#1 Student Loan Lawyer
Updated on October 2, 2022
Hundreds of thousands of borrowers in the past two years have had their private and federal student loan balances wiped out under different debt cancellation settlements and forgiveness programs. Millions more may soon join them if President Biden takes executive action to make good on a campaign promise to cancel $10 thousand in federal student loan debt for all borrowers.
Ahead, learn how to find out if your student loans were discharged based on your situation.
Earlier this year, Navient agreed to write off $1.7 billion in old, defaulted private student loans for 66 thousand people. The company began contacting borrowers in June to let them know their loans would be discharged.
Related: How Do I Know if My Student Loans Were Discharged From Navient?
Most, if not all, of the people whose loans were covered by that settlement, already had their balances cleared. If you still owe money on your private loans, you might need to explore other repayment options, like refinancing or negotiating a settlement.
Around the time Navient struck that deal, it also moved millions of federal student loan borrowers to a new loan servicer, Aidvantage. Read more about the Navient Aidvantage move. Many of those borrowers aren’t eligible for any immediate forgiveness opportunities. But some who work in public service or have been paying federal loans for over 20 years may qualify for the waivers and account adjustments the U.S. Department of Education recently introduced. More on those programs below.
Related: Sallie Mae Loan Forgiveness
Finally, Navient continues to service some older federal student loans made under the Federal Family Education Loan Program. Those FFEL Loans can receive credit towards repayment plan forgiveness for months spent in lengthy forbearances. Read more about forbearance steering.
Learn More: Will Navient Loans Be Forgiven?
If you attended a for-profit school
The Education Department has canceled billions in federal student loans for borrowers defrauded by sham, for-profit schools. Students who attended schools like Corinthian Colleges, DeVry, ITT Tech, and so on have gotten student loan discharges through a once little-used program known as borrower defense to repayment.
Any student who attended a school that broke state consumer protection laws, lied about career services, job placement, etc., can submit a borrower defense claim to have their student debt canceled. But submitting an application doesn’t mean it will be approved. Hundreds of thousands of applications sat unchecked for years during the Trump administration. Then, in Betsy DeVos’ last year as Education Secretary, the department churned out mass denials, rejecting nearly all of the claims that were filed.
The department recently struck a deal to reverse those denials. The agreement is pending final approval by a federal judge. If granted, around 200 thousand people who sought relief after attending schools that showed signs of “substantial misconduct” will have their federal student loans wiped out.
Learn More: Borrower Defense School List
If you worked in public service
Last October, the Biden administration overhauled a student loan forgiveness program for public service employees that had been broken for years. The temporary fixes it put in place softened the eligibility requirements, allowing 145 thousand full-time government and nonprofit employees to receive over $8.1 billion in relief so far.
Forgiveness under this program is nearly automatic for borrowers with Direct Loans. But if you have FFEL or Federal Perkins Loans, you’ll need to consolidate those debts into a Direct consolidation loan and submit an employer certification form before the PSLF Waiver ends on Oct. 31, 2022, to qualify for relief.
Parents who took out PLUS Loans aren’t eligible for the extra benefits the waiver provides. But they still qualify for public service forgiveness after 10 years of work and monthly payments.
Learn More: How to Qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
If you’re disabled
The government will discharge your federal student loan debt if a physical or mental disability prevents you from working. To qualify for a Total and Permanent Disability Discharge, you must provide proof from your doctor, the Social Security Administration, or the Veterans Administration that your disability is permanent and prevents you from holding down full-time work.
Last fall, the Education Department used an existing data match with the SSA to grant automatic discharges to disabled borrowers. Two years ago, it did the same thing for military veterans using VA data. The department plans to continue streamlining the TPD program to make it easier for disabled borrowers to get the relief they’re entitled to receive.
The TPD program is administered by one of the department’s student loan servicers, Nelnet. You can apply online at disabilitydischarge.com.
Learn More: What Disabilities Qualify for Student Loan Forgiveness?
If you filed bankruptcy
Filing bankruptcy doesn’t automatically eliminate your student loans. To discharge federal and private student loans in bankruptcy, you must file a lawsuit known as an adversary proceeding. In that lawsuit, you’ll usually need to prove that you can’t keep up with your student loan payments without suffering undue hardship.
Related: My Student Loans Were Discharged in Chapter 7
Clearing this bar is challenging — especially for federal loans. On the other hand, education loans from private lenders are a bit easier to tackle. But the process is still tricky to navigate. Hiring a student loan bankruptcy lawyer can help.
Learn More: Can You File Bankruptcy on Student Loans?
In addition to the opportunities listed above, the federal government has several other programs that discharge student loans. Check out a complete list of discharge opportunities and the application process on the Federal Student Aid website, studentaid.gov.
Let’s talk if you want to learn more about what discharge and forgiveness opportunities you may benefit from.