Refer a friend to refinance their student loans, get $400. Click here to learn more! đź’°đź’°đź’°

The Complete List of Student Loan Forgiveness Programs and Options

guide-to-student-loan-forgiveness

Have you ever wished that your student loans would just go away? While there is no easy way to snap your fingers and have your student loan debt magically disappear, there are ways to get your student loan debt forgiven.

There are various student loan forgiveness programs out there for people that work in public service, education, and more. Some states are even helping debt-saddled graduates with their loans as well.

Whether you’re struggling with six-figure debt or looking for “free money” to pay off your student debt, student loan forgiveness can be a nice alternative.

Get a PDF of the forgiveness programs. Yours to keep forever.


Here is the complete list of student loan forgiveness programs:


1) Public Service Loan Forgiveness

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program is a federal program that assists those working in public service jobs, such as nonprofits, manage their debt loan through forgiveness after 120 payments (ten years).

Who is eligible?

Full-time employees at a federal, state or local government agency as well as nonprofit workers at an organization with a 501(c)(3) designation. For purposes of this program, religious-based work at a non-profit often does not qualify.

Which loans are eligible?

  • Federal Direct Subsidized Stafford/Direct Loans
  • Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford/Direct Loans
  • Federal Direct PLUS Loans
  • Federal Direct Consolidations Loans

It’s important to note that Federal Perkins Loans and Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) are not eligible for forgiveness through this program unless you consolidate them via a Direct Consolidation Loan from the Department of Education (see below). However, Perkins loans do have their own special cancellation program (more info below).

What are the requirements?

  • Make 120 on-time payments towards your Direct Loans
  • Payments must be under a qualifying plan. Qualifying plans include: Income-Based Repayment (IBR), Pay As You Earn Repayment (PAYE), Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE), Income-Contingent (ICR) and Standard Repayment. (Note that for many borrowers it makes sense to go with an income-driven plan to maximize the amount you will have forgiven and lower monthly payments.)
  • Work full-time at a qualifying organization. You do not have to work at the same place for ten years to qualify

How can I become eligible?

Consolidating your loans with federal government can be a good first step when pursuing Public Service Loan Forgiveness. A Direct Loan Consolidation combines all of your federal loans into one new single loan (even previously ineligible loans like Perkins or FFELs can be included and become eligible). During the consolidation process you can also choose an alternative repayment plan. However, you should keep in mind that consolidating your loans will typically reset the payment count for PSLF.

If it sounds like you might not qualify for PSLF, answer a few questions below so we can help point you towards other repayment options. Otherwise, scroll down to read on.

 

How do you apply for Public Service Loan Forgiveness?

  1. Fill out the Employment Certification Form each year, or as you change jobs.
  2. Submit the form as instructed.
  3. FedLoan Servicing will review your information and let you know if you qualify. They may ask for more information and ask for pay stubs, W-2s, or other documentation.
  4. FedLoan Servicing will let you know how many qualified payments you have made, and how many payments you will need to make until you qualify for forgiveness.
  5. Once you become eligible, you will submit a PSLF application. It is currently not available, as the first rounds of loans to be forgiven is slated for October 2017.

Currently, there is no limit on the amount forgiven under Public Service Loan Forgiveness. In other words, the full amount of your federal student loans is eligible for forgiveness.

If you have any additional questions, check out our full post on Public Service Loan Forgiveness.


2) Teacher Loan Forgiveness

Teachers are a key asset to the community and play an indispensable role in the lives of children. But it’s no secret that teachers are underpaid, which can affect how teachers pay back their student loans for their own education.

Luckily, there is the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program, which helps forgive a portion of debt.

Who is eligible?

Teachers who work at low-income schools are eligible for this program. Check out the Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellation Benefits to see if your school qualifies.

Which loans are eligible?

Direct Loans and Federal Stafford loans are eligible for student loan forgiveness for teachers. Unfortunately, if you only have PLUS loans, you are not eligible for this program.

What are the requirements?

  • You must teach in a low-income elementary or secondary school
  • You cannot have loans that originated before October 1, 1998
  • Your loans must not be in default
  • Work full-time as a teacher for five consecutive years
  • Be a highly qualified teacher, which means obtaining state certification and holding a license in the state you teach in

Highly qualified elementary and secondary school teachers may receive up to $5,000 in loan forgiveness.

