The Ultimate Guide to Student Loan Forgiveness and Repayment for Law Enforcement

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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

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From correctional officers to state police and federal agents, law enforcement isn’t an easy job. Members of law enforcement often face high stress and high risk — often without high pay to match.

A border patrol officer working for Homeland Security, for instance, earns just under $37,000 annually. But on the other end of the pay scale, FBI agents are among the top earners, with an average salary just over $136,000.

However, law enforcement jobs are often competitive, and the BLS projects slower job growth in law enforcement than in other sectors. Additionally, because pay varies so widely, as do educational requirements, law enforcement professionals might find themselves facing student loan payments they can’t afford.

Fortunately, there are several options to reduce how much you pay on your student debt. Use this guide to see if you could qualify for student loan forgiveness for law enforcement officers or other repayment options.

1. Public Service Loan Forgiveness for law enforcement

Most law enforcement professionals work for a government agency, which means they can qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). This program started in 2007 and offers student loan forgiveness for law enforcement officers and others who work with the public providing important services.

Under PSLF, law enforcement officers who make 120 on-time payments on federal student debt while working full-time for a government or other qualifying organization can have their debt forgiven.

Law enforcement departments and agencies that qualify for PSLF

Whether your student loans can be forgiven through Public Service Loan Forgiveness depends primarily on where you work. Your employer has to meet eligibility requirements for offering a public service.

For law enforcement officers, working for a qualified employer is standard. Government organizations that enforce laws at all levels can qualify you for PSLF. Employers from tribal and city police, county sheriff departments, state police, and all the way up to federal agencies should qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

These government law enforcement departments and agencies include the following (as well as others):

  • Bureau of Indian Affairs Police
  • Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
  • City police departments
  • College and university police
  • County sheriff offices
  • Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP)
  • National Park Service Rangers and Police
  • National Security Agency (NSA)
  • Naval Criminal Investigative Service
  • State prison facilities or departments of corrections
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
  • U.S. Marshals Service
  • U.S. Secret Service

This list is not comprehensive but is a good place to start. However, you can rest assured that employment by just about any government organization will qualify you for PSLF.

Additionally, Public Service Loan Forgiveness for law enforcement includes all department employees, not just officers. All government employees qualify for PSLF even if they don’t have duties directly related to law enforcement or criminal justice.

Make sure your law enforcement employer qualifies

Law enforcement professionals who work for a 501(c)(3) nonprofit might also qualify for PSLF. For instance, police for private universities that are 501(c)(3)s would qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Other organizations that offer public service might also meet requirements for PSLF, though guidelines are less clear for these employers. And in some cases, law enforcement-related jobs for private sector employers might not qualify, like correctional officers at for-profit prison firms.

If you’re not sure whether your employer meets PSLF requirements, it’s best to submit a PSLF employment certification form to check.

Make sure you meet PSLF requirements, too

Your employer is a big part of whether you’ll qualify for PSLF. But there are also some requirements that you will need to meet to be eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness:

  • Have qualifying federal student loans. This includes Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans and Direct Grad PLUS loans. If your loans don’t qualify, you might be able to consolidate your federal student loans to make them eligible for forgiveness.
  • Work full-time (30+ hours a week) for a qualified employer. You can even qualify if you have multiple part-time jobs with qualified employers. You must be working a combined 30 hours or more for these employers.
  • Make 120 monthly student loan payments. These must be on-time (no more than 15 days late) and can be on any repayment schedule.

Switch to a cheaper repayment plan

If you’re planning to take this path to student loan forgiveness for law enforcement, it will benefit you most if you switch to a different repayment plan. After graduating, student loans default to the Standard Repayment Plan, which amortizes payments over 10 years.

Yet PSLF only forgives any remaining balance after 120 payments — equal to 10 years. So if you stick to the Standard Repayment schedule, you’ll actually finish repaying your loans just as they become eligible for forgiveness.

That’s where changing your repayment plan comes in. If you have a lower income, switching to an income-driven repayment plan will probably give you the most affordable monthly payments.

If your income is too high to qualify for an income-driven repayment plan, you might still be eligible for other repayment plans with lower payments, such as an Extended Repayment Plan.

