new SAVE plan can make monthly bills much more affordable and help borrowers on a tight budget. Additionally, if you’d like to talk with me about your loans, you can schedule a consultation.

  3. Hi. My son attended Brooks College in Sunnyvale, CA, and graduated in 2007. The original loan amount was about $25,000. In the end, I believe the total balance was $65,000. This was due to forebearance that Sallie Mae. The college started closing and the staff started disappearing. The job placement center was locked and closed. When it came time for my son to do his internship, there wasn’t any help with that either, and he had to find something on his own. Him and other students didn’t know what was happening. The college became a ghost town. He graduated with an AA in graphic design. By that time the school was just about closed. My son received no help with internship placement and job placement like he was told they do. He graduated but could not find a job. He applied for everything and anything and he got nothing. The janitor jobs, he was over qualified. He told the he needs a job but he didn’t get hired. In the meantime Sallie Mae kept calling 24/7 wanting their money. He’d tell them he had no job and no money. That’s when they told him about forebearance. Unfortunately, the original $25,000 loan turned into a $65,000 loan. We consolidated the loans into one private loan with another lender. I feel so bad because who would have thought that one day there would be student loan forgiveness and we consolidated! Is there anything we can do that can have him eligible for forgiveness? Can we transfer the loan back? Anything? I’m hoping and praying you can direct us in the right direction. If at all. Thank you.

    • Hi Julie,

      Unfortuantely, I don’t have much to offer you in the form of good news. When you refinance the loan with a private lender, it pays off the old loan in full, which means the original debt is eliminated. There isn’t a way of undoing this processs once it has been finalized.

      As you probably suspected, getting a refund on previous payments is much more difficult than getting forgiveness on an existing loan. That all said, in some cases the attorney general of your state may have sued or negotiated a settlement with the school and its possible some relief is avaialbe, though not likely. I’d encourage you to reach out to the attorney general’s office and to investigate if there has been any lawsuits with the college.

  4. Hi, Michael – I have been helping my husband figure out his loan situation, and I believe he should have qualified for Biden’s SAVE forgiveness of <12,000 in original loans and 10+ years of payments. However, I cannot get FSA or my servicer or even the Department of Education to answer my questions.

    His original loans were 11,000.

    His loans were completed in 1990 (very old), but he did have some defaults during that time (the loan is now 27,000) until he "rehabilitated" and consolidated his loans in 2006. So, from 2006 until now 2024 (17 years) he has been making payments.

    Then in 2020 he was able to turn his loans into Direct Loans. Subsequently, he was able to change to the REPAYE and SAVE programs.

    Since 2006, there have been some forbearances (including the pandemic hold). And he had several different servicers during this time. But in 17 years, he wants to be able to see a loan history that shows whether he has had at least 10 years of payments, and so far, nobody has been able to produce that history. Is it not reasonable to expect to be able to get the line-by-line itemization of his loans since he started?


    We have been asking for a complete history of his loans so that we could check what criteria FSA is using to gauge adjustments. The only payment history we could get was from Mohela from 2020 on (which took forever), since Mohela took over the loan. Isn't an individual entitled to see a complete history of his loan, even though there have been different servicers along the way?

    The fact that we can't get a full history makes us doubt that FSA or Mohela would have flagged him for the SAVE <12,000 in original loans and 10+ years of payments program. This would have been the best program for him, because it only requires 10 years of payments, and his original loan is definitely under 12,000. I had heard that the Dept. of Education was mainly targeting individuals who were going to community colleges and making at least 10 year payments. And does that mean consecutive payments?

    He has submitted complaints to FSA. For a while we were bouncing back and forth between Mohela and FSA, and each of them were saying that the other SHOULD have the complete loan history. And I did ask FSA if the complete history should be somewhere, or was I mistaken, and they said yes (of course they also said Mohela should have the information, and they don't.)

