State Programs For Student Loan Forgiveness

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Updated on June 1, 2023

Are you one of the millions of Americans burdened by student loan debt? While federal forgiveness programs provide some relief, they might not fully address your unique situation. Although the Biden Administration has made strides, state-based student loan forgiveness programs are here to bridge the gap and offer much-needed assistance.

These targeted programs cater to specific state needs, focusing on high-demand professions (like healthcare, law, and more) or underserved communities. By providing loan repayment support in exchange for a two-year work commitment, they can help erase your remaining balance.

Dive into state-based solutions and uncover tailor-made opportunities to slash or wipe out student loan debt. This not only complements federal forgiveness programs but also maximizes your benefits.

Join us as we navigate the world of state-based student loan forgiveness programs, guiding you toward the debt relief you deserve.

Understanding State-Based Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

State-sponsored forgiveness programs work to reduce or eliminate eligible borrowers’ student loan debt. Complementing federal loan forgiveness options, they address workforce needs, promote careers in high-demand fields, and support residents in achieving financial stability.

Goals and Eligibility

These programs strive to attract and retain skilled professionals in vital fields like healthcare, education, and public service. They aim to boost economic growth and enhance education and career opportunities for underrepresented or disadvantaged groups.

Eligibility criteria differ across programs and states but often encompass factors like residency, employment in specific fields or areas, loan type, minimum service commitment, and educational background.

Applying and Reaping the Benefits

To apply, research state-specific programs, collect necessary documents, complete the required application form, submit it by the deadline, and keep track of your application status. Successful applicants can enjoy reduced or eliminated debt, career opportunities in high-demand sectors, and better financial stability.

Consider the Drawbacks

Be aware of potential drawbacks, such as limited program availability, required service commitment, and possible tax implications of forgiven loan amounts.

Not every state offers programs, and those that do might have limited funding or strict requirements.

Participants often commit to a service period, which could limit career choices or relocation options.

Comparing State-Based and Federal Forgiveness Programs: Key Differences

State and federal student loan forgiveness programs both aim to reduce or eliminate debt for eligible borrowers, but they have key differences that may influence your decision:


  • Federal programs like Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and Teacher Loan Forgiveness apply nationwide.

  • State-based programs cater to specific state residents or workers.


  • Federal programs usually offer broader criteria.

  • State programs focus on particular professions or regional needs.

Loan Types:

  • Federal forgiveness covers federal student loans.

  • State programs may address state-issued or mixed federal and state loans.

Forgiveness Terms:

  • Forgiveness amounts and required years of service vary between state and federal programs.

Application Process:

  • Federal programs are managed by the U.S. Department of Education.

  • State programs are administered by state agencies or designated organizations.

Weighing Pros and Cons: State vs. Federal Forgiveness Programs

Consider these advantages and disadvantages when deciding between state and federal forgiveness programs:

State Forgiveness Programs


  • Tailored to local workforce needs and priorities

  • More opportunities for specific fields or underserved areas

  • Targeted financial relief for residents of specific states


  • Limited availability depending on the state

  • More restrictive eligibility criteria or funding limitations

  • Potential conflicts with federal forgiveness program requirements

Federal Forgiveness Programs


  • Nationwide availability

  • Broader eligibility criteria for more borrowers

  • Well-established and recognized programs


  • Longer service commitments or stricter repayment plan requirements

  • Less targeted to specific professions or regional needs

  • Limited to federal student loans only

How to Choose the Right Program for You

Determine the best student loan forgiveness program for your situation by considering these factors:

  • Loan Type: Are your loans federal, state-issued, or a combination of both? This affects your eligibility.

  • Employment and Location: Are you in a high-demand field or underserved area or willing to move for a specific program?

  • Program Requirements: Can you commit to the service or employment requirements and potentially sacrifice career flexibility?

  • Financial Impact: Assess each program’s financial benefits, including forgiveness amount, tax implications, and impact on other financial goals.

Explore State-Based Forgiveness Programs

Here’s a one-stop resource for exploring and comparing state-based student loan forgiveness options.

We’ve compiled a list of programs for each state, but remember this list may change as states update their policies. Always double-check the current status of any program you’re considering.

Not satisfied with your state’s offerings? No problem! Investigate state and city-sponsored student loan repayment assistance programs in other states. Many areas offer student loan repayment incentives, particularly for those working in public service jobs like teaching and healthcare.

Click on the state name to access our in-depth review of that state’s programs:

