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From the Experts at

Paying Off Your Student Loans with Forgiveness Programs

by Lucy Lazarony

Paying Off Your Student Loans with Forgiveness Programs

Looking for some help with your massive student loan debt? Why not roll up your sleeves and do some good? By volunteering or choosing to work in service-oriented professional jobs in lower income communities, you could cancel a huge chunk of your federal student loans. You could knock off thousands and thousands of dollars of student loan debt after just a couple of years of service. Who knew doing some good could be so incredibly good for your bottom line? Want to see exactly how much student loan debt you are carrying and find out how it is impacting your credit score? Use’s Free Credit Report Card tool and find out now.

Loan forgiveness programs are available to everyone from Peace Corps and AmeriCorps volunteers to teachers, nurses, doctors, and other young professionals serving communities in need. Professionals choosing to work jobs in communities in need may take home lower-paying salaries, but they’ll also get some serious help paying their student loans.

Here’s a roundup of the loan forgiveness programs and volunteer programs available to recent grads and young professionals:

Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program

This program repays up to 60 percent of student loans for registered nurses who agree to work full-time (32 hours or more each week) for two years in a non-profit facility in need of nurses. Nurses that choose to work a third year have the opportunity to repay an additional 25 percent of their student loans.

Repaying as much as 85 percent of student loan debt after 3 years is some deal. For more information, visit the website of the Health Resources and Services Administration.

National Health Service Corps

Doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, dentists, dental hygienists and mental health professionals including psychologists, social workers, and marriage and family therapists can wipe out a big chunk of their education debt by choosing to work for two years in an under-served community.

In exchange for two years of full-time employment, up to $25,000 in student loans will be repaid each year. Further loan repayment is available if you choose to serve beyond the two-year contract. One-year amendments are available with up to $35,000 available in loan repayments.

Healthcare professionals with extra-heavy student debt burdens could pay down as much as $50,000 in loan debt in just two years and as much as $85,000 of loan debt in three years. Talk about a great opportunity.

Loan Forgiveness Program for Teachers

Teachers who are willing to make a five-year commitment to a school in need can get some much-needed help with their student loans. The richest rewards are reserved for science, math, and special education teachers.

Science and math teachers who work in low-income high schools may be able to cancel as much as $17,500 of their federal Stafford loans. This money gets eliminated from a teacher’s loan balance after he or she completes five years of teaching at a designated low-income school.

Special education teachers who work in designated low-income schools for five years may be eligible for as much as $17,500 in loan forgiveness for their federal Stafford loans.

Other full-time teachers working in a designated low-income elementary or high school for five years may be able to cancel as much as $5,000 of their federal Stafford loans.

For more information on teacher loan forgiveness programs, visit the U.S. Department of Education’s website.

The College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 created a new loan forgiveness program for public service employees. This program requires quite a commitment – 10 years working as a public service professional. But the payoff – the cancellation of all remaining federal direct loans after 10 years of service — may be just the incentive a heavily-indebted college grad needs to choose a lower-paying, service-oriented career path.

Eligible public service jobs include everything from emergency management, public health and safety and law enforcement to social work, child care, library sciences, public interest law services, and jobs serving people with disabilities and the elderly.

To be eligible for this program, you must make 10 years of consecutive, on-time repayments of your federal direct loans. This program also includes federal direct consolidation loans, so it would be possible to consolidate federal Stafford loans into the direct loan program and therefore be eligible for the cancellation of your remaining loan debt after 10 years of service. Keep in mind that the standard repayment period for federal student loans is 10 years. If you choose standard repayment for your student loans and keep up with your payments, your student loans will be paid in full in 10 years. You won’t qualify for loan forgiveness because you’ll have no remaining debt left to forgive! Only grads that are eligible for reduced student loan payments, because of very high debt levels or consistently low salaries, would be eligible for this loan forgiveness program. To qualify, they would still need to make 10 years of on-time payments through an income-based or income-contingent repayment plan and work full-time for 10 years in a public-service job.

Loan Forgiveness for Volunteer Programs

Peace Corps volunteers with Perkins loans can cancel as much as 70 percent of their debt after four years of service. Peace Corps volunteers who complete a two-year term can wipe out 30 percent of their Perkins loans’ balance. Another 20 percent can be cancelled upon completion of a third and fourth years of service. Federal student loan payments may also be deferred while serving in the Peace Corps.

