How to Get Rid of Student Loan Payments (or at Least Reduce Them)

 May 28, 2021
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Paying off student loans can be a long and rocky road. Fortunately, there are ways to accelerate the journey if you know how to get out of paying student loans with a loan forgiveness or discharge program.

Now just to be clear, you generally can’t “get out of” owing your debt completely, but forgiveness and discharge can excuse you from paying a sizable chunk of it. If you’re struggling to pay back your student debt, read on to potentially find a program that fits your situation.

How to get out of paying student loans

From income-driven repayment plans to Public Service Loan Forgiveness, the government offers various ways to wipe away your college debt balance. Here are some legitimate ways to get out of student loan debt without paying the entire amount yourself:

1. Income-driven repayment plans
2. Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
3. Perkins loan cancellation and discharge
4. Teacher Loan Forgiveness
5. Student loan repayment assistance
6. Closed school discharge
7. False certification of eligibility/unauthorized payment discharge
8. Unpaid refund discharge
9. Total and permanent disability discharge (TPD)
10. Death discharge
11. Discharge in bankruptcy
● Plus: Final thoughts on student loan forgiveness and discharge

1. Income-driven repayment plans

If you still have a balance at the end of 20 or 25 years on an income-driven repayment plan, it will be forgiven. And at the same time, these plans can decrease your monthly payment, as your regular bill will be capped at a percentage of your discretionary income.

Just keep in mind that stretching your payments over 20 to 25 years may actually end up costing you more in the long run due to interest. Plus, any forgiven amount at the end of the repayment period may be considered taxable income, so you’ll likely have to pay one last bill before saying goodbye to your student loan debt for good.

(Note that the American Rescue Plan waived taxes on student loan forgiveness until 2025.)

2. Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

If you work in public service for 10 years, you could be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.

To qualify, you must work for 10 years in public service for at least 30 hours per week. You must also make at least 120 qualifying monthly payments under one of the income-driven repayment plans. Forgiveness you receive through PSLF is not typically taxed.

That said, the future of the PSLF program isn’t certain, and it could be altered in the years to come.

3. Perkins loan cancellation and discharge

If you have a loan from the now-closed Perkins loan program, you may be able to get out of paying back student debt by volunteering in the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps Vista program, serve in the U.S. armed forces in a hostile area or work in a variety of other professions including teaching, medicine, social service or law enforcement.

4. Teacher Loan Forgiveness

If you’ve been teaching full-time in a school serving a lower-income community, you might be eligible for Teacher Loan Forgiveness. You could have up to 100% of a Perkins loan forgiven and up to $17,500 of a direct loan or Stafford loan forgiven.

5. Student loan repayment assistance

A sizable number of states and universities — and even some employers — offer student loan repayment assistance programs (LRAPs) to qualifying borrowers. Many, though not all, of these LRAPs are designed for professionals in certain fields, such as doctors, pharmacists, veterinarians or teachers.

Often, LRAPs offer financial relief after only one to three years of service. Some universities also offer student loan assistance for qualifying alumni, typically in exchange for working at a nonprofit in a high-need area for a few years. Check with your college or university for details about these types of programs.

In addition, certain companies offer a student loan benefit to their employees, matching a percentage of their payments each month. Depending on where you live and work, you could potentially qualify for assistance that can help you pay off your student debt.

6. Closed school discharge

If your school closes before you can finish your program, then you might be eligible for a closed school discharge of your student loan debt. To qualify, you must either be enrolled when the school closes or have withdrawn from the school less than 120 days prior to its closing.

If you did have a chance to finish your program before the school closed, and all you need is the diploma or certificate, you won’t be eligible for this discharge.

7. False certification of student eligibility or unauthorized payment discharge

Did your school make false certifications about your eligibility for the loan, or sign your name on an application or promissory note without your permission? Did they endorse a loan check without your knowledge, then fail to give you the proceeds or put the payment toward your loan?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, find out more about how you may be able to get out of student loan debt through this option. You may be eligible for this type of discharge.

8. Unpaid refund discharge

If you withdraw, the school may owe a refund to the U.S. Department of Education or lender. If the school fails to provide this refund, you may be eligible for a discharge although it will only cover the unpaid refund amount.

9. Total and permanent disability discharge (TPD)

Are you a veteran with a service-connected disability? Are you receiving Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income? Has a medical condition prevented you from engaging in any “substantial gainful activity” for the past 60 months (or could expect to do so in the next 60 months)? Could this condition be expected to result in death?

You may be eligible for total and permanent disability discharge. Be sure to check out how to get out of paying student loans through this program.

10. Death discharge

It’s grim, but worth noting: If the borrower dies, the loan is discharged. The same is true of parents who have PLUS loans, as in this case, if the parent or the student dies, the loan is discharged.

11. Discharge in bankruptcy

It won’t be easy, but it is possible to have your student loans discharged with Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. To be considered, you must initiate an adversary proceeding by filing a complaint to determine dischargeability. It is then up to you to prove that paying back your student loans will cause you undue hardship.

That said, bankruptcy should always be a last resort when considering how to get out of student loan debt. Exhaust every other option for paying back your debts first, student loans included.

