Student Loan Forgiveness: Eligibility, Programs, Scams, & Application

Student Loan Forgiveness

Student loan forgiveness simply means the cancellation or discharge of the loan availed. The United States Government offers such loan forgiveness programs to help borrowers manage their federal student loans. In such a scenario, the borrower is released from the obligation to repay of some or full of their student loan. This helps them manage their debt and alleviate the financial burden during the repayment of loans.

Some of the major education loan forgiveness or cancellation programs are Public Service Loan Forgiveness, Teacher Loan Forgiveness, and Income-Driven Repayment Forgiveness. Keep reading the blog to learn more about different loan forgiveness plans.

Student Loan Forgiveness Programmes

Student Loan Forgiveness is available for only some types of loans. However, the eligibility to avail of student loan forgiveness programs is limited to borrowers in military professions, educational professions, and certain public services. Here are some of the major student loan forgiveness programs available for students who study in the USA:

This program is intended for individuals working in public service jobs, such as government or non-profit organizations. Here are the key features of this program:

  • Eligible Employment: Full-time employment with a government organisation (federal, state, local, or tribal) or tax-exempt non-profit organisations classified under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
  • Loan Type: Only federal Direct Loans are eligible for forgiveness. Other federal student loans may need to be consolidated into a Direct Consolidation Loan.
  • Qualifying Payments: 120 monthly payments made while working full-time for a qualifying employer.
  • Repayment Plans: Payments must be made under an income-driven repayment plan or the Standard Repayment Plan with a 10-year term.
  • On-Time Payments: Payments must be made within 15 days of the due date while employed full-time by a qualifying employer.
  • Loan Forgiveness: After making 120 qualifying payments, you can apply for complete loan forgiveness.
  • No Forgiveness Cap: There is no limit on the amount of loan forgiveness you can receive.
  • Tax Exemption: The forgiven amount is not considered taxable income, so you don’t have to pay federal income tax on it.
  • Employer Certification: Annual submission of the Employer Certification Form (ECF) to verify employment and ensure accurate tracking of payments.
  • Loan Servicer: Your loan servicer is responsible for tracking payments and determining eligibility for forgiveness.

Also Read: Is your Education Loan Sanctioned? Well, this good news can come with some common issues faced by students. Check them out in our blog on Issues After Education Loan Sanction.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness

This program is designed to assist teachers who work in low-income schools or educational service agencies. Given below are the important clauses of this student loan forgiveness program of the US government:

  • Eligible Employment: Full-time employment as a teacher for five consecutive academic years.
  • School Qualification: Employment at a low-income school or educational service agency recognised by the Department of Education.
  • Loan Type: Direct Subsidised and Unsubsidised Loans or Subsidised and Unsubsidised Federal Stafford Loans.
  • Loan Forgiveness Amount: Up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness.
  • Qualifying Payments: 120 monthly payments made while employed as a teacher.
  • Subject Area: Teachers must teach in certain subject areas, such as mathematics, science, special education, or bilingual education.
  • Teacher Certification: Teachers must hold the appropriate state teaching certification or meet the qualifications for a teacher in their state.
  • Tax Exemption: The forgiven amount is not considered taxable income, so you don’t have to pay federal income tax on it.
  • Application Process: Complete the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Application and submit it to your loan servicer after completing the required teaching service.
  • Loan Servicer: The loan servicer is responsible for processing the application and determining eligibility for forgiveness.

Also Read: Want to avail of an education loan without Income Proof? Here’s how you can get a loan without income proof.

Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Forgiveness

The federal government offers several income-driven repayment plans, including Income-Based Repayment (IBR), Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE), Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR), and Pay As You Earn (PAYE). Here are some of the primary features of this student loan forgiveness plan:

  • Loan Types: Most federal student loans are eligible for IDR forgiveness, including Direct Loans and Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL).
  • Qualifying Payments: You must make 20 or 25 years of qualifying payments, depending on the specific IDR plan you are enrolled in.
  • Payment Calculation: Your monthly payment amount is based on your income and family size, typically set at a percentage of your discretionary income.
  • Forgiveness Amount: After making the required number of qualifying payments, the remaining loan balance is forgiven. However, the forgiven amount may be considered taxable income.
  • Employment Type: Unlike other forgiveness programs, IDR forgiveness does not require specific employment in a particular field or organization.
  • Annual Recertification: You are required to recertify your income and family size annually to continue on the IDR plan and maintain progress towards forgiveness.
  • Interest Subsidy: Under certain IDR plans, such as PAYE and REPAYE, the government may subsidize a portion of the interest that accrues on your loans.
  • PSLF Combination: IDR payments made while working towards PSLF can count towards both IDR forgiveness and PSLF, potentially reducing the number of years required for forgiveness.

Also Read: Worried about managing expenses while studying in the USA? Consider opening a Bank Of America International Student Account and check out the details, benefits and how to open it.

Student Loan Forgiveness Application

To apply for federal student loan forgiveness programs, you typically need to follow specific steps and submit the necessary documentation. The application process may vary depending on the program you’re applying for. 