Members of AmeriCorps receive education awards of $4,725 for each year of service. These awards can be applied to student loans or future education expenses. And 78 colleges and universities across the country match AmeriCorps education awards for their students. So if you continue your education after your AmeriCorps service you could have as much as $9,450 available for your tuition!

To find out how much student loan debt you are carrying and to see the impact on your credit score, use’s Credit Report Card tool. It’s completely free and updated every month, so you can track your progress as you pay down your student loans.

  • mike howard

    How can a nurse work fulltime sufficiently take care of their family and do 32 additional 32 hours a week?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      It’s not 32 hours on top of a regular work week. It’s simply that you don’t qualify if you only work in nursing part-time.

    • OhMy

      Gerri Detweiler is correct. 32 hours is the minimum hours you can work and still apply. If you work less than 32 hours…you are part time.

  • Julissa

    I have a question, I am enrolled at school to obtain a BA in Social Work, I then want to go for my Master’s. Problem is school is becoming way too expensive. I heard about this program and wanted to know if I would be eligible.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Do you have federal student loans? If so I suggest you check out this student loan forgiveness chart which summarizes options. If you can’t get loan forgiveness working specifically as a nurse it sounds like you could be eligible for income-based repayment (if you qualify).

    • Mark

      The sad part of this is the income based doesn’t always work. I have more loans than I should, House, truck, car, etc… My loan holder wants more than 180 a month and I don’t have that to give with having insurance (medical/dental/vison). What else can be done. They just keep taxing and adding on penalties. I was jobless for 2 yrs and they just put more debt on me. I didn’t have money to give yet they charged late fee’s. Now I finally have a job and am so far in the hole there is no way out. They just keep burying me in penalties that I cant afford.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        I would recommend you get a second opinion from someone other than your servicer. You can get a free consult with Joshua Cohen, the Student Loan Lawyer, or you can visit for more information. It has been well documented that servicers don’t always give borrowers complete and accurate advice about their options. That’s not to say there is a program that will definitely work for you, but you do want to make sure you explore all possibilities.

  • Teresa Mc Daniel

    I am 59 and cannot find any full time work that pays more than $11.00 an hour. I am in debt for 70 grand for an MBA from University of Phoenix that doesn’t hold water.

    • MAC1950

      I’m 64 and owe $130K plus. Am on disability and can’t even find a job for more than $8 per hour.
      Hey Obama forgave illegals for committing the crime of sneaking into this country the least he could do is forgive the student debt when is less than these blood suckers who are undocumented. Perhaps we can find employment with their criminal selves headed back where they belong.
      He doesn’t want to break up families what a crock! He’ll ruin us though.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Are you in Income Based Repayment? If so please check it out. If you are not eligible for it because your student loans are older, you may become eligible within the year because President Obama signed an executive order expanding that program. Under IBR your payments may be as low as $0 and balances will eventually be forgiven.

      • Tish Mata

        Gerri Detweiler is right. Income Based Repayment is the way to go. My $12,000 loans were in some sort of forbearance or deferment for 13 years and grew to almost $20K before I found out about it. But now, based on my income, I owe a payment of $0 per month. You MUST reapply every year however and usually about 3 months before your current time period is up because of the length of time it takes to process the paperwork.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Thanks so much for sharing your story and I am glad it helped.

          • Wendy

            I’ve been in the IBR for a while now, I guess with me my thought is, eventually it’ll need to be paid, but what if I never make enough money and my required payment stays at $0??

          • Gerri Detweiler

            If you continue in the program then eventually the remaining balance will be forgiven.

      • T.C.

        I know why don’t you take a job in the fields like the migrant workers your so worried about, and maybe you can work off your debt that way. Oh by the way I’m sure you wouldn’t last not one day doing such hard labor. You ought to do one thing before you dole out your racism. Look at the face
        of all the pan handlers in your community and I bet you won’t see not one brown skinned person in the lot. Why because the would rather work the fields before stooping to beg for money.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Mac – I am editing your comment as we are trying to help people by answering their questions on this blog and not to get into political discussions. The problem of student loan debt dates back a while, and is not at this point a partisan issue.

          • George

            if they say forgiveness why don’t they just get rid of all the student loans like it says to forgive it i think it is all a lie there is no forgiving at all they make u just consolidate it first for like 50 years!! to a lesser payment thats all there is no forgiveness!!!

          • Gerri Detweiler

            With some of the programs there is actual forgiveness (I have a relative who got all debt forgiven due to work in the medical field in a rural area) but it’s certainly not for all loans.

