“Student loan forgiveness” is a term that gets thrown around a lot, but what does it actually mean?

It means that under particular circumstances in your life, you may qualify to have some or all of your loans forgiven; in other words, you won’t have to pay them back. 

For example, because of your profession, you may not be responsible for making your student loan payments any longer.

The current student loan statistics are truly shocking and student debt is now a national crisis. At Scholly we believe in knowing your options, one of which is student loan forgiveness. Student loan forgiveness can be a little complicated to understand, however, so let’s break it down.

Quick Facts About Student Loan Forgiveness

This is a great overview of how to get your student loans forgiven, but here are some quick facts you’ll want to keep in mind.

Student loan forgiveness:

  • typically refers to the forgiving of federal student loans. If you’ve taken our private personal loans, it’s harder to qualify for student loan forgiveness, though some companies and organizations do offer it (more on this later);
  • is subject to tight parameters and restrictions. For instance, you usually have to work in a specific profession for a certain number of years before becoming eligible;
  • is different than student loan discharge, which is the elimination of student loan debt on account of very extenuating circumstances such as death, bankruptcy, or school closure. You may also be eligible for a total and permanent disability discharge (TPD) if you have a permanent disability; 
  • differs from deferment and forbearance, which are other ways of pausing and postponing your payments on account of certain life circumstances;  
  • is pretty difficult to obtain at this time, and you shouldn’t count on receiving it (although it’s certainly not impossible).

Who Qualifies for Student Loan Forgiveness?

There’s a good chance you qualify for student loan forgiveness if… 

You work in public service

Under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF), there are a number of professions that are eligible for full or partial loan forgiveness, including:

  • Government (Federal, State, Local, and Tribal)
  • Military
  • Public education 
  • Healthcare
  • The law/legal systems 
  • Volunteer work (such as the Peace Corps) 
  • Veterinary medicine 
  • Law enforcement 

Keep in mind that you must work within one of these fields full-time for 10 years before being eligible, and that each profession has its own unique set of eligibility requirements. 

It’s also important to understand that the PSLF application process is tricky, and that even if you qualify in theory, student loan forgiveness is not guaranteed. In fact, a recent piece in Forbes just reported that roughly 99% of borrowers were rejected this year. 

Get more information and find out if you qualify for the PSLF program here. You can also use this PSLF Help Tool.

You’re a public school teacher

The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program forgives up to $17,500 of your (federal unsubsidized and subsidized) loans. To be eligible, you must teach for 5 consecutive years at a low-income public school or work 5 consecutive years at an educational service agency. You must also be considered a highly qualified teacher.  

What’s great is that public school teachers are eligible for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, so feel free to apply for both if you meet the criteria! 

You’re a Nurse, Doctor, or Lawyer 

Like teachers, these professions are included in the PSLF program, but also have their own forgiveness programs as well. Find more information here:

You’re in the Military 

Again, people in the US military can qualify for the PSLF program and various other forgiveness programs, including the Army Student Loan: Active Duty repayment program. There are also programs specifically geared toward members of the US Navy. This is a fantastically comprehensive guide to military student loan forgiveness that we highly recommend.   

Keep in mind that this list is in no way exhaustive, and that there may be other options for you out there. Here’s a resource we love that provides a complete list of student loan forgiveness programs and options out there currently. 

How to Reduce or Eliminate Your Student Loan Debt

If you’re not a candidate for student loan forgiveness for any of the above reasons, there a few other routes you can take to reduce your student loans.

#1 Pursue Income-Based Loan Forgiveness 

One option on this front is to do income-based student loan repayment (IBR). With this program, your student loan payments will be reduced, and after the terms of repayment (typically 20-25 years), if you still have a remaining balance, it will be forgiven. 

For more information about IBR, and similar income-based repayment options, check out this overview of income-driven repayment plans

#2 Work for a Company that Helps Pay for College 

These days, many companies are starting to include student loan repayment as an employee benefit (alongside health insurance, 401ks, paid time off, etc.), and this is an amazing way to get your student loan debt taken off your hands. 

Fidelity, Penguin Random House, and Abbott are just a few of the companies that are offering partial student loan repayment assistance as a benefit. And even more companies offer tuition reimbursement to current employees who wish to take classes that will directly impact and advance their careers. Here’s a great list of companies currently offering tuition reimbursement.

#3 Apply for pay-off programs 

They’re often competitive, but there are some awesome student loan payoff programs out there—and hey, you can’t win if you don’t apply! 

At Scholly, we regularly run student loan payoff contests. Check out all of our exciting opportunities here

How Scholly Can Help You Avoid Student Loan Debt

Student loan forgiveness, in all its forms, can be tremendously helpful if you qualify. 

But at Scholly, we also adamantly believe in preventing a mountain of debt in the first place. If there’s no debt, there’s nothing to forgive, right?

That’s why we’re constantly, around the clock, updating Scholly Search, our scholarship search database. Scholly Search takes all of your unique characteristics and matches you with tons of scholarship opportunities tailored just for you! 

The best part about scholarships? They’re FREE money for college that you never have to pay back! The more scholarships you win, the less student loan debt you’ll incur. 

Scholly has already helped students win over $100 million is scholarships for school, and we want you to be next! Try Scholly today!