Updated October 30, 2019

How to Get Student Loans Forgiven


Student loan debt weighing you down? You may be eligible for student loan forgiveness. Read on to see how you can qualify and other ways to reduce your debt.

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Graduating college with tens of thousands in student loan debt can be frightening. Then there are the impending payments.

Luckily, you have some options. Loan forgiveness programs pay for a portion of student loan debt—and some eliminate monthly payments altogether. This is a great way to reduce, delay, or reorganize your payment or repayment status.

To explore loan forgiveness, you first need to know whether you have federal or private student loans. Keep reading to learn more.

Federal vs Private Student Loans

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As a student, you might have received federal, private, or even both types of loans. Here are the differences:

  • Federal student loans
    Subsidized and issued by the government. Most federal student loans are eligible for loan forgiveness and income-based repayment plans.

  • Private student loans
    Issued through banks and private lenders. They are NOT eligible for government-issued loan forgiveness programs. However, certain lenders may offer loan repayment assistance.

Tip: If you don't know whether you have federal or private loans, you can:

Standard Repayment Plan

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This is the default option. The plan evenly divides monthly payments over 10 years. Here's what that looks like using the average college debt of $37,172:

  • Loan amount: $37,172
  • Interest rate: 5%
  • Monthly payment: $394.27
  • Interest paid over the life of the loan: $10,140.01

Thanks to interest, that $37,000 you borrowed turned into $47,000 - and that's if you make your payments on time.

But don't worry, there are other ways to repay your student loans, including some that offer loan forgiveness. Read on to learn more.

Tip: Always pay your loans on time. Loan payments apply to interest first, then principal. By paying your loan late, your principal balance does not lower or payoff as quickly.

Here's a quick example: A $25,000 loan at 4.29% interest rate
Paid 4 days late = $11.75 less principal paid.

If you paid late for 12 months, this could easily top out over $140.00 a year in missed payments -- that's $1,400.00 over the life of the loan.

Income-Driven Plans with Forgiveness

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There are 4 income-driven repayment options. With each, your monthly payment is based on your income. If you earn very little, your payments could be as low as $0. The remainder of the loan balance will be forgiven after 20–25 years of repayment.

Here are important things to know about the income-driven forgiveness program:

  • Only federal loans are eligible
    Direct and Direct PLUS Loans are eligible. If you have other loans (such as Federal Stafford Loans or Perkins Loans), you may need to consolidate them into a Direct Consolidated Loan. Private loans and Parent PLUS loans are not eligible.

  • Your payment is based on discretionary income
    Your monthly payment can be as little as 10% of your discretionary income.

Read on for a breakdown of income-driven payment plans.

What is discretionary income?
Your discretionary income = Your adjusted gross income - 150% of the federal poverty level for your family size

For example, for a family of 1, 150% of the poverty level is $18,090. If your income is $40,000 a year (after taxes), your discretionary income = $40,000 - $18,090 = $21,910.

Income-Based Repayment (IBR)

You must have Federal Direct Loans or Federal Family Education Loans (Stafford, Federal PLUS Loans, and Federal Consolidation Loans) to qualify.

  • Loans taken out before July 1, 2014: Students pay 15% of their discretionary income. After 25 years of payments, any amount left over is forgiven.

  • Loans taken out after July 1, 2014: Students pay 10% of their discretionary income. After 20 years of payments, any leftover amount is forgiven.

As your income increases, so does your payment. The maximum payment is the amount of the Standard Repayment Plan's payment.

You Should Know
With the Income-Based Repayment plan, the government will pay your interest on subsidized loans for the first 3 years. After that, the unpaid interest may get added to your balance. Luckily, this won't happen until your IBR payment equals the Standard Repayment payment.

Pay as You Earn Repayment (PAYE)

Fewer graduates will be eligible for this program because of date restrictions.