          • Cami

            I applied and was accepted for a rural area program. I have lived and worked in the area for almost a year. Problem is that the state of Kansas accepted me, but the county I live in has no money to help pay their 1/2 share, so the state won’t pay any either. Not fair at all.

          • Gerri Detweiler

            That’s really a shame. Have you looked into IBR as an alternative for the time being?

      • Mia

        You should contact the Department of Education and request information on discharging your debt because you are disabled. I did.

      • wayne warf

        If you have certain types of loans, such as Direct Student Loans, and are totally disabled for a year or more you can apply for forgiveness.

        • Michael Bonaparte

          I have been disable for over 2 years. I can’t even pay my rent because of the Social Security Benefit I receives. It is a small amount and sure will seek a loan forgiveness. Thanks for the information.

      • Theresa J Lydy

        If your on disability, student loan debt is forgiven.

    • Anita

      same here. I’ve only had just above minimum wage jobs and now I’m unemployed at 57 and my credit is ruined.

  • Credit Experts

    Dear stilldeepindebt,

    Here’s one resource, Pssst…Want to Know The Best Kept Secret In Student Loans? and you can find others by using the search bar at the upper right of any page. The loans that are eligible for these programs are federal loans (Stafford, PLUS and others). More information is here: The Ultimate Guide to Student Loans

  • Credit Experts

    We’ve emailed you, totherightofleft, and are gathering information about your options.

    • totherightofleft


  • Gerri Detweiler

    You may have gotten wrong advice from your servicer about having to make payments while you’re being garnished. It is not uncommon for them to incorrectly advise borrowers. Joshua Cohen, “The Student Loan Lawyer” who we frequently quote in our articles offers a free 15 minute consultation. You may want to take advantage of that to see how you can get back on track. Let us know what happens.

  • Tish Mata

    The bigger problem I’m seeing is not so much the Student Loans, but the inability to get a job after college, ESPECIALLY if you are an older adult, that pays enough money to cover the cost of normal living expenses, insurance, servicing the loans, AND having margin for savings. My husband completed his Bachelor’s Degree three years ago and it seems to have only qualified him for the most basic of entry level positions paying about $12 per hour and it is SEASONAL at that. By the time the employer takes out taxes, insurance, and TSP, over 60% of his check is gone. His take home is similar to the kids working for minimum wage with no benefits!

    It used to be that a Bachelor’s Degree was your key out of poverty and into the Middle Class. In my opinion, a Bachelor’s Degree is not worth anything more than a high school diploma was worth 30 years ago when I graduated high school. And yet, the cost of that degree has skyrocketed. It just no longer seems like it provides a good return on the investment unless you are going into a specialized field like engineering, medicine, etc.

    This has caused us to completely change our approach to our children’s higher education – to the point that we are seeking alternative avenues. We know HVAC guys, plumbers, and welders with just six months of technical education that make over twice what we make, and my husband and I have three jobs each just to cover everything.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Yes, these are exactly the kinds of issues contributor Bob Sullivan has been writing about in his series The Restless Project. Here’s one of his articles: U.S. Ranks Only 12th in Well-Being Survey

    • Rebecca

      I agree with you. I have a Bachelors in healthcare administrative and I have not been able to find a job due to the lack of experience I have. I did not push my son to go to college after he finished high school nor will I push my younger son. I have a job but being a single parent can not afford the cost for schooling. OBAMA pushed for people to go back to school to better their education but we are suffering because of it. I spent 4 years in school for nothing except to be in debt and owe the state more money.

  • Janice M Likens

    I, too, am nearly 60 years of age and cannot seem to get above the $27K per year. my debt for student loans is over $50K. I stupidly thought if I got my master’s degree I could get a good paying job. ain’t gonna happen, captain. I cannot afford to make any payments towards student loans, make a car note (that I have to have for the $27K job) and pay insurance for the car. now the government wants to tax me more because I cannot afford health insurance with a $6K deductible per year. after paying bills just to survive, I barely have enough for groceries. where does it all end?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      So sorry to hear what you are struggling with. Have you looked into income-based repayment for your student loans?

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Janice – if your income dropped you should be able to apply to have your payments readjusted. I know it’s a lot of work to keep up with this but it’s really important you try to use the programs available to you, or you may find yourself in an even more stressful situation. You’ll find more information here. IBRinfo,org.

