Student Loan Forgiveness – Everything You Need To Know

Student Loan Forgiveness – Student loan debt is a pervasive issue that affects millions of individuals, hindering their financial progress and limiting opportunities for economic growth. However, there are options available for borrowers seeking relief from the burden of student loans.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore various avenues of student loan forgiveness and federal cancellation assistance. We’ll delve into eligibility criteria, application procedures, and provide references to official sources to ensure accurate and reliable information.

Eligible Loans For Student Loan Forgiveness

Only federal student loans held by the Department of Education (ED) qualify for cancellation. The following types of federal student loans with an outstanding balance as of June 30, 2022, are eligible for relief:

  • William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program loans.
  • Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans held by ED or in default at a guaranty agency.
  • Federal Perkins Loan Program loans held by ED.
  • Defaulted loans, including ED-held or commercially serviced Subsidized Stafford, Unsubsidized Stafford, parent PLUS, and graduate PLUS loans, as well as Perkins loans held by ED.

This means that subsidized loans, unsubsidized loans, parent PLUS loans, and graduate PLUS loans held by ED are eligible for cancellation. Federal Direct Consolidation loans are also eligible for relief if all the underlying loans that were consolidated were ED-held loans and were disbursed on or before June 30, 2022.

Consolidation loans that include FFEL or Perkins loans not held by ED are also eligible if the borrower applied for consolidation before September 29, 2022.

Note: To determine if you received a Pell Grant or to identify the type of loans you have, you can log into and select “My Aid” from the dropdown menu under your name.

It’s important to note that private loans, which are non-federal loans, are not eligible for debt relief.

How to apply for student loan Forgiveness 

To apply for student loan debt relief, you can follow these steps:

  • Complete the application form, which is designed to be user-friendly and should only require a few minutes of your time. It’s important to ensure that you provide accurate and complete information. Additionally, if you prefer to complete the application in Spanish, it is also available in that language. The deadline to submit your application is December 31, 2023.

Be cautious of individuals or companies claiming to assist you in obtaining loan discharge, forgiveness, cancellation, or debt relief for a fee. It is essential to know that these are fraudulent schemes. You should never have to pay for assistance regarding your federal student aid. Remember to only seek help from the Department of Education (ED) and your loan servicers. Avoid disclosing your personal information or account password to anyone. Emails from verified sources related to your loans will be sent from addresses such as,, or

Stay vigilant for potential signs that you may be targeted by a student loan cancellation scam. If you receive communication from suspicious entities or encounter any of the warning signs, it’s important to know what to do next.

By following these steps and remaining cautious, you can navigate the process of applying for student loan debt relief while protecting yourself from scammers.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

The PSLF program offers the opportunity to have eligible federal student loans forgiven after making 120 qualifying payments (equivalent to 10 years) while employed by a qualifying public service employer.

If you have worked or are currently working in public service, such as government (federal, U.S. Military, state, local, or tribal) or certain non-profit organizations, you may be eligible for the PSLF program.

For the most up-to-date information and guidance on PSLF, please visit the official website of the Department of Education.

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Qualifying for Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Achieving forgiveness through PSLF requires careful attention to detail. Here are some tips to help you navigate the process smoothly:

Verify your eligibility

 Utilize the PSLF Help Tool, a free resource provided by the U.S. Department of Education (ED), to determine your next steps. Follow the suggested forms and instructions from the tool to document your qualifying employment and ensure that your monthly payments are credited appropriately.

Confirm loan eligibility

Only federal Direct Loans are eligible for forgiveness under PSLF. If you have other federal student loans such as Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) or Perkins Loans, you may be able to qualify for PSLF by consolidating them into a new federal Direct Consolidation Loan. For further information on loan consolidation, refer to the Department of Education’s website.

Maintain payment records

Keep a record of your payments by saving digital receipts or monthly statements for every payment made.

Track your progress

Regularly monitor your progress toward the 120 qualifying payments using the PSLF Help Tool. Ensure that it aligns with your own records. It is not necessary to make the 120 qualifying payments consecutively.

Some borrowers have reported discrepancies between their personal records and the payment tallies provided by their loan servicers. If you encounter this issue, contact your loan servicer to attempt resolution. If necessary, you can also submit a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) or Federal Student Aid (FSA).

Understanding the CARES Act Payment Pause

During the payment pause enacted by the CARES Act, your paused payments will still count towards PSLF if you meet all other qualifying criteria. These payments will be credited as if you had made them on a monthly basis. For more detailed information regarding the payment pause and its impact on PSLF, please visit the Department of Education’s website.

Requesting Credit for Deferments and Forbearances

Deferments prior to 2013 and extended periods of forbearance will automatically be recognized as qualifying payments. If you have experienced shorter forbearances totaling less than 12 months consecutively or less than 36 months in total, you can request credit for these payments by filing a complaint with the FSA Ombudsman.