  • You must be a new borrower after October 1, 2007. In other words, you must not have any student loans dating before this date. You must also have taken out an eligible loan after October 1, 2011.

  • Payments are 10% of your discretionary income. If you don't have an income right now, you don't have a payment.

  • Your outstanding balance is forgiven after 20 years of payments.

This loan's max payment also equals the Standard Repayment plan payment. Interest payback begins when you reach that amount.

Tip: You must reapply for these programs once every 12 months. Otherwise, the loans will resume at the Standard Repayment Amount.

Revised Pay as You Earn Repayment (REPAYE)

The REPAYE program is for those who don't fall into one of the above categories. Most importantly, there are no date restrictions. Only Parent PLUS loans and most private loans are excluded.

  • Payments are 10% of your discretionary income.

  • There is no cap on the payments, unlike the other plans we discussed thus far. As your income increases, so do your payments. This could make for some hefty payments if you become successful.

  • Your outstanding balance is forgiven after 20 years of payment. Because there is no payment cap, you won't have any interest added to your principal balance.

Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)

This is the only repayment plan available for borrowers with Parent PLUS loans. To be eligible, the Parent PLUS loans must first be consolidated into a Direct Consolidation Loan.

  • For the ICR plan, discretionary income = your adjusted gross income - 100% of the poverty level (instead of 150%).

  • Your payment is 20% of your discretionary income OR payments based on a 12-year repayment plan, whichever is less. This payment may also exceed the Standard Repayment Plan monthly payment.

  • The government does not subsidize any unpaid interest. 100% of the unpaid interest gets added to your loan balance annually. However, no more than 10% of the loan balance will be added.

Read on for other ways to get your student loans forgiven.

Tip: To see if you qualify for an income-driven repayment plan, create an account with the U.S. Department of Education and fill out the application online.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

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If you work for a government agency or nonprofit, you may be eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). To qualify, you must:

  • Be enrolled in one of the 4 Direct Loan Program repayment plans to qualify.

  • Work full-time and make 120 qualifying payments. Payments made before enrollment don't count as qualifying payments towards PSLF.

After 10 years of payments in any of the above plans, your loan balance may be forgiven. Fill out this form to learn if you are eligible for PSLF.

You Should Know:
If you have Federal Perkins Loans and/or Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL), you must consolidate them into a Direct Consolidated Loan in order to qualify for PSLF. And then you must make 120 payments towards the new consolidated loan.

Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation and Discharge

Perkins Loans are no longer offered. But if you took them out before the expiration, you can still be eligible for Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation. Look into this before you consolidate your Perkins Loans. Once you consolidate, you may no longer be eligible.

This forgiveness program can offer you 100% forgiveness in just 5 years. You get a fixed percentage of loans (plus interest) forgiven for each year of service. They are as follows:

  • 15% for the 1st year
  • 15% for the 2nd year (total 30%)
  • 20% for the 3rd year (total 50%)
  • 20% for the 4th year (total 70%)
  • 30% for the 5th year (total 100%)

A number of professions are eligible for this program, including teachers, nurses, firefighters, and law enforcement officers.

You must have taken out the Perkins Loan before 9/30/2017. And the loan can't be cancelled the same year it was disbursed. It's up to your school to decide if you qualify for forgiveness.

Warning: The IRS requires you to include any forgiven loan amounts as income. This means you'll be taxed on the forgiven amount. This may still be the better option. Your tax liability is often much lower than the amount forgiven.

LOAN FORGIVENESS PROGRAMS BY CAREER

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Several professions are eligible for this program, including teachers, nurses, firefighters, and law enforcement officers. Read on for more information.

Loan Forgiveness for Teachers

Teachers working at a low-income school for five consecutive years may qualify for loan forgiveness for teachers.

  • You must have state certification and have a license to teach in your state. Your loan cannot be in default, either.

  • Elementary school and middle school teachers may receive up to $5,000 in forgiveness. Teachers who specialize in math, science or special education may receive up to $17,500 in forgiveness.