  • karebear

    I am 47 years old. I attended the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale 2 year program when it was still a trade school. My original loans were less than 18K. I was a young, single mother and had problems making payments. I ask for forbearance often. By 1995 the loans were 26K. I consulted a bankruptcy attorney who told me to consolidate the loans. I did with Sallie Mae. By 2001 the loans were up to 42K. I got married and we made regular payments for nearly 6 years. The loan amount never went down. We were both out of work in 2007 and moved out of state for a job for my husband. We have small children so I got a part time job on the weekends. Even so, we could not make the payments. I made income based repayments for a few years and watched the loan get bigger and bigger. It was up in the 50s when I read about an income based payment where your interest was paid for you for 3 years. I read this on Sallie Mae’s website. I guess I read wrong, because after signing up for the program and paying for a year, the loan was up to 62K.
    It broke my heart. I cannot tell you the huge burden I feel with these loans. I have paid over 30K on loans that were originally less than 18K and that were consolidated at 26K. I have worked in my field, but not using the very expensive education I received at AIFL. The year after I left, everything shifted to computers. I had one computer class the whole time I was at AIFL. Everything that I learned there was done by hand. I learned everything on a computer at the first job I got in my field, 4 years after I left AIFL. I had taken a job on the midnight shift to get my foot in the door. I waited and when a job opened up in the Graphics department there, I applied and I got it “because of my personality”. They trained me on how to do computer design.
    Anyway, you can get released from every kind of debt that I am aware of, but student loan debt. I would be very, very happy if a judge would simply stop this monster of a loan in it’s tracks – stop the interest – and just let me pay it off. Paying on a loan for years and years and never once making a dent in it, but watching it grow and grow, is horrible. When I saw that the loan had gone up to 62K, I just shut down. I stopped paying. The loan is in collections now and is over 90K. They want me to sign up for the rehab program, but doesn’t that ERASE all my payment history and start me at day one/payment one? When my loan is sold, I am at the mercy of whomever buys it – as far as my payment goes. Is there any hope of loan forgiveness? There is new legislation out or coming out that protects people against schools such as the one that I attended (Art Institutes programs have changed) where they charge you high prices for an education that is not adequate for you to work in the field earning enough to pay back the loans. It does not help me. I need a miracle.

    • Credit Experts

      So sorry to hear you’re going through this. We have emailed you.

    • fer

      i’d like to see the answer to this specific situation. i am in just the same one.

      • Credit Experts

        In a nutshell, it was that stopping payments was a huge mistake. It was possible “karebear” did not understand or had not been told that the remainder of the loan would be forgiven after 25 years of payments on the income-based repayment plan. However, because she gave up and stopped paying, the clock will now re-set when she begins again.

        • David Stark

          It seems to me that a debtor should be able to get a judge to declare a debt satisfied after the lender has collected an amount far in excess of what was originally borrowed.

        • savanna23

          While that may be true, what I have discovered is that when you have your loans consolidated, you end up actually being charged twice for the loan! I have 2 consolidated loans. When I looks on the US Dept. of Education’s website to look at my loan balance; I see the consolidated loans and what their monthly payment amount is and I see my current loans through the Dept. of Education and those consolidated loans are in there as well! Hence I am being charged twice for one loan!!!

    • Patti Crockett Branch

      I am in a similar situation, I had a child that was born with a birth defect. Then my husband was diagnosed with a terminal illness and later died. My $40,000 loan is now over $200,000 after deferment and forbearances. I have worked for 2 state governments for 12 years total but have never been able to pay consistently for 10 years straight. I see no hope in sight!

  • Credit Experts

    Tom —
    It varies by the loan. Factors that affect it include whether it’s a federal loan or a private one, and if there was a co-signer. We wrote about it here: What Happens to Student Loans When You Die?

  • Gerri Detweiler

    There certainly are downsides but the jury is out yet on the tax issue. I suspect Congress is going to do something about that but you’re right, it’s not guaranteed. And I agree it’s not perfect – there can be downsides for some borrowers, but right now there aren’t many other options for those who truly can’t afford their payments.

  • Credit Experts

    You can find application information here:

  • Gerri Detweiler

    You may currently be eligible for the Income Based Repayment program which offers public service loan forgiveness. Visit for more information.

    Currently this forgiven debt is likely taxable but Congress has not yet indicated whether it will change that.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Have you disputed it with the credit reporting agencies? I’d suggest you do that and supply a copy of the letter with your dispute. A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Cathy – I am not aware of a director that lists student loan forgiveness opportunities in every community. I believe you’ll have to do some digging for that. And I don’t understand the second part of your question. Can you try restating it?