2. Federal Perkins loans forgiveness for law enforcement

Unlike federal student loans, Perkins loans are administered and disbursed by your college or university. While the Perkins Loan program expired in September, 2017, old Perkins Loans are still eligible for forgiveness. Schools must offer 100 percent student loan forgiveness to law enforcement officers and corrections working full-time — including interest.

To get Perkins loan forgiveness, you’ll need to be employed full-time as a law enforcement or corrections officer. You will have to prove your employing law enforcement agency is eligible, and that your role is central to its mission.

If you think you qualify for Perkins loan forgiveness, you can apply for it through your school. Contact your school’s billing or student loan office to get the correct paperwork to apply.

Complete the necessary paperwork and include all documents and information requested, including proof of qualifying employment. Submit these by the deadline. Your college will process the request and determine if you’re eligible for partial or full Perkins Loan cancellation.

If you’re approved, a portion of these loans will be forgiven each year for full forgiveness over five years:

  • First year: 15 percent cancellation
  • Second year: 15 percent cancellation
  • Third year: 20 percent cancellation
  • Fourth year: 20 percent cancellation
  • Fifth year: 30 percent cancellation

Perkins loan repayment is automatically deferred during employment that qualifies you for forgiveness. The forgiveness will be applied until the loan is fully forgiven, or until your employment ends, at which time repayment will resume.

3. Income-driven repayment plan forgiveness

Most law enforcement officers can qualify for student loan forgiveness through PSLF or Perkins loan cancellation. However, that’s not always the case. If you can’t take advantage of these options or are ineligible for some reason, an income-driven repayment plan can be a venue for student loan forgiveness.

Income-driven repayment plans adjust your monthly payments according to your income level. For some plans, your cost of living is also taken into account. These plans also offer forgiveness after 20 to 25 years, ensuring your student debt doesn’t follow you around for the rest of your life.

Another major benefit of income-driven repayment plans is that you can quickly adjust your payments downward if your income drops. For law enforcement, this can provide assistance when they need it most.

Officers might face periods of unemployment, leave without pay, or local or federal furlough. If you’re already enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan and you lose income due to these or other reasons, you can request that payments immediately be lowered to match your lessened income.

4. Student loan forgiveness for death or permanent disability

Law enforcement officers face greater on-the-job risk of serious injury than most workers. Their duties “can be physically demanding, stressful, and dangerous,” according to the BLS.

Law enforcement members should know what happens to their student debt should the worst happen to them. While facing these work hazards, student loan rules that protect against death and disability become even more important.

Student loan forgiveness for law enforcement also includes loan cancellation following death or total and permanent disability. In fact, any borrower who becomes permanently disabled, including on-duty law enforcement members, can get federal student loans canceled.

To get a student loan discharge due to disability, you will need to submit an application for discharge and submit documentation of your disability. You can start the process at the official site DisabilityDischarge.com.

Hopefully, you will never need to request loan forgiveness following a disability. But knowing that this protection exists can give peace of mind that should anything happen to you, student debt repayment won’t pass to family members or a spouse.

Other options to manage student loans

If you can qualify for PSLF or other student loan forgiveness for law enforcement, these can be the most affordable ways to handle student debt.

However, not every law enforcement worker will be eligible for student loan forgiveness. You might have private student loans that don’t have the same protections federal student loans provide. Depending on your financial goals and student loan types, you might be able to pay less in total loan costs by exploring other options.

Consider refinancing student loans

One of these options is refinancing student loans. While federal student loans have many options to lower your monthly payments, there are few ways to directly lower the actual cost of your loan — the interest you’re charged on your debt.

But refinancing your student loans is one way to get a lower student loan rate. When you refinance student loans, you take out a new private student loan to replace your current debt. If you can secure a lower interest rate, it will help you save money and get out of student debt faster.

However, refinancing student loans doesn’t always make sense. If you’re counting on PSLF, refinancing your student loans with a private lender will make them ineligible for forgiveness. You will also lose access to important protections, such as IDR plans.

However, refinancing student loans might be worth looking into, especially if you have student loans with interest rates of 5 percent or higher. You can even choose to only refinance the student loans with the highest interest rates.