Note: Changes to Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plans can affect the count of your PSLF loan payments. To learn more about these changes, visit the Department of Education’s website.

Set Yearly Reminders for Paperwork

It is essential to recertify your income-driven repayment plan annually. Additionally, we recommend recertifying your employer each year as well. The PSLF Help Tool will guide you to the appropriate form that needs to be completed and submitted.

Appealing a Denial

If your PSLF or TEPSLF (Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness) request is denied, you can submit an online form to request reconsideration from the Department of Education (ED). Before filling out the form, gather relevant information, such as the dates of the payments you believe should be counted, tax information from your public service employer during that period, and digital proof of your employment and payments, such as W2 forms and letters or statements from your loan servicer.

Avoiding Default

To maintain eligibility for PSLF, it is crucial to prevent your federal loans from entering default. If your loans do go into default, you will need to choose between loan rehabilitation and loan consolidation to get back on track towards qualifying for PSLF. It’s recommended that you compare both options to determine which one suits your circumstances best.

Loan Forgiveness through Income-Driven Repayment (IDR)

Most federal student loans are eligible for one or more income-driven repayment plans. These plans limit your monthly payments based on your income and family size. If your income is low enough, your payments could even be as low as $0 per month.

Depending on the specific IDR plan you choose, any remaining balance on your loans may be forgiven after 20 or 25 years of repayment.

One-time adjustment for IDR loan forgiveness

On April 19, 2022, the Department of Education (ED) announced several changes to bring borrowers closer to forgiveness under IDR plans. As a one-time adjustment, ED will now consider each month spent in repayment, certain deferment periods (prior to 2013), and specific forbearance periods towards loan forgiveness. For some borrowers, these changes mean they will receive additional credit towards loan forgiveness. If you have loans that have been in repayment for over 20 or 25 years, they may immediately qualify for forgiveness.

Borrowers who have made 20 or 25 years’ worth of payments for IDR forgiveness may see their loans forgiven in Spring 2023. ED will continue to discharge loans as borrowers reach the required number of months for forgiveness. All other borrowers will have their loan accounts updated in 2024.

Important: No student loan borrower should ever pay fees to receive credit towards forgiveness. If someone asks for payment to assist with loan forgiveness, it is a scam. What counts towards the 20 or 25 years required for IDR forgiveness?

  • Any months in repayment status, regardless of payment amount, loan type, or repayment plan.
  • 12 or more consecutive months of forbearance or 36 or more cumulative months of forbearance.
  • Months spent in economic hardship or military deferments after 2013.
  • Months in deferment prior to 2013 (except for in-school deferment).
  • Any time spent in repayment before consolidation of consolidated loans.

Which loans qualify for the one-time IDR adjustment?

Only federal student loans managed by the Department of Education (ED) qualify for the one-time IDR adjustment. Borrowers with Direct Loans or federally-managed FFELP loans do not need to take any action to benefit from the one-time account adjustment. Borrowers with ED-held loans that have accumulated at least 20 or 25 years in repayment will receive automatic forgiveness, even if their loans are not currently on an IDR plan.

Borrowers with FFELP loans held by commercial lenders or Perkins loans not held by ED can benefit by consolidating into Direct Loans. To take advantage of the one-time IDR account adjustment, borrowers must consolidate before the end of 2023. Consolidation can be done online or using a paper form to apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan.

Tip: Unsure about the type of loan you have? Log into with your FSA ID and select “My Aid” under your name. This page will display information about your federal loan amounts, including whether they are Direct or commercial FFELP loans. For further assistance, reach out to your student loan servicer.

For more information about the IDR fixes, please visit the Department of Education’s website.

Enrolling in an income-driven repayment plan

If you have a federal student loan, you may be able to enroll in an IDR plan online. The Department of Education’s online IDR plan enrollment website is the best place to start as it will provide information about your loan types and guide you through the enrollment process.

Repayment periods for IDR plans

IDR plans have different repayment periods.

PlanRepayment term and forgiveness
 Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)20 years if all loans you’re repaying under the plan were received for undergraduate study. The remaining balance will be forgiven after 20 years.
25 years if any loans you’re repaying under the plan were received for graduate or professional study. The remaining balance will be forgiven after 25 years.
 Pay As You Earn (PAYE) 20 years. The remaining balance after 20 years will be forgiven.
 Income-Based Repayment (IBR)20 years if you’re a new borrower on or after July 1, 2014. The remaining balance will be forgiven after 20 years.
25 years if you’re not a new borrower on or after July 1, 2014. The remaining balance will be forgiven after 25 years.
 Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) 25 years. The remaining balance will be forgiven after 25 years.

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