Teachers that are considered ‘highly qualified’ and teach math, science, or work in special education are eligible for up to $17,500 in student loan forgiveness.

How do you apply?

After teaching for 5 years, you can apply for teacher loan forgiveness by completing the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Application and then return your application to your loan servicer.


3) Teacher Cancellation for Federal Perkins Loans

If you have a Federal Perkins Loan and are interested in pursuing education, you are in luck. You can have up to 100 percent of your loans forgiven, in a short amount of time.

Who is eligible?

Full-time teachers at low-income public or nonprofit elementary or secondary schools or those that specialize in certain subjects, like math, science, and special education.

There are other special circumstances that make teachers eligible for this program. These include: working in a private school that has its nonprofit status, working at an educational service agency or teaching in a designated subject shortage area.

Which loans are eligible?

Only the Federal Perkins Loans are eligible for this program.

What are the requirements?

Teachers must work full-time for a full academic year to qualify for loan cancellation. Qualified teachers are eligible to have:

Qualified teachers are eligible to have:

  • 15 percent of their loans cancelled for the first and second years of service
  • 20 percent of their loans cancelled for the third and fourth years of service
  • 30 percent of their loans cancelled for the fifth year of service

Therefore, after five years of service, qualified teachers with Federal Perkins Loans can have 100 percent of the loans cancelled.

How do you apply?

First you will need to request certain forms from the office that administers the Federal Perkins Loan program at the school that has your loans. You will need to provide various types of documentation, at the school’s request. The school handles determining whether you qualify or not for the loan cancellation.


4) Special Teacher Forgiveness Programs by State

As the burden of student debt increases, some states are coming to the rescue in order to keep their workforce and help borrowers. A number of states have programs that benefit teachers — here is a sample of a few.

New York

The New York City Loan Forgiveness program offers teachers working in certain shortage areas the opportunity to forgive a portion of their loans. The award amount varies, but its value is up to $24,000.

Teachers must work for 6 years in an authorized New York City Department of Education school. Learn more about eligibility, requirements and the application.

Texas

The Teach for Texas Loan Repayment Assistance Program can forgive up to $2,500 for teachers that work in a field as well as a community, where there is a shortage of teachers. Learn more about the program here.

Illinois

The Illinois Teachers Loan Repayment Program is awarded to teachers who work in low-income schools. You must work in a low-income school for 5 years. Teachers must be eligible for a federal loan forgiveness program — this program can make a matching award up to $5,000.

Find out more information about the program here.


5) Special Forgiveness Programs for Doctors by State

Doctors are an asset to society and a necessary part of public health. However, being a doctor comes with years of education and a hefty debt load. Luckily, these states offer some relief in the form of special forgiveness programs for doctors.

New York

The Regents Physician Loan Forgiveness Award Program can help physicians practicing in New York and award up to $10,000 each year, for 2 years. Applicants must be licensed in New York State and have completed residency in the past 5 years. The focus on this program is primary care. Applicants must agree to work in a specific area or work with an underserved population. Find out more.

In addition, there is also the Physician Loan Repayment – Qualified Educational Loan Repayment, which awards up to $150,000 to physicians that commit to a 5-year term of working in an underserved region.

Washington

Healthcare professionals like doctors, nurses, pharmacists and dentists can apply for The Health Professional Loan Repayment Program. This program awards up to $35,000 per year, for 2 years. Healthcare professionals must provide primary care in an underserved or rural area.

Get the full scoop on this program.

Pennsylvania

Primary care practitioners such as doctors and dentists can get up to $100,000 (yes, really) awarded for working full-time for two years with medically underserved populations.

Physicians must be licensed in Pennsylvania and meet certain requirements. Learn more about this program, which has one of the best awards we’ve seen.


6) Federal Perkins Loan Discharge for Nurses

Did you use Federal Perkins Loans to pay for your schooling? If you work as a full-time nurse, you might be eligible for up to 100 percent of your loans discharged.

What are the requirements?

You must be a registered nurse and employed full-time. Loans aren’t discharged immediately, though; instead, they are discharged over five years.

How do you apply?

You can apply through your loan servicer or through the school that disbursed the loans.


7) NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program

If you work in an underserved community, you might be eligible for the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program. You can get up to 60 percent of your student loans in two years of employment. If you work for a third year, you might qualify for another 25 percent being paid.

What are the requirements?

You must a registered nurse and work in a facility that is qualified as a Critical Shortage Facility. You need to work at least 32 hours a week at the facility.