    If they have "misplaced" the complete loan history, shouldn't my husband be able to get credit for loans they no longer have on record. When the loan switched to different servicers, isn't the complete payment information supposed to be sent back to FSA or forwarded to the next servicer or both?

    Thank you so much for your time.

    • The itemized payment history is definitely a resonable request, but it is also not something that is really available. The best you can do is to grab your information from the studentaid.gov database.

      It definitely sounds like your husband would be a good candidate for the early SAVE forgiveness/shortened timeline.

      I can also tell you that the 10 years of payments do not need to be consecutive.

      There are a couple of strategies you might consider to address this issue. One, you could just call the servicer and instead of asking for a payment history, ask how much longer he needs to be on SAVE to get forgiveness. It is a pretty reasonable question and it will force them to look at his file to do the analysis. Second, if the servicer isn’t helpful, you can consider filing a compliant with the CFPB. Servicers and the Department of Education take these complaints pretty seriously, and it often triggers a higher level review. Third, you can reach out to your local Congressperson or Senator. Many elected officials have staff members who help with constiutent issues like this.

      • Michael – thank you so much for your thoughtful reply, and thank you for this awesome website!

        I did look at the studentaid.gov database, and as you can imagine, there were only a few entries, and nothing useful.

        I am going to try every strategy your recommended, and thanks again!

  5. Hello! Your site has been the most clear and helpful in my MANY searches for student loan info. Thank you! Q: We were just denied a Federal Consolidation based on “Reason #26”: our FFEL loans being spousal consolidation (Consolidated in the early 2000s- worst financial thing we ever did!) We were trying to change from Navient to Direct loan so we could qualify for the SAVE program and take advantage of the one time payment adjustment. In all of my research and talks with people at student aid.gov, they never mentioned that a spousal consolidation wouldn’t qualify. It’s listed as FFEL so seemed it would? Did I miss this? Also, now knowing this, I am worried that even though it’s been on the IBR plan for many years that it will not qualify for 25 year forgiveness then either? Any insights you have would be so appreciated!

  6. Hi Michael, both my husband and myself are on IDR plans with a monthly payment of zero for the next 12 months. Will these next 12 months of “payments” count towards the 20-25 years of payments that are required in order to have the remaining balance dismissed?
    Thank you for you answer. Your website is very helpful.

      • Looks like the loan is a consolidated FFEL loan with DE. I don’t think it matters? Here is what is on student loan aid website: “The one-time account adjustment will be applied to all Direct Loans and all FFEL Program loans held by ED. “

      • Whether it is classified as an FFEL consolidation loan or a federal direct loan is significant. I’d suggest calling your servicer and asking that question specifically.

        I know it sounds like a silly distinction, but it matters for repayment plan eligibility and more.

      • I spoke with DoE and he said that my loan was not held by DoE, therefore, I would have to consolidate it again into a Direct Loan to be eligible for the one-time account adjustment. I did that but there is no way for me to tell if my FFEL loans are held by the DOE or commercially held. If I go to DoE website all I can tell is that they are consolidated FFEL loans. Very puzzling. Having graduated with an LLM doesn’t help at all. Also, what I learned is that my current servicer, Navient, is not authorized to service my new loan, so I had to go with a different servicer.

  7. I’m 77-years old. I am on the IBR plan. I consolidated the loans in 2010. My loan servicer (Navient) said the loans would be cancelled in 2035. My payments are currently $0 per month, and I have never been delinquent or in default. I started making payments in 2000. Do I need to enroll in the SAVE/REPAYE plan to take advantage of the new cancellation policy, which would cancel my loan in 2025 instead of 2035? Thanks.

      • Thanks for your response. I called Navient. They said that for the one-time IDR count adjustment to apply, I would need to have the Department of Education service my loan. However, the Department of Education does not service loans. I believer that I don’t have to do anything now, as my FFEL loans are consolidated on the StudentAid.gov website and I am currently in the IBR program? I also believe that Navient is not clear on the one-time IDR count adjustment? It’s possible that I’m still not clear?