Loan Forgiveness for Nurses

Nurses have a lot of forgiveness programs available to them.

  • Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program
    Eligible for nurses, RNs, APRNs, and nurse educators who work in an eligible Critical Shortage Facility or teach in an eligible public or private nonprofit school of nursing. After 2 years of service, you can get 60% of loan repayment. After another year, you can get 25% more.

  • National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program
    Provides loan repayment for health professionals working in medically underserved areas. This includes nurse practitioners and certified nurse-midwives. You can get up to $50,000 of repayment for a 2-year service.

Loan Forgiveness for Doctors

National Health Service Corps provides up to $50,000 towards your medical school debt for those serving in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs).

  • Eligible fields include primary care medical, dental, and behavioral health professional.
  • After your 2-year commitment, you can apply to continue your service in exchange for further loan forgiveness.

Loan Forgiveness for Military

  • Army
    Student Loan Repayment Program
    . Active members can get 33.33% of your loan balance paid for each year of service, up to $65,000 for 3 years.

    You must request the Loan Payment Program before enlisting. Also, you must score at least a 50 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. Those in the Reserves can get 15% each year, up to $20,000.

  • Navy
    Student Loan Repayment Program
    . Navy service members can receive up to $65,000 over the course of 3 years.

    To qualify, you must have had the loan prior to enlisting in the Navy. Also, you must include your application for the Repayment Program prior to enlisting.

  • Air Force
    Student Loan Repayment Program
    . Eligible for members of the Air Force Judge Advocate General Corps. You can get up to $65,000 over a 3-year period. This is paid directly to your student loan provider.

  • National Guard
    Members enlisted for a minimum of six-year terms of service are eligible for up to $50,000 a year in repayment assistance as long as they meet any additional eligibility criteria outlined in the ARNG Select Reserve Incentive Program Policy.

Loan Forgiveness for Attorneys

Attorneys have several loan forgiveness options available.

  • Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program
    Any Justice employee serving in or hired to serve in an attorney position may request consideration for the ASLRP.

    Awards are determined annually and are paid directly to the loan holder. A three-year service obligation to the Justice is required following the acceptance of funding.

  • John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program
    Public defenders can apply for the JRJ Student Loan Repayment Program and earn up to $10,000 per year for a maximum of $60,000 from The Bureau of Justice Statistics.

    A three-year service obligation is required following the acceptance of the award. The award is issued state by state with different requirements for each state.

If you are planning on becoming an attorney and eventually opening your own law firm, there's a lot of things to take into consideration. This article from Clio Blog lays out some helpful tips and tricks to know before starting up your firm.

Loan Forgiveness for Health Professions Faculty

Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) provides up to $40,000 for those interested in pursuing a career as a faculty member at a health professions school.

Applicants must:

  • Come from a disadvantaged background, based on environmental and/or economic factors.

  • Hold an eligible health professions degree or certificate.

  • Commit to employment as a faculty member at an approved health professions institution for a minimum of two years.

Loan Forgiveness for Federal Employees

Pay & Leave Student Loan Repayment Program permits agencies to repay federally insured student loans as a recruitment or retention incentive for candidates or current employees of the agency.

  • Payments may be made for the loan holder of the employee up to $10,000 maximum per calendar year and a total of no more than $60,000 for any one employee.

  • The federal employee must agree to remain in the service of the paying agency for a period of at least three years.

Loan Forgiveness for Indian Health Service Professional

Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program provides loan repayment for health professionals practicing in specific health facilities serving American Indian and Alaska Native communities.

  • Awards are given up to $20,000 per year for qualified student loans for an initial two-year service obligation.

Loan Forgiveness for National Health Service Corps Practitioners

National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program (NHSC LRP) awards practitioners serving NHSC-approved service sites in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA).

