Can I Have My Student Loan Forgiven?

If you work in a public service job for many years, you may be able to get some of your student loan debt cancelled.

Student Loan Forgiveness Progams


Student loan forgiveness programs can bring great relief to borrowers who qualify, but they aren't a magic bullet. Usually, you must work hard for them, serving your community and making regular payments for years before your loans are erased. Folks who benefit from forgiveness programs usually work for low pay in jobs that help others -- for example, teachers, public defenders, or health care professionals working with populations in need.

Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

The best known and most widely used student loan forgiveness program is the federal government's public service program. The goal of the program is to encourage graduates to work full-time in public service jobs.

Under the program, the government will forgive a borrower's Direct Federal Loans after they have made 120 regular payments -- that's ten years' worth -- while working full time for a federal, state, or local government agency or for a nonprofit organization.

For full details about the program, see the Department of Education website.

Free Information About Dozens of Other Forgiveness Programs 

American Student Assistance has published a free guide to loan forgiveness programs across the country. It covers forgiveness programs for community service, military service, work in certain professions, and state programs. 

Consider the ASA guide a great starting place, but be sure to research additional loan forgiveness programs that might be offered offered by your city or county government, employer, or even social organizations you belong to. 

Watch Out for Loan Forgiveness Scams

Beware of individuals or companies that offer to help you get rid of your loans -- for a fee. It doesn't cost anything to apply for legitimate loan forgiveness or cancellation programs. If you think a company is trying to take advantage of you, learn more and file a complaint.

Know the Tax Consequences of Loan Forgiveness

Be aware, too, that the IRS sometimes views forgiven loan amounts as taxable income. If you fulfill a public service requirement, you will probably avoid paying taxes on the amount of your forgiven loans, but you should talk with a tax professional to be sure you won’t be surprised with a tax bill.

Other Ways to Manage Your Student Loans

If loan forgiveness won’t get you the relief you need, you may want to explore other ways of reducing, postponing, or eliminating your student loan payments. The following articles can help.

How Do I Postpone My Student Loan Payments?

How Do I Lower My Student Loan Payments

Consolidating Student Loans: Pros and Cons

Can I Cancel My Student Loans?

Can I Discharge My Student Loans in Bankruptcy?