Home > Students > 5 Little-Known Ways to Get Your Student Loans Forgiven

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If you’re like most people, your student loans probably feel a bit like a ball and chain that you’ve been dragging through your life for years. Every month, you dutifully make a payment knowing that you’ll be making that same payment next month, the month after that, and so on. But what if you didn’t have to? What if there was a way to get your student loans forgiven?

It turns out that there are many ways to get federal student loans forgiven. In fact, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a report in 2013 estimating that more than one-quarter of working Americans are eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, but only a small percentage are actually using it.

Programs like the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program are relatively well known. However, there are some lesser-known programs that may also help you pay down your loans.

Here are five ways to say goodbye to your student loans that you might not have even known about. If you’re not eligible for any of them, there are still other ways to lessen your student loan burden – such as through student loan consolidation, refinancing your loans, or by picking the right federal or private student loan repayment plans.

1. Loan Forgiveness Programs for Health Care Professionals

If you’re a doctor or a nurse, there is probably somewhere in the country where you could get a significant amount of your student loans forgiven in exchange for your service. From federal programs like the Health Professionals Loan Repayment Program that helps health care professionals serving in the military repay up to $50,000 in loans per year of service, to the Maine Dental Loan Repayment Program which pays up to $20,000 a year for serving an underserved area, there are many ways to get your loans repaid.

2. Perkins Loan Cancellation & Discharge

Did you get Perkins loans to pay for college? Well, then that’s good news for you. Borrowers of Perkins loans can have their entire debt forgiven after five years if they fit certain criteria. The professions that qualify for forgiveness are fairly broad and include anything from an attorney to a librarian, to even a speech pathologist. Check it out to see if your job fits the bill.

3. Teacher Loan Forgiveness Programs

Great news if you’re a teacher who is willing to work in underserved areas – there are several student loan forgiveness programs tailored to you. Many states offer awards specifically to draw teachers to underserved areas. Not only can you make a difference, but you can pay off your student loans while doing it.

4. Volunteering

SponsorChange.org is a nonprofit organization that helps graduates pay off student loans in return for volunteer work. Donors give money to projects or nonprofits to help them recruit volunteers and those volunteers get great work experience while also lessening their student loan burden.

5. Total and Permanent Disability Discharge

While no one plans to be disabled, it’s good to know that if you have a terrible accident that your student loans could be forgiven. If you have a condition that prevents you from working that has lasted for more than 60 months or can be expected to last for more than 60 months, then you may be able to get your student loans discharged.

The Bottom Line

If you’re having trouble paying your student loans, it’s important to find a workable solution so you don’t default on them. For the most part, student loans aren’t dischargeable in bankruptcy, and falling behind on your payments can hurt your credit and may even lead to wage garnishment. (If you want to see how your student loans are affecting your credit, you can get a free credit report summary on Credit.com.)

There are many more people eligible for student loan forgiveness programs who don’t take advantage of them. One important thing to remember — if you do get your student loans forgiven, you will then owe taxes on the amount forgiven. The IRS counts forgiven student loans as income; so while you might be able to escape your student loans, you definitely can’t escape taxes.

More on Student Loans:

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  • Jack

    sponser change website did not work for me

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Jack – I just tried it and it worked fine. Remember sponsor is spelled with two “o”s and the extension is.org.

  • Ryan

    http://www.sponsorchange.org does not work for me either (I’m in Seattle, WA). Looks like there could be some kind of network problem, though it’s strange that Gerri could access it and that one service (www.isitdownrightnow.com) says it’s up, but another (http://downforeveryoneorjustme.com) says its down.

  • Marissa

    Im employed by non profit organization. Have a 10k loan that now is about 11500 due to interest. I’ve been told I may qualify for a student loan forgiveness program. I will $100 monthly for 120 payments (10yrs) which I may be able to pay. Most of these programs gave a starting fee I was quoted $199 for 5 mayments. Just to start the program. I was also quoted 235 for 3 payents. I want to know what is the best credited student loan forgiveness program
    why do they charge a start up fee? Are there any that do not charge?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      You do not have to pay a fee to apply for income-based repayment. Just to the Department of Education website and/or IBRinfo.org for information.

      • Marissa

        Would you happen to have contact info. I don’t see contact information

        • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

          I am not sure what you mean by contact info. You can apply for the program online here: https://studentloans.gov/myDirectLoan/index.action.

          On the top right you will see a Contact Us tab and you can send them an email if you have additional questions.