However, please note that a one-time debt relief loan program has been prohibited under the Supreme Court’s decision. Biden administration will roll out a new student loan forgiveness plan and the application for the same won’t be processed for the time being.

Here is a general outline of the student loan forgiveness application process:

Determine Your Eligibility

Review the eligibility requirements for the specific federal loan forgiveness program you’re interested in. Each program has different criteria, such as employment type, number of qualifying payments, or specific teaching assignments.

Gather Required Documents

Collect the documentation necessary to support your application. This may include proof of employment, payment records, or certification forms. Consult the program’s guidelines or website for the specific documents required for education loans.

Complete the Application Form

Obtain the appropriate application form from the official website of the program you’re applying for. For example, the PSLF program has its own application form. Ensure that you fill out the federal student loan forgiveness application form accurately and provide all the required information.

Submit the Application

Once you have completed the application form and gathered the supporting documents, submit your application according to the instructions provided. Some programs may require you to mail the application, while others may accept electronic submissions.

Follow Up and Monitor Progress

After submitting your application, it’s essential to stay informed about the progress of your forgiveness request. Some programs may provide an online portal or allow you to track your application’s status. Keep copies of all documents and correspondence related to your application for your records.

Also Read: Study abroad financial crunch can be resolved through a Personal Loan for Students. Check out the details on types of personal loans and how to get one with no income, no credit, or no co-signer.

Eligibility Criteria for Student Loan Forgiveness

Eligibility for Federal Student Loan Forgiveness depends on the specific forgiveness program. Generally, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program requires borrowers to work full-time for a qualifying employer, such as a government or nonprofit organization, and make 120 qualifying payments while meeting other criteria. 

Teacher Loan Forgiveness is available to teachers working in low-income schools or educational service agencies for a certain number of years. Income-driven repayment forgiveness is available to borrowers who make payments based on their income for a specific period (usually 20-25 years) and meet other program requirements.

Student Loan Forgiveness Scams

Unfortunately, there have been instances of scams related to student loan forgiveness programs. These scams often target vulnerable individuals who are seeking relief from their student loan debt. It’s crucial to be aware of the common signs of scams to protect oneself from fraudulent activities while seeking student loans. Here are some red flags to watch out for:

  • Upfront Fees: Legitimate federal education loan forgiveness programs do not require upfront fees.
  • Promises of Immediate Forgiveness: Legitimate programs have specific eligibility criteria and require a certain number of payments or years of service before forgiveness can be granted.
  • Requests for Personal Information: Be cautious if a third party asks for your Social Security number, bank account details, or other sensitive personal information. 
  • Pressure Tactics: Scammers often use high-pressure tactics to create a sense of urgency and push you into making quick decisions. Legitimate programs allow you time to review information, ask questions, and make informed choices.
  • Unusual Payment Methods: Be sceptical if you are asked to make payments through unconventional methods such as wire transfers or prepaid debit cards. Legitimate programs typically use standard payment methods.

How to Protect from Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Scams?

To protect oneself from scams, it’s recommended to:

  • Research
  • Contact Your Loan Servicer
  • Stay Informed
  • Report to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and your state attorney general’s office

Also Read: Education loan insurance is an important financial tool to overcome the risks associated with unforeseen circumstances. Check the details about the features, benefits and coverage of Education Loan Insurance.

FAQs

Can I get my student loan forgiveness?

Yes, the borrowers who face the financial burden and struggle to repay their loans can apply for student loan forgiveness. The United States government offers several student loan forgiveness programs to assist borrowers in managing their student loan debt.

What is the Federal Student Loan Forgiveness program?

The Federal Student Loan Forgiveness program is the US government initiative designed to help borrowers with federal student loans by forgiving a portion or all of their loan debt. It offers various options for loan forgiveness, such as PSLF, Teacher Loan Forgiveness, and IDR Forgiveness.

Is applying for student loan forgiveness worth it?

Student loan forgiveness plans relieve burdensome debt, encourage public service, and increase disposable income. However, it does come with some cons like it may take years to qualify for it and may increase taxable income. Income-driven repayment forgiveness plans can accelerate accrual of interest.

How do I get student loans forgiven?

Borrowers may consider consolidating all their loans into one debt. Then, apply for student loan forgiveness by filling out the application form. Once approved, these loans are usually paid back by huge institutions such as commercial banks or the government.

What is the difference between student loan forgiveness and discharge?

Student loan forgiveness is when the borrower is not obligated to make repayment because they are in a government or a non-profit organisation, while student loan discharge occurs when the borrower declares bankruptcy, dies or becomes permanently disabled.

Who is eligible for Federal Student Loan Forgiveness?

Eligibility for Federal Student Loan Forgiveness depends on the specific forgiveness program. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program requires borrowers to work full-time for a government or non-profit organization. Teacher Loan Forgiveness is available to teachers working in low-income schools or educational service agencies for a certain number of years. Income-driven repayment forgiveness is available to borrowers who make payments based on their income for a specific period (usually 20-25 years) and meet other program requirements.

This was all about student loan forgiveness. To know more about education loans, the best bank accounts for students, forex and banking experience for global students or international money transfers, reach out to our experts at 1800572126 to help ease your study abroad experience.

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