    • cathy

      The original loan was from a technical school and due to interest has gone way up taking his entire IRS refund at the end of each year. He has no information on this loan. How does one get information on something that was 15 years ago and is there a forgiveness program for technical schools.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        OK one more question. Is it a federal or private student loan. Tell him to get into the National Student Loan Data System to see what he can find out about the loan.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Have you looked into Income Contingent Payments? We wrote about that here: Help! I Owe $45K for My Kids’ College & I Only Make $28K a Year

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Start at the National Student Loan Data System. You should find information there about your options for your loans. Let us know what happens!

    • Lindag

      Thank you so much for the information.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Please contact an attorney with experience in student loan issues asap. You can find one via The Student Loan Lawyer website.

  • Tanisha Bradford

    Where do I apply?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      There are links in the stories to the various programs. You’ll have to go directly to the program you believe you qualify for. Otherwise you can go to to learn how to apply for income-based repayment.

  • p

    The income based payment program is a finger in the leaking dike stop gap measure because when your loan IS forgiven After 25 yrs of payments, you Must pay Income Tax on the forgiven amount, which will be 3 times your balance of today. Say you have 100k in debt. Your balance Increases each yr because you are not even paying the interest due. In 25 yrs, the debt will increase to over 300k, and you will owe TAX on 300k , all in one yr. ! That will be at least 100k itself.

  • Annie

    I have been paying on my student loan going on 9 yrs. because the interest rate is so high. I feel like I haven’t touched it. I have asked them to reduce the interest but they won’t! Its ridiculous that there are people out there that care more about money than helping their fellow human being.

  • Elaine McDevitt

    Don’t believe the hype on the Americorp Service “Award.” Know that you are heavily taxed once you use the “award” that you gain for doing your service for poverty wages.

  • gmillioni

    i am 32 and will be graduating in May 2015 with a doctorate in physical therapy. my student loan/s over the last 10 years (involving deferments and unsubsidized interest) are now at about $180,000. i read about some loan forgiveness programs for serving in rural and impoverished areas but none of them mentioned physical therapists, only doctors, dentists, phys. assists., etc. is there a loan reduction program inclusive of physical therapists?

    • Credit Experts

      Gmilloni —
      Unfortunately we do not catalog all student loan forgiveness programs. One site that does collect details on various programs is Student Loan Hero.

      Good luck in finding forgiveness or repayment programs that will work for you.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    What do you mean when you say you are in payment forgiveness? Which program are you in? Income-based repayment? If so in IBR the balance is forgiven after 10, 20 or 25 years.

    • Richard Famiglietti

      I applied for income based due to low income, they said I do not have to pay for a year. I need to reapply every year. I am on Social Security so my income will never go up. The question is how long will this continue until they write it off or tell me to apply for forgiveness?

      • Cadowyn

        It will take 10 years of paying $0.00 a month.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Richard – Have you asked the servicer? Generally under IBR loan forgiveness occurs after 25 years of payments, unless you qualify for public service loan forgiveness (10 years) but that requires that you work in a qualifying public service job and it sounds like you are not working. If you are disabled you could consider applying for a disability discharge but keep in mind there could be tax consequences if your debt is discharged due to total and permanent disability.

          • Ret, Sgt

            “applying for a disability discharge but keep in mind there could be tax consequences if your debt is discharged due to total and permanent disability.”

            Note: IF it is Due to Total and Permanent Disability filing and after (3) Three year monitoring period you have met the requirements set forth in their agreement , You will Not have Taxes to pay on the forgiven Student Loans (SL) as there is an IRS form to fill out Due to Below Poverty / Total and Permanent Disability that you could Not pay the SL Nor the Taxes that would be assessed with them . I just went through this this Year .

          • Yo_Its_Me

            I owe over $50k and have usually gotten forebearance, although I should have applied for IBR (on my to-do list, I’m super busy because in 1 mo. we will have zero $ to our name).

            QUESTION: my husband applied for disability and will most likely get it (hopefully in a couple months, fingers crossed). Will that make ME eligible for disability discharge even if I’m not the one with the disability???

            I know that sounds like a ridiculous ? but hey, if I die, he acquired my debt, right? And since we’re a household UNIT (and live where there are no jobs)…

            Btw, I do help care for him, but not in an official status, and he is able to do a lot more around the house than he could a couple months ago, yet he’s still disabled.