  • Awards are given up to $50,000 for two years of full-time service and up to $25,000 for two years of half-time service, depending upon the NHSA-approved site.

  • A minimum commitment of two years at the NHSA-approved site follows the award.

Loan Forgiveness for National Institutes of Health (NIH) Participants

The five National Institutes of Health (NIH) Loan Forgiveness extramural programs include the:

  • Clinical Research LRP

  • Pediatric Research LRP

  • Contraception & Infertility Research LRP

  • Health Disparities Research LRP

  • Clinical Research LRP for Individuals from Disadvantaged Backgrounds.

Program awardees are bound to service obligations to conduct qualifying research supported by a domestic nonprofit or United States government (federal, state, or local) entity for 50% of their time (at a minimum of 20 hours per week based on a 40-hour week) for at least two years.

Payment projections are based on eligible student loan debt at the start date of the program contract. The program will repay 25% of the eligible education debt, up to a maximum of $35,000 per year.

Loan Forgiveness for Veterinarians

The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program pays towards qualified educational loans of eligible veterinarians who agree to serve in a NIFA-designated veterinarian shortage situation for a period of three years.

  • Up to $25,000 is paid annually for qualified student loans for a maximum of three years.

STATE FORGIVENESS PLANS

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Forty-four states offer state-specific loan forgiveness programs. Click on the links provided to learn more about specific qualification requirements for each loan forgiveness program.

Loan Forgiveness Programs by State, 2019

Alabama
Alabama does not sponsor any state-level loan forgiveness programs. If you reside in Alabama, seek loan forgiveness at either the federal level or with your lender.

Alaska
Alaska offers one loan forgiveness program.

Arizona
Arizona offers four loan forgiveness programs.

If your state does not offer state-funded loan forgiveness programs, check out the loan forgiveness options for your federal loans. For private student loans, seek out your lender for loan forgiveness and repayment options that they might provide.

Arkansas
Arkansas offers two loan forgiveness programs.

  • State Teacher Education Program
    For teachers who teach in a public school located in a geographical area of the state designated as having a critical shortage of teachers or in a subject matter area designated as having a critical shortage of teachers of the state.

  • Arkansas Veterinary Loan Repayment Program
    For veterinarians who attended Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine and practice food supply veterinary medicine within the State of Arkansas.

California
California offers three loan forgiveness programs.

Colorado
Colorado offers three loan forgiveness programs.

Connecticut
Connecticut does not sponsor any state-level loan forgiveness programs. If you reside in Connecticut, seek loan forgiveness at either the federal level or with your lender.

Delaware
Delaware offers one loan forgiveness program.

  • Delaware State Loan Repayment Program
    For primary care, dental, and mental health care professionals with advanced or mid-level degrees with employment in identified health professional shortage areas (HPSAs).

Florida
Florida offers two loan forgiveness programs.

Georgia
Georgia offers five loan forgiveness programs.

Hawaii
Hawaii offers one loan forgiveness program.

Idaho
Idaho does not sponsor any state-level loan forgiveness programs. If you reside in Idaho, seek loan forgiveness at either the federal level or with your lender.

Illinois
Illinois offers three loan forgiveness programs.

Indiana
Indiana does not sponsor any state-level loan forgiveness programs. If you reside in Indiana, seek loan forgiveness at either the federal level or with your lender.

Iowa
Iowa offers four loan forgiveness programs.

  • Teach Iowa Scholar Program
    For teachers currently teaching in Iowa schools in designated shortage areas.

  • Iowa Health Professional Recruitment Program
    For osteopathic doctors, physician assistants, podiatrists, and physical therapists practicing in high-need communities in Iowa.

  • Iowa
    For nurse and nurse educators teaching full-time at eligible Iowa colleges and universities, as well as applicants who agree to practice full-time as registered nurses, advanced registered nurse practitioners, and physician assistants in designated service commitment areas.