  1. Alabama – One program

  2. Alaska – One program

  3. Arizona – Three programs

  4. Arkansas – Two programs

  5. California – Three programs

  6. Colorado – Four programs

  7. Connecticut – Seven programs (only one funded)

  8. Delaware – One program

  9. District of Columbia – Two programs

  10. Florida – Two programs

  11. Georgia – One program

  12. Hawaii – One program

  13. Idaho – One program

  14. Illinois – Five programs

  15. Indiana – Four programs

  16. Iowa – Six programs

  17. Kansas – Three programs

  18. Kentucky – One program

  19. Louisiana – Three programs

  20. Maine – Several programs

  21. Maryland – Four programs

  22. Massachusetts – One program

  23. Michigan – Three programs

  24. Minnesota – Many programs

  25. Mississippi – One program

  26. Missouri – Three programs

  27. Montana – One program

  28. Nebraska – One program

  29. Nevada – One program

  30. New Hampshire – Two programs

  31. New Jersey – Three programs

  32. New Mexico – Three programs

  33. New York – Nine programs

  34. North Carolina – Three programs

  35. North Dakota – No programs

  36. Ohio – Two programs

  37. Oklahoma – Three programs

  38. Oregon – Three programs

  39. Pennsylvania – Three programs

  40. Rhode Island – Three programs

  41. South Carolina – One program

  42. South Dakota – One program

  43. Tennessee – Four programs

  44. Texas – Nine programs

  45. Utah – No funded programs

  46. Vermont – Five programs

  47. Virginia – Three programs

  48. Washington – One program

  49. West Virginia – One program

  50. Wisconsin – Two programs

  51. Wyoming – Two programs

Explore the available state-based student loan forgiveness programs by clicking on the state links above. Stay informed about program changes and consider how they can supplement federal forgiveness options to maximize your benefits.

Related: What States Are Included In Navient Loan Forgiveness?

Biden Administration’s Forgiveness Policies: An Overview

Last year, President Biden revealed a student loan forgiveness plan that would cancel up to $20,000 in federal loans for eligible Pell Grant recipients. However, a lawsuit filed by Missouri and five other states put the plan on hold until the Supreme Court decides.

At first, the Department of Education stated loans under certain programs held by private lenders, such as Federal Family Education Loans serviced by Navient, would be eligible for debt forgiveness. Borrowers needed to consolidate their debt into the federal Direct Loan program. But after the lawsuit, the department changed its stance. Now, only loans consolidated before September 29th receive relief.

If you haven’t consolidated your privately held federal student loans yet, you might miss the $20,000 loan cancellation opportunity.

Alternative Relief Options

The Biden administration and the Department of Education are exploring other ways to deliver student loan relief, such as:

  • Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program: The PSLF Program rules were temporarily relaxed during the pandemic, resulting in 453,000 student loan borrowers having their debt forgiven. Public servants, including those working full-time for government agencies, nonprofit organizations, or other qualifying employers, had a deadline last Halloween to submit updated employment certification forms and get retroactive credit for qualifying payments.

  • Income-Driven Repayment Plan Waiver: Millions of borrowers receive extra credit toward income-based repayment plan forgiveness, including time spent in repayment, long-term forbearances, and some deferment periods. Those with Parent PLUS Loans or privately-held FFEL and Perkins Loans must first consolidate into a Direct Consolidation Loan through the Federal Student Aid website, The Department of Education is working with loan servicers to implement these changes by early 2024.

  • Disability Forgiveness: Simplified process for borrowers with total and permanent disabilities to get their student loans discharged.

  • Teacher Loan Forgiveness: Teachers working five consecutive years in low-income schools can get up to $5,000 or $17,500 of their student loans forgiven, depending on their subject area.

  • New Repayment Plan: Once released this summer, the new IDR plan will significantly reduce future monthly payments for lower- and middle-income borrowers.

Stay Informed on Policy Changes

Keep up-to-date on federal and state student loan forgiveness policy changes by:

  • Government websites: Visiting official federal and state government websites for accurate, current information.

  • News sources: Following reputable news outlets covering education and student loan topics.

  • Professional organizations: Joining organizations that share updates and resources related to student loan forgiveness.

  • Financial aid office: Contacting your alma mater’s financial aid office or a local college for guidance on programs and policy changes.

Visualizing Average Student Loan Debt by State

To help you visualize the student loan debt landscape across the United States, we’ve included a map illustrating the average student loan debt by state. This map offers valuable insight into the financial burden faced by graduates. It emphasizes the potential benefits of state-based forgiveness programs.

Key Takeaways from the Map

A closer examination of the map uncovers several noteworthy trends and observations:

  1. Regional disparities: Certain regions show higher average student loan debt due to increased education costs, state financial aid availability, and local economic conditions.

  2. High-debt states: Graduates in these states should focus on exploring available state-based forgiveness programs to seek financial relief.

  3. Low-debt states: Even in states with lower average student loan debt, researching forgiveness options remains essential for achieving financial well-being.

Bottom Line 

State-based student loan forgiveness programs present valuable opportunities to reduce or even eliminate student loan debt. By understanding the distinctions between state and federal programs and staying up-to-date on policy changes, you can make informed decisions tailored to your financial situation.

Explore the unique programs offered in each state by clicking on the provided links to our comprehensive review articles. Consider how state-based programs can supplement federal forgiveness programs to maximize your benefits.

For recent graduates or parents supporting a child’s education, gaining knowledge about student loan forgiveness programs is crucial for making well-informed decisions and reaching financial freedom.

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Does student loan forgiveness apply to state loans?

Yes, state student loan forgiveness programs are specifically designed to address state-issued loans. However, eligibility and the types of loans covered can vary depending on the program and the state offering it. Research the forgiveness programs in your state to determine which options apply to your state loans.

Are state student loans considered federal student loans?

No, state student loans and federal student loans are distinct. The federal government funds federal student loans through the Department of Education. In contrast, state student loans are issued by individual states or state-affiliated organizations. Recognizing these loan types' differences is vital, as it can affect your eligibility for various forgiveness programs.