  • jessica

    I am a sahm and my $10,000 of loans have pretty much been in forbearance the entire time. I graduated in 2010, worked for about a year then had to leave my job due to complications in my pregnancy. I have not worked since 2011. My forbearance just ended should I apply for another deference or try for the income based repayment? I personally have no income however my husband is working. I can’t afford to pay for any of it at the moment.

  • Jonathan Ginsberg

    I am a Social Security disability lawyer and I also represent student loan borrowers so I have seen this issue before.

    One argument that the Turners can use to avoid income tax liability is the insolvency exception. Basically this IRS provision says that a discharge of indebtedness is not taxable if the forgiveness occurred when the taxpayer was insolvent. If this is applicable the Turners would need to fill out IRS form 982.

    On the instructions to Form 982 the IRS describes “insolvent” as follows: “you were insolvent to the extent that your liabilities exceeded the fair market value of your assets immediately before the discharge” and it refers to IRS publication 4681 for more about the insolvency calculation.

    If the insolvency exception does not apply I wonder if the Turners could reduce or eliminate tax liability because their gross income includes SSDI money. SSDI income may or may not be taxable depending on the total household income. This is a situation where the Turners should consult a tax advisor to determine the starting point for the debt forgiveness tax calculation.

    Finally – it looks like there has been some discussion about this issue previously on this site:

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Kamelia –

    I am afraid I don’t really understand what you are asking about paying it all back in one shot. It sounds like you have federal student loans and Navient is the servicer for those loans (collecting payments on behalf of the federal government). Have you visited the website of the National Student Loan Data System to get information about your loans? It should list all your federal student loans and the repayment terms.

    I would suggest you start there. After you have done that if you can be more specific about your questions perhaps we can help provide some direction.

  • Dee

    I want to do Income Based Repayment. Do I have to go through a “broker.” Why do I have pay $1000 for a company to do IBR? My loan is with the Dept of Ed, so I don’t have a bank to call.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      You absolutely don’t have to pay anyone for this. As it’s explained at “To apply for IBR, borrowers can log in at, enter their personal information into the Electronic IBR Application, authorize a transfer of their tax information using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, and review, electronically sign and submit the completed form online.”

      Hope that helps Dee! Let us know.

  • Rhonda Moore

    Where do you apply for these benefits?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      It depends on which one(s) you think you qualify for. There are links in the story. If you don’t qualify for any of those you can check into Income-based Repayment at

      • Rhonda Moore

        The only program I think I would qualify for is the Volunteer one. However I did not find a link for that particular one.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Rhonda – what about IBR? That’s much more accommodating and your payment can be as little as zero depending on your income.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Have you checked into IBR? Your payments may be as low as $0 under that program.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Bethany – we have deleted the company name per our community guidelines. But we encourage you to consider doing this yourself. You can do it for free and it sounds like that’s money you could really use for other purposes. It’s not that hard to apply for Income-based repayment! You’ll find instructions and lots of good info at This is really important for your financial future; I’d encourage you to take the time to take advantage of it.

  • Martin

    RE: Loan Forgiveness for Teachers… Only $17,500 for 5 years?! Really?? That’s less than $4,000 per year! They make it sound like a bargain. But you can just get a job that pays far more than that and pay off your debt sooner.

  • tony

    In 1972 I received a Student loan for $2,700.00. I am now 70 and am a left below knee amputee. I am on social security and am medically permanently disabled. Do I still need to pay the loan ?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Is this a private or federal student loan? If you aren’t sure see if you can find it in the National Student Loan Data System. If it’s a private student loan it may be out of the statute of limitations. They can try to collect but there may not be a whole lot they can do if you don’t pay. Federal student loans don’t have a statute of limitations but you may be able to get a disability discharge. The first step is to find out what kind of loans you have.

      • tony

        Thank you so much Gerri. It is in the NSLD System because I tried to apply for a Pell Grant in 2013 but I was denied because of the unpaid loan from 1972.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Then it sounds like you may need to apply for a disability discharge.

          • tony

            Thank you so much again Gerri.

          • Gerri Detweiler

            Sure. Let us know how it turns out for you.

      • Denise

        Is there not much hope for $100k in private loans then? I heard you can discharge private loan amounts over and above the actual tuition paid???

  • Credit Experts

    We are not lawyers, and in this case, because you have already tried to handle this yourselves and it hasn’t been effective, it sounds like it’s time to consult a consumer law attorney to get this resolved. You can find names at NACBA,
    the National Association of Consumer Advocates website.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Here is information from the website:

    “I am making PSLF-eligible payments on my undergraduate loans. If I take out more loans to go back to school, will those loans also qualify for PSLF?