  • Rural Iowa Primary Care Loan Repayment Program
    For physicians who graduated from Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine or the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and practice in eligible service areas in Iowa.
    Kansas: Kansas offers three loan forgiveness programs.

  • Rural Opportunity Zones Student Loan Repayment Program
    For graduates holding an associate's, bachelor's, or post-graduate degree and have established residency in a designated Rural Opportunity zone in Kansas.

  • Kansas State Loan Repayment Program
    For health care professionals with qualifying educational loans.

  • Kansas Bridging Plan
    For primary care and psychiatry residents who agree to practice in an eligible Kansas county for a 36-month commitment.

Kentucky
Kentucky offers one loan forgiveness program.

Louisiana
Louisiana offers three loan forgiveness e programs.

Maine
Maine offers seven loan forgiveness programs.

  • Educators for Maine Program
    For students pursuing careers in education or child care in Maine and planning to work in Maine after graduation.

  • Alfond Leaders Program
    For people who work in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) designated occupation at a Maine-based employer.

  • Maine Dental Education Loan Program
    For students pursuing a career as a dentist and planning to work in Maine after graduation in an underserved area of the state in an eligible dental care facility.

  • Maine Veterinary Medicine Loan Program
    For students pursuing a career as a veterinarian in Maine who show an interest in an area with insufficient veterinary services.

  • Tuition Waiver Program (Foster Care)
    For certain foster children and adopted children/wards students who are under subsidy from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services for a participating Main public college/university.

  • Tuition Waiver Program (Public Servant)
    For children or spouses of Maine firefighters, law enforcement officers, or emergency medical services providers killed in the line of duty for a participating Maine public college/university.

  • Main Law Loan Repayment Assistance Program
    For University of Maine School of Law graduates who pursue public interest careers that meet certain eligibility requirements.

Maryland
Maryland offers six loan forgiveness programs.

Massachusetts
Massachusetts offers one loan forgiveness program.

  • Massachusetts Loan Forgiveness Programs
    For health care professionals in the fields of dental, medical, and mental health who serve in communities with barriers to access.
    Michigan: Michigan offers two loan forgiveness programs.

  • Michigan State Loan Repayment Program
    For the recruitment and retention of primary medical, dental, and mental health care providers who meet eligibility and program requirements.
    Minnesota: Minnesota offers thirteen loan forgiveness programs.

  • Minnesota Health Care Loan Forgiveness Program
    For the recruitment and retention of health care professionals and educators to needed areas and facilities in Minnesota and meet specific eligibility requirements.

  • Minnesota Rural Veterinarian Loan Repayment Program
    For students or practicing veterinarians at the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota, who serve or dedicate to serving in designated rural areas in Minnesota.
    Mississippi: Mississippi offers one loan forgiveness program.

  • For teachers employed in a critical geographical or subject area in the state of Mississippi.

  • Mississippi Teacher Loan Repayment Program.

Missouri
Missouri offers two loan forgiveness programs.

Montana
Montana offers two loan forgiveness programs.

Nebraska
Nebraska offers one loan forgiveness program.

  • Nebraska Loan Repayment Program
    For health professionals who are fully licensed and practicing in designated shortage areas for their specialty. The areas of health profession specialties include physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, dentists, clinical psychologists, licensed mental health practitioners, pharmacist, occupations therapists, and physical therapists.

Nevada
Nevada offers one loan forgiveness program.

  • Nevada Health Service Corps
    For health professionals who meet licensure standards in Nevada and practice in specific health professions in assigned communities to encourage the serving of rural communities lacking in health resources and support.

New Hampshire
New Hampshire offers two loan forgiveness programs.

New Jersey
New Jersey offers three loan forgiveness programs.

New Mexico
New Mexico offers three loan forgiveness programs.

New York
New York offers twelve loan forgiveness programs.

North Carolina
North Carolina offers three loan forgiveness programs.

Ohio
Offers three loan forgiveness programs.