How do you apply?

Applications are accepted once a year, and guidelines are updated annually. Check the program requirements and guidelines ahead of time and turn in your application on time.


8) Special Forgiveness Programs for Nurses by State

Alaska

The SHARP program recruits healthcare professionals to work in certain areas of shortgage. In return, they get loan assistance as long as they work at a site with an employer match.

Nurses can receive up to $27,000 per year in loan assistance under the Tier-2 program.

Arizona

If you work in a healthcare shortage area, you might be eligible for help under the Arizona Loan Repayment Program. Nurse practitioners can work full- or part-time at a qualified facility for at least two years. You can get up to $50,000 in repayment help for each year of service.

California

Registered nurses working in a Health Professional Shortage Area or Medically Underserved Area in California can receive up to $8,000 to help with student loans. You must work for two years. After that, you can reapply and get up to $11,000 in assistance.

Colorado

The Colorado Health Service Corps program offers full-time nurse practitioners the chance to receive up to $50,000 in repayment assistance for working in for three years in a qualifying organization. Half-time nurses can receive up to $25,000.

Florida

The Florida Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness Program offers up to $4,000 per year for those who work in Health Professional Shortage Areas at qualifying organizations. Your loans must come from a nursing education program, and you must be licensed as an LPN, RN, or ARNP in the state of Florida to qualify.

Hawaii

If you work in a Health Professional Shortage Area in Hawaii, you can receive loan assistance. You need to work full-time for two years or half-time for four years to qualify. Award amounts vary based on available funds, as the Hawaii State Loan Repayment Program is a grant program.

Idaho

Idaho offers a program to a variety of healthcare professionals, including nurses, who work in Health Professional Shortage Areas. The awards range from $5,000 to $25,000 a year, depending on where you work and your qualifications.

Illinois

If you are a nurse committed to working in a veterans’ home, you could be eligible for repayment assistance of up to $5,000 per year. You do need to be an Illinois resident and meet licensing requirements. Your employment must be verified in good standing by the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Iowa

Iowa offers the Registered Nurse & Nurse Educator Loan Forgiveness Program which helps pay off up to 20 percent of your student loan balance.

You must be employed in Iowa to qualify. If you hold a master’s degree or higher and teach at a qualified college or university, you can qualify as a nurse educator. You must be in good standing with your federal loans and be employed at least quarter-time.

Kansas

If you commit to working in a Health Professional Shortage Area for two years, you can receive up to $20,000 in repayment assistance from the Kansas State Loan Repayment Program. This award is open to a variety of healthcare professionals.

Kentucky

For every dollar provided by the program to help repay your student loans, your employer, a foundation, or a friend needs to match as well. You must work in an area that is qualified as a shortage area for two years to qualify. You can get between $20,000 and $40,000 depending on your designation.

Louisiana

Receive up to $15,000 a year in repayment help when you commit to three years in a Health Professional Shortage Area or nonprofit in Louisiana. If you are licensed in Louisiana and in good standing with your student loans, you can get this help if you work full-time.

Maryland

The Janet L. Hoffman Loan Assistance Repayment Program offers between $1,500 and $10,000 per year for three years. You need to work as a nurse in low-income and underserved areas, and your gross salary can’t be more than $60,000. Awards are given based on how much student loan debt you have.

Michigan

You can get up to $200,000 over eight years to help you repay your student loans through the Michigan State Loan Repayment Program. You need to be a nurse practitioner in an area that is considered underserved and work at least two years.

Minnesota

The Minnesota Nurse Forgiveness Program provides assistance to registered nurses or licensed practicals who are willing to work in a licensed nursing home or with the developmentally disabled. You need to work for at least two years, and receive up to $5,000 a year. You can apply to extend for another two years.

Montana

If you are a registered nurse working full-time at a Montana state hospital or prison, you might be eligible for the Montana Institutional Nursing Incentive Program. With this program, you need a loan balance of at least $1,000. You will receive assistance based on state funding and candidates applying for help. You can apply for up to four years.

Nebraska

You can participate in the matching fund program offered by Nebraska. It’s designed to attracti healthcare professionals. Employers willing to help with student loan repayment can receive matching funds from the state, up to $20,000 a year. You must be willing to work three years in an area designated as one with a shortage.

