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I’m Looking for Forgiveness or Discharge Options

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You may be wondering if there are loan forgiveness or discharge programs for which you may qualify. Let’s explore the programs that are in place, have been recently rolled out, and are on the horizon.

Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Payment Count Adjustment and Loan Forgiveness

Under income-driven repayment (IDR) plans, any remaining loan balance is forgiven if a borrower’s federal student loans aren't fully repaid at the end of the repayment period (either 20 or 25 years, depending on the type of plan).

In 2023, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) notified hundreds of thousands of borrowers that due to the Biden-Harris Administration’s recent fixes to income-driven repayment (IDR) intended to help borrowers get closer to or achieve loan forgiveness, all or some of their student loans would be forgiven. Borrowers who received these notices qualified under this payment count adjustment because they had reached a required number of payments (240 or 300 months) under IDR, whether or not they’d ever participated in an IDR plan.

ED will continue to identify and notify borrowers who reach the necessary forgiveness threshold of 240 or 300 months’ worth of qualifying payments, depending on the repayment plan and type of loan. They will send these notifications out every two months into 2024, at which point all borrowers who are not yet eligible for forgiveness will have their payment counts updated. ED will work with eligible borrowers’ loan servicers to process their forgiveness. Make sure to keep your contact information up to date with Nelnet and on StudentAid.gov.

For more information about this payment count adjustment, visit StudentAid.gov/idradjustment.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

If you work in public service (for example, a government or nonprofit organization), you may qualify for forgiveness of the remaining balance of your Direct Loans * after making 120 qualifying payments while employed full time (30 or more hours per week per week) by certain public service employers. If you think you may qualify, you’re encouraged to use the PSLF Help Tool to search for a qualifying employer and apply for PSLF.

*Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) loans may become eligible if you consolidate them into a Direct Consolidation Loan. See Nelnet.com/pslf for more details.

ED has announced that they are conducting a payment count adjustment for eligible borrowers that may increase the number of payments you’ve made in the past that now count toward PSLF, bringing you closer to forgiveness. For more information about this payment count adjustment and its effects on PSLF applicants, visit StudentAid.gov/idradjustment.

Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) Plan

The SAVE Plan is an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan that debuted in 2023 that calculates your monthly payment amount based on your income and family size. The SAVE Plan provides the lowest monthly payments of any IDR plan available to nearly all student borrowers, with forgiveness benefits after a required number of payments. Additional benefits will go into effect in July 2024. See StudentAid.gov/Save for details.

Other Types of Loan Discharge and Forgiveness

You may be eligible for Teacher Loan Forgiveness of up to $17,500 on your Direct or FFELP loans if you teach full time for five complete and consecutive academic years in a low-income elementary school, secondary school, or educational service agency. For more details, visit StudentAid.gov.

You may qualify for student loan discharge (also sometimes referred to as cancellation) due to circumstances such as school closure, being misled by your school, a school's false certification of your eligibility to receive a loan, a school's failure to pay a required loan refund, or in the case of your death, total and permanent disability, or bankruptcy. For a list of loan discharge types and their eligibility criteria, see Nelnet.com/forgiveness.

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