Final thoughts on student loan forgiveness and discharge

If you’re struggling with student debt, it might be tempting to walk away from your loans without paying them back. However, ignoring your debt will only make a tough situation worse, since going into default comes with a host of bad consequences that could hurt your finances for years to come.

Instead of ignoring your debt, learn legitimate ways for getting out of student debt without paying the entire balance yourself. Forgiveness programs could offer relief, as could student loan assistance offered by your state, university or employer.

And if you have special circumstances, such as a closed school or permanent disability, you may want to apply to certain programs to get your loan discharged. Make sure to read over the details of any forgiveness or discharge program to ensure you’re on track toward meeting all the criteria.

Even if you can’t qualify for any of these options, look for other ways to manage your student loans. For example, there are some relatively easy side hustles out there that can pull in some cash for extra payments, which can help you get rid of your debt faster and save money on interest.

You can also look into student loan refinancing to see if you could snag a lower interest rate on your debt or trim your monthly payment amount. By researching your options, you could save yourself a good deal of money.

Rebecca Safier contributed to this report.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 9 lenders of 2022!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
1.74% – 8.70%1Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Splash

1.74% – 7.99%2Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Earnest

4.44% – 8.09%3Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit CommonBond

1.74% – 7.99%4Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit SoFi

1.89% – 5.90%5Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Laurel Road

1.74% – 7.99%6Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit NaviRefi

1.90% – 5.25%7Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Lendkey

1.86% – 6.01%Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Elfi

& Graduate

Visit PenFed

Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.

Splash Financial Disclosures

Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount

The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.

To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of May 4, 2022.

2 Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

Student Loan Refinance Interest Rate Disclosure Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 2.99% APR to 8.24% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 1.99% APR to 8.24% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Earnest variable interest rate student loan refinance loans are based on a publicly available index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The variable rate is based on the rate published on the 25th day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month, rounded to the nearest hundredth of a percent. The rate will not increase more than once per month. The maximum rate for your loan is 8.95% if your loan term is 10 years or less. For loan terms of more than 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95%. Please note, we are not able to offer variable rate loans in AK, IL, MN, NH, OH, TN, and TX. Let us know if you have any questions and feel free to reach out directly to our team.

3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. ‍All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.15% effective Apr 22, 2021 and may increase after consummation.

4 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

Fixed rates range from 3.49% APR to 7.99% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Variable rates from 1.74% APR to 7.99% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law, Variable Interest rates on 5-, 7-, and 10-year terms are capped at 8.95% APR; 15- and 20-year terms are capped at 9.95% APR. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, presence of a co-signer and a variety of other factors. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. For the SoFi variable-rate product, the variable interest rate for a given month is derived by adding a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). APRs for variable-rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. This benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit lowers your interest rate but does not change the amount of your monthly payment. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi.

5 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

All credit products are subject to credit approval.

Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit

As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.

  1. Checking your rate with Laurel Road only requires a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
  2. Savings vary based on rate and term of your existing and refinanced loan(s). Refinancing to a longer term may lower your monthly payments, but may also increase the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Refinancing to a shorter term may increase your monthly payments, but may lower the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Review your loan documentation for total cost of your refinanced loan.
  3. After loan disbursement, if a borrower documents a qualifying economic hardship, we may agree in our discretion to allow for full or partial forbearance of payments for one or more 3-month time periods (not to exceed 12 months in the aggregate during the term of your loan), provided that we receive acceptable documentation (including updating documentation) of the nature and expected duration of the borrower’s economic hardship. During any period of forbearance interest will continue to accrue. At the end of the forbearance period, any unpaid accrued interest will be capitalized and be added to the remaining principle amount of the loan.
  4. Automatic Payment (“AutoPay”) Discount: if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically from a bank account, the interest rate will decrease by 0.25% and will increase back if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically from the borrower’s bank account. The 0.25% AutoPay discount will not reduce the monthly payment; instead, the discount is applied to the principal to help pay the loan down faster.

Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.

Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.

Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.

Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.


This information is current as of April 29, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.

6 Important Disclosures for Navient.

Navient Disclosures

You can choose between fixed and variable rates. Fixed interest rates are 2.99% – 8.24% APR (2.74% – 7.99% APR with Auto Pay discount). Starting variable interest rates are 1.99% APR to 8.24% APR (1.74% – 7.99% APR with Auto Pay discount). Variable rates are based on an index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) plus a margin. Variable rates are reset monthly based on the fluctuation of the index. We do not currently offer variable rate loans in AK, CO, CT, HI, IL, KY, MA, MN, MS, NH, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, and VA.

7 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Refinancing via is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it  endorse,  any educational institution.

Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of  5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.

As of 11/15/2021 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.90% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.49% APR – 7.75% Fixed APR with AutoPay.

8 Important Disclosures for PenFed.

PenFed Disclosures

Fixed Rate Loan Terms: 5 years/60 monthly payments, 8 years/96 monthly payments, 12 years/144 monthly payments or 15 years/180 monthly payments. Annual Percentage Rate is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed rates range from 3.29% to 5.43% APR. Rates are subject to change without notice. Fixed APR: Fixed rates will not change during the term. This rate is expressed as an APR. Since there are no fees associated with this loan offer, the APR is the same percentage as the actual interest rate of the loan. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.