Here’s how 9 million student loan borrowers can qualify for student loan forgiveness.
Here’s what you need to know — and what it means for your student loans.
A staggering new report shows that 9 million student loan borrowers now qualify for student loan forgiveness. That’s an important student loan debt statistic because it represents nearly 20% of student loan borrowers. The new data, which the Student Borrower Protection Center released, focuses on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which represents one of the best ways to get student loan forgiveness in the least amount of time. That said, student loan borrowers have struggled in recent years to qualify. Why? Requirements have been confusing, which, at times, has resulted in up to a 99% rejection rate. How can you qualify for this student loan forgiveness? Let’s make it easy for you.
Student loan forgiveness: how to qualify
Congress created the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program in 2007 to encourage more student loan borrowers to enter public service. In exchange, student loan borrowers can get total student loan forgiveness of their federal student loans. The program is currently open to all federal student loan borrowers, and it’s not too late to apply. Here are the key requirements to qualify for student loan forgiveness:
- Have Direct Loans;
- If you don’t have Direct Loans, you must consolidate your federal student loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan;
- Work full-time (at least 30 hours per week) for a qualified federal, state, local or tribal public service or non-profit employer;
- Enroll in an income-driven repayment plan such as IBR, PAYE, REPAYE or ICR; and
- Make at least 120 monthly student loan payments;
Student loan cancellation: Q&A
Here are the answers to popular questions about public service loan forgiveness:
Which federal student loans are eligible for public service loan forgiveness?
Only Direct student loans are eligible. This means that FFELP Loans and Perkins Loans are ineligible for public service loan forgiveness. However, you can convert FFELP and Perkins Loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan through student loan consolidation with the U.S. Department of Education, which can make your federal student loans eligible.
What are the major changes to student loan forgiveness?
The Biden administration announced major changes to student loan forgiveness, which will help more student loan borrowers qualify. Principally, Biden relaxed the rules through October 31, 2022. Now, you can count prior student loan payments that were deemed ineligible for student loan forgiveness. This includes, for example, late or partial student loan payments or student loan payments made under the incorrect student loan repayment plan.
How do you apply for public service loan forgiveness?
Contact your federal student loan servicer for more details. Login to the Federal Student Aid website to verify that you work for a qualified employer. You can also check whether you have eligible federal student loans or if you need to make them eligible through student loan consolidation. Importantly, submit an Employer Certification Form to the U.S. Department of Education each year and whenever you change employment.
Are private loans eligible for student loan cancellation?
The Public Servie Loan Forgiveness program applies only to federal student loans.
Will your student loans get canceled?
Once you complete all the requirements for public service loan forgiveness, your remaining federal student loan balance will be forgiven.
Which employers are ineligible for student loan forgiveness?
You can’t get this student loan forgiveness if you work for a for-profit organization, labor union or a partisan political organization.
Can I get student loan forgiveness faster?
Unfortunately, you can’t get student loan forgiveness faster. You must make 120 separate, monthly student loan payments. Therefore, if you meet all the requirements, you should expect to make student loan payments for 10 years to get student loan forgiveness.
How to qualify for student loan forgiveness if you don’t work in public service
There are many ways to get student loan forgiveness. Since becoming president, Joe Biden has canceled $25 billion of student loans. This includes:
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness: $7.3 billion for more than 127,000 student loan borrowers through public service loan forgiveness.
- Borrower Defense To Repayment: $7.9 billion for 690,000 borrowers for borrower defense to student loan repayment and school closures.
- Permanent Disability: More than $8.5 billion for more than 400,000 borrowers who have a total and permanent disability.
You can also get student loan forgiveness through income-driven repayment plans after 20 years (undergraduate student loans) or 25 years (graduate student loans) or monthly student loan payments. Student loan forgiveness is also available for teachers through the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program.
Student loans: next steps
Importantly, public service loan forgiveness is a type of targeted student loan forgiveness. In contrast, wide-scale student loan forgiveness could impact most or all student loan borrowers. Biden is considering broad student loan cancellation for millions of student loan borrowers. However, there is no guarantee that Biden will cancel all or most student loan debt. That said, Biden is contemplating $10,000 of student loan forgiveness and could reconsider a plan to cancel more student loan debt, including up to $50,000. There is no clear timeline for any potential wide-scale student loan cancellation, but Biden could announce a decision before temporary student loan relief ends on August 31, 2022. No matter what the president decides, you should understand all your options for student loan repayment. This can help you save money and get out of debt faster. Here are some great options:
- Student loan refinancing (lower interest rate + lower payment)
- Income-driven repayment (lower payment)
- Student loan forgiveness (federal student loans)