    … be aware that if you choose to consolidate your old loans with your new loans, you would then have one big “new” loan, causing the PSLF clock to start over and any PSLF-eligible payments you made on your undergraduate loans before consolidating would no longer count toward the 120 required PSLF payments.”

  • Phay

    The only time you can claim student loans in bankruptcy is if they are garnishing wages and you can claim they are causing a fiscal hardship. This is always an option if you are in this position. The problem is bankruptcy itself is an expensive process as well. I can easily cost you thousands of dollars for a bankruptcy lawyer and they do not really do payment plans. Intensely the reason they garnish your pay checks 15% is because that is what the government considers your expendable income. Most student loan providers will try and get you on some sort of payment program before it goes to garnishment because of this fact. Don’t get me wrong even after a bankruptcy you still technically owe them that money they just can’t legally make you pay it anymore. This is a pretty extreme measure though. Really the best bet for most people is IBR (income base repayment). The great thing about this is depending on when you got the loan it will be forgiven after 10, 20, or 25 years. You do have to report your income to them once a year. One complaint that people on here make is that they see their loan grow year after year on this plan. The truth is most providers show this growth. In my opinion this is on purpose so that you will laps in renewing the repayment plan and make payments on it or give up because you don’t think it is doing anything. DON’T LAPS!!!! If you do the time frame starts over. They want this to happen because they have a better chance of getting more money from you. The other thing is the loans cannot be in default in order to qualify.

  • Credit Experts

    JamieLee —
    Much as we’d like to help, it sounds like what you really need is a good lawyer. You could also consider filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

  • Eric J

    For IBR, will this always be based off all wages? I was thinking of getting a part time job to catch up on bills this year, but am afraid that will make next years payments more per month.

  • msgmak

    After reading much of this blog all I can say is you better obtain a degree in a field that has excellent job prospects before you obligate yourself to high dollar student loans. Good Luck.

  • LC

    I have roughly 60,000 in student debt from attending school for my bachelor’s. My husband is military and we are stationed overseas where work is almost non existent. I have loans through SallieMae (now Navient), Wellsfargo, and SallieMae federal financial aid.

    When I tried to combine all of the loans my monthly payment actually ended up being more for the 15 years.

    We are paying roughly $600 a month and I cannot work here. I don’t want to my loans in a deferment because of the interest stacking up.

    What’s my best option at this point?


    this article sounds good on paper, but when applied to reality, it doesn’t hold an ounce of water….kind of like a politician, tell them what they want to hear, even though it doesn’t make any sense.

    most of the common folks that are indebted to Uncle Sam for student loans, can not find a job that pays enough to survive on, let alone live on…and that is without the debt of a student loan.

    Those of us(such as myself) who are disabled, do not have a prayer in Heaven or hell of ever paying back what we owe….
    Yet, our fine & wonderful gov’t.,(cough, hack, cough), is always pushing to take away from us what we do not have, & will make our lives harder than they are already.

  • Latosha Saunders

    I am 39 yrs old with three kids and one on the way. After all these years I recently had my student loan go into Default. I was on a payment arrangement to get out of default in 2013 , i became unemployed beginning of 2014. I m in a pickle and not quite sure on how to get out of it?!

    • Credit Experts

      Check into income-based repayment.

  • Juliet

    Hello, I have a Federal Student Loan of $24,000 and then 2 private student loans: one of $24,000 and the other $13,000. Currently, I make $23,000 a year and have never missed a payment on my student loans because they are my first priority. However, my federal student loan is starting to become a problem. I’m on the plan where the payment increases every 2 years with the loan pay off being two years. Next year my ONE federal loan payment will go up to $345 then in two years $450 and the last year $550. I can’t afford to pay that much on one student loan when I have 2 more that are consistent. I have been thinking about the Income Based Program but I’m scared of the negative effects. Will applying for this program effect my credit? I’m nervous about the taxes I will have to pay if it does get forgiven in 25 years if my situation does not improve. Plus, when I talk to my Federal Student Loan Company they always seem negative about the plan and advise me to make that my last resort, stating that I will NEVER be able to pay off the loan if I switch to the Income Based Program. What is you advise?

  • WEC Pawn

    This is indentured servitude. I feel sorry for anyone that has such debt at a young age.. We as a country will pay for this misguided program and comfy relationship between our government and colleges.

