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)
- Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) 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 of 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.
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 MOHELA. If your loans have already been transferred to MOHELA, you can log in to their borrower portal to track your PSLF status and payment counts.
* 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. Please note: 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. However, under the IDR account adjustment, if you apply to consolidate your FFEL Program loans into a Direct Loan by May 1, 2023, you will get PSLF credit for qualifying payments made on your FFEL Program loans.
If you applied to consolidate your FFEL Program loans and/or Perkins Loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan by October 31, 2022, and submitted your PSLF form to MOHELA by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on October 31, 2022, be assured your PSLF form will be evaluated under the limited PSLF waiver rules. These time-limited changes to PSLF Program rules allow borrowers to receive credit for past periods of repayment that would otherwise not qualify for PSLF. This opportunity ended on October 31, 2022.
Student loans from private lenders do not qualify for PSLF.
Limited PSLF Waiver: What Happens After the End of the Waiver October 31, 2022
The "limited PSLF waiver" refers to the time-limited changes to Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program rules that allowed borrowers to receive credit for past periods of repayment that would otherwise not qualify for PSLF. This opportunity ended on October 31, 2022. Beginning November 1, 2022, the U.S. Department of Education went back to the normal program requirements for both PSLF and TEPSLF . If you submitted your PSLF form to the PSLF servicer MOHELA by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on October 31, 2022, be assured your PSLF form will be evaluated under the limited PSLF waiver rules.
You may be eligible to submit a PSLF form to MOHELA after October 31, 2022, and continue to qualify for the benefits of the waiver if you met certain criteria. For more information, see StudentAid.gov .
StudentAid.gov/pslfwaiver provides information on the steps borrowers had to take to benefit from the limited PSLF waiver, based on their loan type.
Income-Driven Repayment and Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program Account Adjustment
Read on for information in the next section (Income-Driven Repayment Forgiveness) about a one-time account adjustment that may also benefit borrowers seeking PSLF. You can also download this informative fact sheet from the U.S. Department of Education about this initiative.
Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Forgiveness
Under Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plans , any remaining loan balance is forgiven if a borrower's federal student loans aren't fully repaid at the end of the repayment period (either 20 or 25 years, depending on the type of plan).
For any IDR Plan, periods of economic hardship deferment, periods of repayment under certain other repayment plans, and periods when your required payment is zero will count toward your total repayment period. Whether you will have a balance left to be forgiven at the end of your repayment period depends on a number of factors, such as how quickly your income rises and how large your income is relative to your debt. Because of these factors, you may fully repay your loan before the end of your repayment period. Great Lakes tracks your qualifying monthly payments and years of repayment and will notify you when you are getting close to the point when you would qualify for forgiveness of any remaining loan balance.
Account Adjustments for IDR and PSLF Qualifying Payment Counts
Starting in November 2022, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) began making adjustments to borrower accounts including a one-time revision of IDR and PSLF payment counters. Even borrowers not currently enrolled in an IDR plan who have accumulated time in repayment for at least 20 or 25 years may also qualify for forgiveness as a result of this initiative.
The one-time revision applies to all Direct Loan Program and federally managed Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans. If you have commercially held FFEL loans, you can only benefit from the IDR account adjustment, but only if you consolidate into the Direct Loan Program by May 1, 2023.
If you have made qualifying payments that exceed forgiveness thresholds (20 or 25 years), you will receive a refund for your overpayment. Learn more about this initiative by visiting StudentAid.gov or Great Lakes' IDR Account Adjustment page.
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.
Search for your school in the Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellation Benefits . You can also get the full list of eligibility requirements for this forgiveness program at StudentAid.gov/teacher .
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.)
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.
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