Oklahoma
Oklahoma offers three loan forgiveness programs.

Oregon
Oregon offers three loan forgiveness programs.

Rhode Island
Rhode Island offers four loan forgiveness programs.

South Carolina
South Carolina offers two loan forgiveness programs.

Tennessee
Tennessee does not sponsor any state-level loan forgiveness programs.

If you reside in Tennessee, seek loan forgiveness at either the federal level or with your lender.

Texas
Texas offers six loan forgiveness programs.

Utah
Utah does not sponsor any state-level loan forgiveness programs. If you reside in Utah, seek loan forgiveness at either the federal level or with your lender.

Vermont
Vermont offers four loan forgiveness programs.

Virginia
Virginia offers two loan forgiveness programs.

Washington
Washington offers one loan forgiveness program.

West Virginia
West Virginia offers five loan forgiveness programs.

Wisconsin
Wisconsin offers two loan forgiveness programs.

Wyoming
Wyoming offers one loan forgiveness program.

  • For veterinarians practicing in Wyoming in approved areas including areas that are underserved and in need of Food Animal Veterinary Services according to the loan repayment program.

  • Wyoming Veterinary Loan Repayment Program

U.S. Territories

The District of Columbia: Washington, D.C., offers two loan forgiveness programs.

EMPLOYEE STUDENT LOAN ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS

Student Loan Repayment Plans (SLRPs) are gaining popularity as a company benefit offered by employers as part of employee assistance packages.

Common SLRP options:

  • Employer pays the student loan off in full.

  • Employer pays a portion of the student loan.

Check with your employer to find out if they offer the SLRP benefit, and what specific eligibility and benefit parameters they have in place.

Warning: Employer contributions paid toward employee tuition or student loans is considered taxable income by the United States government.

If loan forgiveness isn't an option, you may be able to get out of your loans another way. Read on to learn more.

Loan Discharge Options

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Federal loans may be discharged due to a catastrophic event. These may include the following scenarios.

Closed school

Maybe you went to a school, either in the United States or overseas, that closed. You may be eligible for a federal loan discharge in that case.

  • Did your school close after you obtained your student loan?

  • Did the school close while you were enrolled?

  • Did the school close within 120 days after you withdrew?

Read here to learn more about loan discharge due to school closure.

Passing of a student

Another type of discharge available is when a student, or a parent borrower of a PLUS loan, has passed away. The federal loan servicer handling the student's loans will require a certified death certificate to authenticate it and then discharge the loans.

  • Did your parent take out a PLUS loan for your education, and are they now deceased?

  • Are you the parent, and the student is now deceased?

Read here to learn more about how to get your loans discharged due to the death of the borrower or student.

Disability

If a student becomes disabled and is no longer able to perform the duties for which they received the federal student aid, they may be eligible for a discharge.

  • Are you permanently disabled?

  • Does your disability prohibit you from doing the work for which you took out the student loan?

Read here to learn more about how to get your loans discharged due to total and permanent disability.

Students who went to a career college for Commercial Driver's License training may be eligible for a discharge if they became an insulin-dependent diabetic. Or, if you are a veteran, you may qualify for discharge if you have received a VA disability.

Bankruptcy

In rare cases, you may have your federal student loan discharged if the bankruptcy court determines that repayment would impose undue hardship on you and your dependents. You must declare Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and the hardship must be decided through proceedings in bankruptcy court.

  • Have you filed Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

  • If you have not filed for bankruptcy, and you feel you meet the financial and hardship qualifications, meet with a bankruptcy attorney.

Read here to learn more about student loan bankruptcy discharge.

False certification of eligibility or unauthorized signature/unauthorized payment

You may be eligible for discharge of your Direct or federal loans if criteria surrounding false certifications, signatures, or authorization by your school are met.

  • Did your school falsely certify your eligibility to receive the loan based on your ability to benefit from its training?