  • Sam V

    I have been on $0 payment for 2 years now on IBR. If I continue at $0 for years, does this count towards the years of eventually getting my debt forgiven? Does that mean that if one cannot ever afford to pay, all these loans will eventually be all forgive even if the person never paid a dime? Does this apply Department of Education Loans and Federal Loans? I pay an arm and a leg right now to my private loans and there’s no flexibility with them.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      If you continue to qualify for a $0 payment on your federal loans and continue in the program you may have them all forgiven. If you work in public service you must make 120 qualifying payments. If not, balances are forgiven after 20 or 25 years, depending on which program you are in. You’ll find more details at

  • rtw

    My loans go back to 1996. I can only make one or two payments per year of $264. How can I pay down these loans?

    • Credit Experts

      It’s hard to know. You could investigate income-based repayment, possibly, if these are federal loans.

  • broke and frustrated

    What if you were on disability when you went to college. How do get debt forgiveness with a family of three and only making 24 000 a year.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Do you have federal student loans? If so have you applied for a disability discharge? If you don’t qualify for one you can look into Income Based Repayment (IBR).

  • Julie

    I’m 58 yrs old, started with $43,000 student loan debt. I deferred for probably 12 years as a single parent… my loan debt grew to $58,000– I started repaying with monthly payments of $451… but because interest accrues daily even in repayment, even with a steady on-time payment the balance keeps growing– it’s Very Discouraging,,, and may I say Disgusting….. I am a teacher, and I work in a district that is 75% or more free & reduced — but my loans were taken out before a certain year and I cannot qualify the the current loan forgiveness program the President put into place(which would be $17,000 I believe). My balance is now at $65,000 and I don’t know how to get this off my back!!! I’m starting to feel desperate….. and am considering selling my house to get out of this debt.!!! I am working full time, but I’m not getting any younger, and I need a new car but with the monthly payment for student loans, I’m worried about a car payment also. Any suggestions would be welcomed!

  • Tsprout7

    I graduated from a “Top 100 Best-Value” school in the country with “only” 55.000$ in debt (a lot less than most people I know.) In 2005. In the past ten years, I have held 3 different jobs related to my field of study. All three were either part time, seasonal AND/OR 1$ over minimum wage. BUT, all 3 STILL REQUIRED A COLLEGE DEGREE! The reality is, I am 32 years old, I have 2 kids, a husband who also has student loans, 1 junker car, and living in a 500$/month rental, pay-check to pay-check, because THIS is all we can afford. We both had no choice to default on our loans and now are making the minimum payments. Bottom line: The cost of higher education in America is OUT OF CONTROL. What needs to happen is an overhaul of the cost/vaule of college or this will keep getting worse and worse, as evidenced below. Especially if they keep doing things like garnishing wages (which are so low, they are literally taking food out of my children’s mouths when they do that,) suspending drivers licenses, AND even suspending professional licenses (from truck drivers to doctors to cosmetologists.) It is not that we don’t WANT to pay them back as fast as possible, BUT, the economy is awful, and right now, my husband and I are choosing to pay back our loans rather than save for our kids college, go on vacation, buy a house, etc. Thanks, American education system!

  • Gerri Detweiler

    This article talks about how to discharge private student loans in bankruptcy.

    • Denise Mayo

      Thank you! Do you happen to know if they can garnish wages when you are working in another country for a foreign company (England)?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        It seems that would be difficult and more trouble and expense than it is worth. But I can’t say for certain it is not possible.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Jolene – There aren’t a lot of great options for private student loans unfortunately. Since your credit is poor, it sounds like you are going to have a hard time consolidating them. You can certainly try to see if your private loan lender will work out a more affordable repayment plan, but it’s hit or miss. You could also just default and then try to settle the loan, but that can be risky as the amount can increase and you could be sued.

  • Dave

    I went through a direct loan rehabilitation in 2012 after several months of late payments. I was led to believe that these would be removed from my credit report once completing the program. Now, when looking at my credit reports (I’m looking to qualify for a home loan), after my rehabilitation program, new accounts were opened which read as paid in full, but the old accounts still show all the late payments. Does this seem right or should they have been removed?

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  • Meet Our Expert

    lucy_lazarony GravatarLucy Lazarony is a freelance personal finance writer. Her articles have been featured on Bankrate, MoneyRates, MSN Money, and The National Endowment for Financial Education. Prior to freelancing, she worked as a staff writer for Bankrate for seven years. She earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Florida and spent a summer as an international intern at Richmond, The American International University in London. She lives in South Florida.
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