New Hampshire

You can receive up to $45,000 for working three years in an underserved area with the New Hampshire State Loan Repayment Program as a nurse practitioner. You can apply to extend by another two years and an additional $20,000 when you complete your three years.

New Jersey

The Primary Care Practitioner Loan Redemption Program offers certified nurse practitioners the opportunity to get up to $120,000 in assistance over four years. You need to work in Health Professional Shortgage Areas to qualify, depending on your outstanding loan balance.

New Mexico

Get up to $25,000 or $35,000 a year from the New Mexico Health Professional Loan Repayment Program if you are an advance practice nurse working full-time for two years. You must be licensed in New Mexico and a resident, and work in a designated area.

New York

If you are a registered nurse with a graduate degree, you might qualify for the New York State Nursing Faculty Loan Forgiveness Program. You can receive up to $8,000 a year for up to five years if you work as an educator in the field of nursing.

Ohio

Ohio nursing students who plan to work as nurses or instructors post-graduation can receive loan assistance from the Nurse Education Assistance Loan Program. You get up to $1,500 per year, and it’s possible to receive up to 100 percent loan cancellation if you work as a full-time nurse in Ohio for five years.

Oregon

The Oregon Partnership State Loan Repayment program is designed to attract healthcare providers, including registered nurses and nurse practitioners. If you work in a Health Professional Shortage Area for two years, you can have a percentage of your loan balance repaid. You can also apply for additional years.

Pennsylvania

As a registered nurse who works full-time in designated areas, you might be able to receive up to $60,000 in repayment help if you commit to two years. You can receive $30,000 in help if you are a half-time worker.

Rhode Island

Take advantage of the Rhode Island Health Professional Loan Repayment program if you are a nurse practitioner or registered nurse working in an underserved area. You can make a two-year commitment for full-time work or a four-year commitement for part-time work. Award amounts vary.

Rhode Isalnd also offers up to $5,000 a year in repayment help for nursing faculty for up to four years.

Tennessee

If you are a Tennessee resident with a nursing license and you are enrolled in a higher education nursing program, you might be eligible for the Graduate Nursing Loan Forgiveness Program. This program acts as a student loan program that forgives you after you work as a teacher after you finish your higher degree.

Texas

Receive up to $10,000 for working at least 12 months as a health care provider in an underserved area. You just can’t be a physician to take advantage of the Rural Communities Health Care Investment Program.

Vermont

The Educational Loan Repayment Program for Nurses provides up to $10,000 a year when you work 12 or 24 months in an area that underserved. You must work at least 45 weeks each year and dedicate 20 hours a week to clincial hours.

Virginia

Serve two years as a nurse in Virginia, and you could be eligible for up to $25,000 a year toward your student loan balances. You need to have a post-baccalaureate certificate or master’s degree in nursing from a school accredited by the National League of Nursing and work in your field at least 40 hours a week to qualify.

Washington

If you work as a primary care provider for three years, you can receive up to $75,000 from the Health Porfessional Loan Repayment Program. You must work in an area designated as a Health Professional Shortage Area.

West Virginia

The State Loan Repayment Program offers up to $40,000 for a two-year commitment in a rural, underserved area. You must be a full-time nurse. You can extend for another two years and be eligible for up to $25,000 more.

Wisconsin

Nurses can receive up to $100,000 in loan repayment help through the Health Professions Loan Assistance Program. You must commit to work in an underserved community for at least three years to be eligible.

Wyoming

If you work full-time as a nurse in a qualifying Health Professional SHortage Area, you cn receive up to $20,000 in help paying your student loans. You need to work for at least two years.


9) Special Forgiveness Programs for Lawyers by State

Lawyers are increasingly facing high debt loads as well as high unemployment — not a good combination. But certain states are offering help. Here is a sample of a few states offering forgiveness programs for lawyers.

Washington D.C.

The District of Columbia Bar Foundation Loan Repayment Assistance Program helps qualified attorneys by awarding up to $12,000 annually.

The program seeks to increase the amount of lawyers working with low-income communities. Applicants must be a D.C. resident, in good standing with the bar, and also working in the law field for at least 17 hours a week. Learn more.

Florida

The Loan Repayment Assistance Programs for Lawyers awards up to $5,000 per year for lawyers who work at legal aid or legal services organizations.

Applicants that work full-time or part-time for a year are eligible for having their loans forgiven annually. More info, including who to contact.