Look into federal student loan repayment plans

Besides IDR, there are other options to lower your federal student loan payments. These include the following:

  • Direct Consolidation Loan: Replace your existing student loans with a new single federal student loan that has a weighted average interest rate. At the time of consolidation, you can choose a new repayment period of up to 30 years.
  • Graduated Repayment Plan: Your payments are initially set low, then gradually increase every two years. Repayment periods last 10 years.
  • Extended Repayment Plan: If you have more than $30,000 in student loans, you can choose an Extended Repayment Plan. This will amortize repayment over a longer period, up to 25 years, for lower monthly costs.

When might these be a good option? If your income is too high to effectively lower payments through an income-driven repayment plan, these options can help. These plans are not affected by income level.

For law enforcement officers with high income, getting on one of these plans will help them meet the requirements of PSLF while still lowering monthly costs.

Don’t miss out on student loan forgiveness for law enforcement officers

Overall, the options for student loan forgiveness for law enforcement are fairly robust — and many law enforcement officers and workers will qualify for these programs. If you’re a law enforcement officer or agent, it’s likely you can get student loan forgiveness.

Take time to understand your options, how they work, and ensure that you do qualify. Then take full advantage of such opportunities.

With the high stress and long hours of law enforcement, you deserve every form of compensation you can get — including student loan forgiveness.

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1 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

  1. VARIABLE APR – APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes.

2 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student Loan RefinanceFixed rates from 3.999% APR to 7.804% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.480% APR to 7.524% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.480% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 2.07% plus 0.91% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR 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. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

  1. Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). The following table displays the estimated monthly payment, total interest, and Annual Percentage Rates (APR) for a $10,000 loan. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) shown for each in-school loan product reflects the accruing interest, the effect of one-time capitalization of interest at the end of a deferment period, a 2% origination fee, and the applicable Repayment Plan. All loans are eligible for a 0.25% reduction in interest rate by agreeing to automatic payment withdrawals once in repayment, which is reflected in the interest rates and APRs displayed. Variable rates may increase after consummation. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.08% effective July 25, 2018.

4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Education Refinance Loan Rate DisclosureVariable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.07%. Variable interest rates range from 2.72%-8.17% (2.72%-8.17% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Fixed interest rates range from 3.50%-8.69% (3.50% – 8.69% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Lowest rates shown require application with a cosigner, are for eligible, creditworthy applicants with a graduate level degree, require a 5-year repayment term and include our Loyalty discount and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. 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. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of their loan.
  2. Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer with the Education Refinance Loan. Borrowers should carefully review their current benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans and replace those with the benefits of the Education Refinance Loan. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision at http://www.citizensbank.com/EdRefinance, including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
  3. Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan Eligibility: Eligible applicants may not be currently enrolled, must be in repayment of their existing student loan(s) and must make the minimum number of payments after leaving school. Primary borrowers must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. Resident aliens must apply with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The co-signer (if applicable) must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer will be required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Education Refinance Loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, certification of borrower’s student loan amount(s) and highest degree earned.
  4. Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  5. Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
  6. Co-signer Release: Borrowers may apply for co-signer release after making 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest. For the purpose of the application for co-signer release, on-time payments are defined as payments received within 15 days of the due date. Interest only payments do not qualify. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co-signer release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on-time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. The borrower applying for co-signer release must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If an application for co-signer release is denied, the borrower may not reapply for co-signer release until at least one year from the date the application for co-signer release was received. Terms and conditions apply.
  7. Average savings based on 18,113 actual customers who refinanced their federal and private student loans through our Education Refinance Loan between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017. The calculation is derived by averaging the monthly savings of Education Refinance Loan customers whose payments decreased after refinancing, which is calculated by taking the monthly student loan payments prior to refinancing minus the monthly student loan payments after refinancing. The borrower’s savings might vary based on the interest rates, balances and remaining repayment term of the loans they are seeking to refinance. The borrower’s overall repayment amount may be higher than the loans they are refinancing even if their monthly payments are lower.
2.57% – 5.87%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Earnest
2.80% – 6.38%1Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Laurel Road
2.48% – 7.52%2Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit SoFi
2.47% – 7.99%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Lendkey
2.57% – 6.65%3Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit CommonBond
2.72% – 8.17%4Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Citizens
Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.