Chiropractors and Student Loan Forgiveness: How to Get It

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Updated on September 23, 2022

Chiropractors can have up to $20 thousand knocked off their federal student loan debt if they use President Biden’s debt cancellation plan. They can have the remaining loan balance written off using the Income-Driven Repayment Plan Waiver & Account Adjustment.

Chiropractors have a lot of school debt, just like medical doctors. But they don’t always make as much money. This leaves many graduates struggling to pay back their loans while covering their living expenses. Many borrowers realize they can’t keep up with their monthly payments, so they put their account in deferment or forbearance and watch as the interest rate accumulates over the years, causing their balance to soar.

The Department of Education has temporarily changed its student loan forgiveness programs to help more borrowers get rid of their debt. For example, it’s using a one-time waiver and account adjustment to increase borrowers qualifying payments for income-driven repayment plan forgiveness. It’s also giving government and nonprofit employees the chance to get retroactive credit towards Public Service Loan Forgiveness. And it’s wiping out at least $10 thousand in federal student debt tax-free for borrowers who earned $125 thousand or less in 2020 or 2021.

Most relief opportunities are available to doctors of chiropractic, but some will need to consolidate their existing loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan to ensure their eligibility.

Ahead, learn how to get loan forgiveness from your chiropractic school debt.

Loan forgiveness programs for chiropractors

The federal government doesn’t have a specific chiropractic student loan forgiveness program. For years, the American Chiropractic Association has worked to gain access to the National Health Service Corps’s loan repayment program for its members. But those please have gone nowhere.

Despite the lack of specific relief options, chiropractors can reduce or eliminate their debt by participating in one of the three programs available to all federal student loan borrowers.

Income-Driven Repayment Plan Forgiveness

Income-driven repayment plans provide a safety net for federal student loan borrowers who can’t keep up with their loan payments on a standard 10-year plan. Plus, they come with an added benefit that no other type of repayment plan does: eventual forgiveness.

Borrowers will have their balance wiped out after making payments for 20+ years.

Typically, the loan amount forgiven is considered taxable income. But that changed with the March 2021 American Rescue Plan, which made forgiven debt tax-free retroactive to December 2020 through the end of 2025.

President Biden included a provision in his budget proposal in March to make that change permanent.

The Education Department is reviewing borrowers’ accounts to increase their payment count toward IDR forgiveness by crediting them for payments made under any plan and instances where their accounts were in long-term forbearances and deferments. It’s doing this partly to make up for problems with forbearance steering and tracking borrowers’ progress towards income-based repayment forgiveness.

The department estimates it’ll be done with this one-time waiver around the beginning of 2023.

Learn More: IDR Waiver Student Loans

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Chiropractors who work full-time for the government or a nonprofit healthcare provider for 10 years can have their entire federal student loan balance wiped out tax-free. And for a limited time, the Education Department is allowing anyone who worked in public service after Oct. 1, 2007, to get credit towards PSLF even if they had the wrong types of loans, made payments under the wrong plan, been in forbearance, or deferment for years, or never certified their employment previously. Read more about the PSLF Waiver.

Related: PSLF Eligible vs PSLF Qualifying Payments

Unfortunately, many chiropractic college graduates end up working in for-profit, private practices rather than public service and thus miss out on PSLF.

Some chiropractors have attempted to force their way into the PSLF Program in recent years by converting their private chiropractic practice into a nonprofit one. There’s no express rule against it, but there are two major obstacles.

  • You must establish a nonprofit practice that complies with IRS regulations.

  • You must pay yourself a legitimate wage.

After you overcome those two hurdles, you should be eligible for PSLF as long as you make your monthly payments under an IDR plan like IBR or REPAYE. The Education Department will make the final decision on your eligibility.

$10-20k Debt Cancellation

President Biden announced last month that he would reduce borrowers’ student loan debt by $10 thousand if they didn’t receive a Pell Grant, a type of financial aid available to low-income undergraduate students, and by $20 thousand if they did. Americans earning less than $125 thousand or married couples earning less than $250 thousand are eligible for the relief.

Private student loans aren’t eligible for cancellation, but Parent PLUS Loans and Perkins Loans are.

The Education Department will determine your eligibility for this benefit based on the adjusted gross income on your tax return for 2020 or 2021, whichever is lower. Some people will have the forgiveness automatically applied to their accounts. Others will need to apply when the application is made available.

Learn More: $20k student loan forgiveness.

Refinancing Options

Private student loans aren’t eligible for the forgiveness programs listed above. If you need help with those or don’t want to wait for your federal loans to be wiped out, your best path forward may be refinancing with a private lender.

Student loan refinance offers those with good credit scores and income competitive interest rates and favorable repayment terms that can make your monthly payment more affordable.

There’s no limit on how often you can refinance student loans. And most refinance lenders don’t charge an origination fee. So you can keep refinancing to get the best rate and terms.

Bottom Line

Your student loans from chiropractic college can be forgiven, but you’ll have to make payments for at least a decade before it happens. Let’s talk if you have questions about how to maximize your forgiveness options.

UP NEXT: How to Apply for Student Loan Forgiveness?

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