Before we venture further into the complexities of student loan forgiveness, let’s highlight some of the general qualifications you’ll need to meet.
In most cases, forgiveness programs stipulate that you must be working in a specific profession, make a set number of qualifying payments, and hold federal student loans.
Here’s an overview of some of the more popular forgiveness programs:
Income-Driven Repayment Forgiveness (IDR): For those on IDR plans, the magic number for forgiveness generally hits at 20 or 25 years of qualifying payments. This timeline can vary depending on when your loans were disbursed, the type of loan, and the specific plan. As an example of how real this program is, on July 14, the Education Department notified over 800 thousand individuals that their loans would be forgiven under the income-based repayment forgiveness program as part of a waiver they received, irrespective of whether they had made qualifying monthly payments.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF): For the PSLF Program, you’re required to work full-time at a qualifying organization, such as government agencies or 501(c)(3) not-for-profits, and make 120 qualifying student loan payments under an IDR plan toward a Federal Direct Loan. To make this process easier, you can use the PSLF Help Tool on the Federal Student Aid website, StudentAid.gov. This tool will generate the Employment Certification Form that you need to provide to each qualifying employer you’ve worked for since Oct. 1, 2007.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness: Teachers, your dedication and time spent nurturing our future generations could qualify you for Teacher Loan Forgiveness. Five consecutive years of full-time teaching in a low-income school or educational service agency might be your pathway to loan forgiveness. Teachers can apply for this program in addition to the PSLF Program.
Total and Permanent Disability Discharge (TPD): If you’re permanently disabled and unable to engage in substantial gainful activity because of a physical or mental impairment, you may be eligible for a TPD discharge. This allows for the discharge of federal student loans or the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant service obligation.
Borrower Defense to Repayment: If your school misled you or engaged in other misconduct in violation of certain state laws, you may be eligible for forgiveness through the Borrower Defense to Repayment program. This applies to both federal student loans and TEACH Grant service obligations.
Related: Do I Qualify for the Navient Lawsuit?