Michigan

The John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program awards up to $10,000 annually to attorneys who work in certain sectors, like juvenile delinquency. Applicants can have up to $60,000 total forgiven.

Attorneys must be licensed in Michigan and be in good standing with the bar. Find out more here.


10) Forgiveness With Income-Based Repayment

While this isn’t a forgiveness program in the typical sense, you can get your loans forgiven through the Income-Based Repayment program.

Through income-based repayment, your student loan payments are capped at 10-15 percent of your discretionary income. After making consistent payments under IBR for 20-25 years (terms depend on when you borrowed), your remaining loan balance will be forgiven.

It’s important to note that under current tax law, loans that are forgiven under this program can be taxed as income. Keep this in mind when pursuing this program, so you are not surprised by a potentially large tax bill.

Who is eligible?

To be eligible for income-based repayment, your payments must be less than what your payment would be under the Standard Repayment Plan. This is an easy requirement to meet if you have a much larger debt load, compared to your income.

You can use the Repayment Estimator tool to help you calculate your payments, to see if you qualify. You will need to either log in or proceed without logging in to use the tool.

Which loans are eligible?

The types of loans eligible for Income-Based Repayment include:

  • Direct Loans
  • Direct PLUS loans for graduates and professionals (Direct Plus loans made to parents are not eligible)
  • Direct Consolidation loans
  • Federal Stafford loans
  • FFEL PLUS Loans made to graduate or professional students
  • FFEL Consolidation Loans, which did not repay any PLUS loans made to parents

What are the requirements?

Borrowers must make consistent payments for 20-25 years and update their loan servicers when their income changes. Again, this option really only works for those that expect to stay in low-paying fields, but have high-figure debt loads.

How do you apply?

To apply for Income-Based Repayment submit an online application at StudentLoans.gov. You can also obtain a paper from from your loan servicer. You will need to provide documentation as requested, such as proof of income and a tax return.


11) Forgiveness With Pay As You Earn

Pay As You Earn is similar to Income-Based Repayment in that it isn’t a typical forgiveness plan, but you are eligible for forgiveness after a certain period of time.

The Pay As You Earn program caps your monthly payment at 10 percent of your discretionary income. Under the Pay As You Earn program, borrowers make payments for 20 years. Any remaining balance is then eligible for forgiveness.

However, under this plan your forgiven balance can also be seen as taxable income, so be sure to weigh the costs and benefits of pursuing forgiveness through this program.

Who is eligible?

Similar to IBR, your must have some financial hardship and your payments must be less than what they would be under the 10-year Standard Repayment Plan.

Which loans are eligible?

The loans that are eligible under the Pay As You Earn plan include:

  • Direct Stafford loans
  • Direct Grad PLUS loans
  • Direct Consolidation loans, excluding those that include a Parent PLUS loan or a loan made prior to October 1, 2007

What are the requirements?

You must make consistent payments under the program for 20 years in order to be considered for loan forgiveness. Your payments will be based on your income and family size. In order to qualify for the program, you need to be a new borrower as of October 1, 2007, with a Direct Loan disbursement after October 1, 2011.

How do you apply?

To apply for this program, complete an application on StudentLoans.gov and be prepared to send in income documentation to qualify.

While pursuing student loan forgiveness or cancellation may seem like the easy option, as you can see it still takes some work. Not only that, but each program is pretty particular about the requirements.


Our final words:

If you are ineligible for student loan forgiveness, but are having trouble managing your loans, you have a few other options:

The key is to talk to your lender and explore all of your options, so that you can effectively manage your student loans.

Interested in refinancing your student loans?

Here are the top 6 lenders of 2017!
LenderRates (APR)Average Savings 
Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
2.61% - 6.74%Undergrad & GraduateVisit SoFi
3.64% - 7.20%Undergrad & GraduateVisit Laurel Road
2.62% - 6.74%Undergrad & GraduateVisit CommonBond
2.52% - 7.26%Undergrad & GraduateVisit LendKey
2.54% - 8.39%Undergrad & GraduateVisit Citizens
2.61% - 6.49%Undergrad & GraduateVisit Earnest
Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

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.

Published in Direct Loan Consolidation, Direct Subsidized Loans, Federal Student Loan Repayment, Pay As You Earn (PAYE), Pay Off Student Loans, Private Student Loan Consolidation, Public Service Loan Forgiveness, Student Loan Forgiveness, Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans, Teacher Student Loan Forgiveness