Do You Qualify for Student Loan Forgiveness or Discharge?
Federal student loans offer benefits that many other loans don't. One benefit is the ability to qualify for loan forgiveness—under special circumstances, the federal government may forgive part, or all, of your federal student loans. This means you're no longer obligated to make your loan payments. Another benefit is there may be some situations where you may qualify to have your loans discharged.
These are some of the most common types of loan forgiveness and discharge.
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness (and Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness)
- Teacher Loan Forgiveness
- Closed School Discharge
- Total and Permanent Disability Discharge
Note this is not a complete list , and you need to meet certain requirements and provide specific information to qualify.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
If you are employed by a government or nonprofit organization, you may be able to receive loan forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program.
The PSLF Program forgives the remaining balance on your Direct Loans* after you have made 120 qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer.
Complete the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Form With the PSLF Help Tool
The PSLF Help Tool helps determine whether you work for a qualifying employer for the PSLF or Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF) programs, suggests actions you can take to become eligible for PSLF, and guides you through the PSLF form and submission process.
Important Limited PSLF Waiver
On October 6, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education's office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) announced a temporary period during which borrowers may receive credit for payments that previously did not qualify for PSLF or TEPSLF. This change will apply to student loan borrowers with Direct Loans, those who have already consolidated into the Direct Loan Program, and those who consolidate into the Direct Loan Program by October 31, 2022. For more information on the limited PSLF waiver, visit Studentaid.gov/pslfwaiver .
Key Points: Summary of Changes Under the Limited PSLF Waiver
- For a limited time, you may receive credit for past periods of repayment on loans that would otherwise not qualify for PSLF.
- For a limited time, you can receive forgiveness even if not employed by a qualifying employer at the time of application and forgiveness.
- If you have Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL), Perkins, or other federal student loans, you'll need to consolidate them into a Direct Consolidation Loan to qualify for PSLF both in general and under the waiver (and to receive qualifying credit for previous payments made on those loans through the limited PSLF waiver, you'll need to receive or apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan on or before October 31, 2022). Before consolidating, make sure to check to see if you work for a qualifying employer.
- Past periods of repayment will now count regardless of repayment plan, whether the payment was made in full or on time, and whether the payment was made prior to consolidation.
- Forbearance periods of 12 consecutive months or greater, or 36 cumulative months or greater will count under the waiver. In fall 2022, FSA will begin making account adjustments to include these periods. Forbearance periods provided by the COVID-19 student loan relief measures are not included toward these months since they are already counted toward PSLF eligibility.
- Months spent in deferment before 2013 will count under the waiver. Additionally, FSA will include Economic Hardship Deferment on or after January 1, 2013. These periods of deferment will also be applied to your account in fall 2022.
- Periods of default and in-school deferment still do not qualify.
The qualifying employment requirement has not changed.
Note: Servicing for the PSLF Program is managed by another federal student loan servicer (MOHELA ). If you enroll in PSLF, your eligible loans will be transferred from Great Lakes to the PSLF servicer. If your loans have already been transferred to the PSLF servicer, you can log in to their borrower portal to track your PSLF payment counts.
Also note: if you received Teacher Loan Forgiveness, under the limited PSLF waiver, the period of service that led to your eligibility will count toward PSLF (if you certify employment for PSLF for that period). Refer to StudentAid.gov's Limited PSLF Waiver page and contact us to discuss whether you may be eligible to receive PSLF under the temporary waiver. Act soon — the waiver ends October 31, 2022.
* Any loan received under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program qualifies for PSLF.
Loans from these federal student loan programs don't qualify for PSLF: the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program and the Federal Perkins Loan (Perkins Loan) Program. However, they would become eligible if you consolidate them into a Direct Consolidation Loan.
Student loans from private lenders do not qualify for PSLF.
Under normal PSLF Program rules, if you consolidate your loans, only qualifying payments that you make on the new Direct Consolidation Loan can be counted toward the 120 payments required for PSLF. Any payments you made on the loans before you consolidated them don't count. However, if you consolidate these loans into a Direct Loan before October 31, 2022, you may be able to receive qualifying credit for payments made on those loans through the limited PSLF waiver. Learn more .
Teacher Loan Forgiveness
If you teach full-time for five complete and consecutive academic years in a low-income elementary school, secondary school, or educational service agency, you may be eligible for forgiveness of up to $17,500 on your Direct Loan program loans. See StudentAid.gov/teach-forgive for more information and a form you can fill out when you have completed your teaching service.
Learn more about the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program, eligibility requirements, and how to apply. (If you aren't already logged in, you'll be asked to do so.)
Note: Under normal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program rules, you may not receive a benefit for the same qualifying payments or period of service for Teacher Loan Forgiveness and PSLF. However, under the limited PSLF waiver, the period of service that led to your eligibility for Teacher Loan Forgiveness will count toward PSLF (if you certify employment for PSLF for that period). Refer to StudentAid.gov's Limited PSLF Waiver page and contact us to discuss whether you may be eligible to receive PSLF under the temporary waiver. Act soon — the waiver ends October 31, 2022.
Closed School Discharge
If your school closes while you're enrolled or soon after you withdraw, you may be eligible for a discharge of your federal student loan. For example, ITT and Corinthian College recently closed and qualified students were eligible for loan discharge. Learn more about the process, eligibility requirements , and how you can apply.
Borrower Defense to Repayment
If you believe that the school you attended misled you or engaged in misconduct in violation of certain laws, the federal student loans you obtained to attend that school may be eligible for forgiveness, called Borrower Defense to Repayment. Learn more about the process, eligibility requirements and how you can apply .
Total and Permanent Disability Discharge
Learn more about the Total and Permanent Disability Discharge process , eligibility requirements, and how to apply.
Note: Servicing for this process is managed by another federal student loan servicer. If you apply for a Total and Permanent Disability Discharge, your eligible loans will be transferred from Great Lakes to that servicer.
Not Eligible for Total and Permanent Disability?
If you believe you qualify for one of the programs other than the Total and Permanent Disability Discharge, complete and submit a loan forgiveness, cancellation, or discharge application form. (If you aren't already logged in, you'll be asked to do so.)
All forms are in Portable Document Format (PDF). In order to view PDF files, you must first download the free Acrobat Reader software. Detailed instructions for downloading and installing the Acrobat Reader are located on the Adobe website .
Not finding the right repayment option?
Not everyone follows the same path while in school, or afterward when you're expected to pay back your loans.
Learn more about other repayment options to find the one that best fits your circumstances.
Free Expert Help!
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