Student Loan Forgiveness: What You Need to Know and How to Qualify

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit seeking to block student loan forgiveness, leading to over 800,000 borrowers in the U.S. seeing their loans erased. The student debt is worth about $39 billion and was owed by borrowers who’ve been making 20 to 25 years’ worth of payments.

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The borrowers involved in these plans for forgiveness include those with direct loans or federal family education loans held by the department, including Parent PLUS loans. Many of the borrowers affected are likely 50 or older, with an estimated 9.2 million falling into this category.

If you don’t qualify for loan forgiveness through these programs, a career in public service may be the answer to student debt cancellation. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program encourages employment in sectors that benefit the public, such as emergency management, medical professionals, law enforcement officers, early childhood educators, public health professionals, and social workers.

Student Loan Forgiveness
Student Loan Forgiveness

Full-time teachers at low-income elementary and secondary schools or people working at educational service agencies may be eligible for $5,000 to $17,500 in student loan forgiveness under the teacher loan forgiveness program. Highly qualified math, science, and special education instructors are eligible for up to $17,500.

In 2021, over 1 million Americans were qualifying borrowers under the public service loan forgiveness program, but the program faced major criticism for being difficult to navigate. In 2022, the Biden administration temporarily expanded eligibility to include borrowers who had loans that didn’t originally qualify.

If teaching or a career in public service isn’t appealing to you, there are a few other cases where borrowers may qualify for discharged loans: death, false eligibility for a loan, and, in some rare cases, bankruptcy. Borrowers with Federal Perkins loans have access to a separate forgiveness program, and the Education Department announced that loan forgiveness for the borrowers in question has begun.

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