Student loans have to be paid whether you are earning less, or you are unemployed. There is no magic to make them go away but yes there are loan forgiveness programs that can help for a debt free future. Below are some of the listed programs which will help you to get rid of your loans down the line if you fulfill the eligibility criteria. That means if the federal loan is forgiven, discharged or cancelled borrower will not have to pay the loan thereafter.
Now there are some things to keep in mind regarding forgiveness. Only federal loans can be covered under forgiveness programs. Secondly, your loan cannot be in default.
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness:
To be eligible for this plan, you need to work fulltime with not-for-profit organization or for federal, central or state government for 10 years. This plan started in October 2007, so payments made after this time will be eligible. You can apply for forgiveness after 120 timely, monthly payments and you while applying you still need to be working with not-for-profit organization or government. Also your repayment should be income driven.
Other important factor is that you need to fill Employee Certification Form each year which you either can submit each year or can shoe retrospectively to Fed loan Servicing.
There is one caution here, you need to take your career decision very seriously as 10 years is not a short time to spend in a career.
- Teacher Loan Forgiveness
To be eligible under this program, you need to be a full time teacher in low income elementary school or secondary school. This plan started on October 1, 1998, so repayments made after this date only are eligible. The forgiveness amount will vary from $5000 to $17,500 (for teachers teaching science, mathematics or special education). You can also take advantage of public service loan forgiveness if you teach for 15 years and more.
To apply for this forgiveness plan, you need to fill teacher loan forgiveness application.
- Income Driven Repayment:
This plan is driven by your income. Now this is not a straight forward forgiveness plan but it helps for huge debt. So to be eligible for this plan, you need to make consistent payments for 20 to 25 years and then apply for forgiveness. You need to inform your lender about your changed income from time to time. Also this is relevant if your payment is less than what it would be under a standard plan.
There is one downside to it that you will accrue more interest and also the amount forgiven will be taxable. At the same time it is beneficial to have less monthly payments than go into default.
To apply for this you need to submit application form to StudentLoans.gov or you can consult with our expert Bruce Mesnekoff
- Perkins Loan Cancellation:
Only Perkins loans are eligible under this plan. In this plan, borrowers can have 100% loans cancelled if they work in public service jobs after 5 years. Teachers must work full time in low paying public school or should teach special education, science or mathematics. These loans are disbursed by your school; they will provide you the required application.
Your loan gets cancelled incrementally with each year for eg. 15% in first and second year, 20% in third and fourth year gets cancelled and so on.
All these forgiveness plans have specific ifs and buts. It would be advisable if you analyze all these considering your own financial goals and current financial situation to form a plan which suits you.