  • Was your loan falsely certified because you were a victim of identity theft?

  • Did the school certify your loan eligibility but due to extenuating circumstances you cannot meet state requirements for employment in the area for which you were trained?

  • Did the school sign your name on the application or promissory note without your authorization?

  • Did the school endorse your loan check or authorized for electronic funds transfer without your knowledge, and the money was not given to you or applied to charges that you owed to the school?

Read here to learn more about false certification of student eligibility or unauthorized signature/unauthorized payment discharge.

Unpaid refund discharge

Your school may be required to return a portion of your loan money if you withdrew from school after receiving a student loan.

  • Did you attend the school for less than 60% of the academic period for which your loan was issued?

    If so, check with them to find out how federal refund policies apply to federal aid. You may also contact your loan servicer for additional information.

Refinancing won't remove your student loans, but it can save you a lot of money in repaying them. Read on for more information.

Refinancing Your Student Loans

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Refinancing your student loans can lower your interest rate, which may mean thousands of dollars saved on interest. A higher percentage of your monthly payments will now go toward your principal balance.

Student loan refinance options vary, so you'll want to shop around with private lenders to find the best deal. Look for refinancing terms that offer:

  • Lower Interest Rates
    Interest rates vary because they are based on individual credit and income. Check the rates from several lenders and keep the search within a 14-day window. This way it only counts as one credit inquiry on your credit report.

  • Fixed Rate
    With a fixed interest rate, your payments won't change over the life of your loan.

    Keep in mind: A variable rate might be a better option IF you can pay your loan off early. Variable rates are often lower than fixed rates, which can save you money.

    But your monthly payment might go up if the interest rate increases. If you aren't sure how long it will take to pay off your debt, stick with a fixed rate.

  • No Fees
    You don't have to pay origination fees for a private student loan. Steer clear of lenders that include early repayment penalties in the contract. You do not want to pay more for a loan simply because you are paying it off early.

What's the difference between refinancing and consolidating?

Refinancing student loans gives you the option to find a better rate and term. Consolidating your federal student loans means lumping multiple loans into one. You'll pay a weighted average of all interest rates on your loans.

You can refinance both federal and private loans, but you can only consolidate federal student loans. If you decide to refinance, you will lose out on any federal loan benefits, such as federal loan forgiveness.

To learn more about the benefits of student loan consolidation, check out our guide.

How to Qualify for Refinancing

Follow these steps:

  1. Visit one or more of the websites here and fill in your information. You will receive offers for loan refinancing.

  2. Read and understand the rates and terms of your offer(s).

  3. Choose an offer and accept the terms.

Still have questions about loan forgiveness? Find the answers below.

Common Questions

  • How long does it take to have a student loan forgiven?
    It depends on the program you apply for. For an income-driven repayment plan, it can take up to 25 years of payments before your loans are forgiven.

    The PSLF program forgives your loans after 10 years. Other programs for teachers, nurses, and doctors can have loans forgiven in a little as 2 years.

  • Are federal student loans forgiven at age 65?
    No. In the US, age-based loan forgiveness does not exist. In fact, the federal government can reduce your Social Security retirement benefits if you default on your student loan.

  • Do they forgive student loans after 20 years?
    The federal income-driven repayment plans will forgive any remaining federal student loan debt after 20 or 25 years of payments (depending on your plan). You can enroll in one of the forgiveness programs if you have Direct Federal Loans.

  • Can student loans be removed from my credit report?
    Student loans are only removed from credit reports after they are fully paid. Negative remarks (such as a late payment) will stay on your credit report for 7 years before being removed.

    If you're in default with federal loans, a one-time rehabilitation option is available that will remove negative remarks and bring your loan current.

Bottom Line

Paying off student loan debt takes a lot of discipline and hard work. Your ultimate focus should be on keeping the cost of repayment down over the life of your loan. But take the time to research loan forgiveness and other types of assistance. If you

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