  • Jeana B

    My son is 46 years old and has student loan debt from 15-20 years ago. He has been incarcerated for the past 6+ years. He is unable to make any payments b/c of incarceration. Does he qualify for debt forgiveness? If so, where can I help him look for information? Thank you. He suffers from mental illness and addiction.

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      Jeana —
      We are not aware of debt forgiveness for people who are in jail. However, there sometimes can be for people who are permanently disabled. You can read more here: Disabled Student Loan Borrowers Get New Options

  • Derrice C. Jones

    I’m a certified medical assistant. Do I qualify for loan forgivenes if I volunteer my services?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      The short answer is “I don’t know.” It depends on which programs you apply to and which ones you qualify for. This article is meant as a resource to help you explore options but it’s not a definitive list. You’ll likely have to do some digging to find out specific programs that can help you.

  • Marilyn P

    I really need to know if I will be able to go back to school if I apply for the program of student loan forgiveness?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Are you talking about Public Service Loan Forgiveness? It won’t prevent you from going back to school but if you have new loans that are eligible then you may start the clock over again. You’ll find details at IBRinfo.org.

  • Angie

    If you use a loan forgiveness program, will that hurt your credit score?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      I haven’t heard of an instance where it has. If you are talking about something like Income-based Repayment, then no. It should not.

    • ValidPoint

      No It does not, I know for fact. Good luck!

  • Cynthia

    Hello
    I am sitting her in tears because i want to, and am willing to pay my student loans. the problem is that i cant afford to pay almost $800 per month. I have my daughter who is in graduate school and my Master’s degree loans to pay. I DONT know what to do. I applied for the income replacement option at the advise of a Navient representative who told me my payments would be less than $200 per month. I can reasonably manage $200 to $250 per month from now till eternity but, that is not the payment amount set for me. Does anyone have suggestions or anytthing that might help me. I am a nurse but I work for a “For Profit” hospital. .

  • arnold

    Is it possible to get a loan forgiveness if the school didn’t teach me anything. i was not able to get a job in the field i went to school for due to the fact that i didn’t learn anything and now i have a 13k student loan to pay. The school name is [redacted] in Ontario Ca. there were several more students in the same situation as mine.

  • luluantipyrene

    I am in a situation where I signed on an income contingent loan. In 1999. I was on disability and gotten repeated deferment after deferment. I could have gotten permanent disability cancellation but I didn’t very stupidly thinking that I would be able to go back to work and I wasn’t able to. I am 61 years old now and in 9 years I am going to have to pay the income tax on a $140,000 loan. I want to see if I cannot go back and change that. But I remember the person the collector, told me that I could no longer cancel my loan for permanent disability back in 1999. I am Not sure what to do and I am on permanent disability now and I can’t go back to work and I can not pay the income tax in 9 years when it will be due.

    • Jeanine Skowronski

      Hi,

      You may want to consult a consumer attorney or a tax attorney to learn what you options here are.

      Thank you,

      Jeanine

  • DOMONIQUE JIMENEZ-MAGANA

    I GRADUATED FROM [redacted] INS IN 2011, THE SCHOOL JUST SHUT DOWN IN 2014 I WAS IN FORBERANCE FOR 3 YEARS BECAUSE I HAD MY CHILDREN AND WAS UNABLE TO WORK ” IM A SINGLE MOTHER OF 4″ EARLIER THIS YEAR I BEGAN MAKING PAYMENTS BUT THEN LEFT MY JOB LAST MONTJ ” THATS WHEN I FOUND OUT MY SCHOOL CLOSED” [Redacted] HAD ME FILL OUT A DISCHARGE APPLICATION I KNOW I DO NOT QUALIFY BUT I CANNOT PAY MY LOANS IS THERE ANY PROGRAM TO FORGIVE MY LOAN. I HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR WORK BUT IT IS NOT EASY SINCE I HAVE NO PROOF I GRADUATED SCHOOL!!!

    • Jeanine Skowronski

      Hi,

      You may want to consult a consumer attorney about what your options are.

      Thank you,

      Jeanine

  • Jennifer

    I will soon be 65 years old. Am I still responsible for my student loan?

    • Jeanine Skowronski

      Student loan debt is generally not dischargeable by age. In fact, it can be very difficult to have your student loan debt discharged.

      Best,

      Jeanine

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Maybe. It depends on what kind of student loans you have & what exactly happened. The Department of Education explains the Borrower Defense process here: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/borrower-defense

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