      • Hi Ken, sorry I didn’t respond to your questions, I’m not sure why I didn’t receive a notice that there was a new post.

        Anyway, you are correct that the Department of Education does not service loans, and it is definitely possible that the representative you were talking to doesn’t understand the IDR count update.

        As for whether or not you are good to go, I have a question for you: when did you consolidate your FFEL loans? I ask because if you have a federal direct consolidation loan, you should be all set. However, if you have an FFEL consolidation loan (these would be at least 10 years old, probably closer to 20), you may still have work to do.

  8. I have two Stafford Direct graduate loans from 2012 and 2013. I’m in the PAYE plan, work for a non-profit and qualify for PSLF forgiveness in 2027 – I was only able to start paying in 2017 and was in unemployment forbearance for 3 years before that. My current payment is split between the loans – I have 75/120 payments listed for each loan. The interest amounts are different – one is appoximately 5.5%, the other 4.4%. Right now it seems I’m paying the loan at the 5.5% level.

    Even though I got the loans in two different years, since they’re both Stafford, is it possible that I have one loan with two sections? I always thought of it as two loans. I ask because I’d like to apply for the SAVE plan but by consolidating the loans will I lose some of the payments I’ve already made and go backwards on forgiveness?

    Any advice you can give would be very helpful. This is one of the best and clearest student loan information sites I’ve seen and I’ve read through many of them.

  9. Can you give advice on a specific and unusual aspect of the PSLF program..it’s somewhat complicated and my daughter ,an attorney, needs someone knowledgeable in this are of law..thank you

  10. I was working for the state government for 6 years when I lost my hearing and had to get dual cochlear implants. They put me on state workers’ disability for 5 years and then I went on social security with a very small pension plan from the state. I am now 67 and have $80,000 in student loans. I went back to school in my 50s as I wanted to become a teacher. This ended up not being able to happen, due to my deafness and two cochlears.
    It is a difficult situation for me as I pay my bills. Did not expect to end up like this. What are my options?

  11. I have HEAL loans that were sold to the department of health and human services by Navient (didn’t realize and didn’t agree to) and after my bankruptcy the unpaid remainder went to a PSC collection center which I didn’t realize. (I thought they went back to Navient and that I was paying them through navient along with my other loans ) This PSC is the sketchiest undocumented website I have ever seen. Is there any recourse or other option for the money owed for my HEAL Loans??

    • HEAL loans are tricky to handle because they were last issued in 1998, and the rules are significantly different than for other federal student loans. Have you attempted to consolidate your HEAL loans into a federal direct loan?

  12. I have taken out a Parent Plus Loan for my son to go to school. I put the loan in my name. I am now on social security retirement as I am 65. My husband who is younger was injured and is now on Social Security Disability for permanent disability. Because the loan is in my name, does this disqualify us for a discharge due to disability? The loan repayment is based on both our incomes. Would his SSD income count towards the repayment amount?

    • I’m not sure I follow. Disability payments and rules are a bit outside of my area of expertise. Are you saying the borrower, who is not disabled, is getting disability payments due to a dependant who is disabled?

      This page has contact information for the people who handle the disability discharge process, it might be a good idea to call them to discuss your situation in more detail. If loan forgiveness is even a possibility, it is worth investigating.

  13. This is all excellent information. I believe I may qualify for PLUS loan forgiveness. What is my next step? Do I need to find a local attorney to help me?

  14. This is quite the detailed read.
    Does a foreign nursing student qualify for debt forgiveness or is it just limited to students that are permanent US residents?
    Thank you for the elaborate information.

    • That is a really interesting question. I would say that the best way to determine the answer definitively would be to use the PSLF help tool and/or call your student loan servicer.

      The answer may depend upon a number of details specific to your employer, so I’m hesitate to make a blanket statement on eligibity.


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