Overall, student loan debt in the United States now stands at over $1.77 trillion. If you’re one of the more than 43 million borrowers who currently owe student loan debt, there may be a way to have all or a portion of it forgiven.
The government offers several student loan forgiveness programs, which can help borrowers eliminate or reduce this financial burden. Keep reading to learn more and find out if you might qualify.
Fortunately, several programs can help students reduce or eliminate their student loan debt over time. Here is a look at the most popular options available.
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program benefits those working for a nonprofit organization or a local, state, federal, or tribal governmental agency, such as teachers and health care professionals. Once you make 120 qualifying monthly payments while working for an eligible employer, you may be eligible for full forgiveness of your remaining balance.
While schools no longer offer new Perkins Loans, those who’ve already received this type of loan may qualify for loan forgiveness. To qualify, you must have worked or volunteered in a public service position, such as a firefighter, military member, or Peace Corps employee, for at least five years.
Depending on your situation, you may be able to get up to 100% of your loan forgiven. In some circumstances, a percentage of your loan may be forgiven for each year of full-time work in a qualifying position. You may also qualify for forgiveness of your Perkins Loan if you experience bankruptcy or disability.
Teachers who work for at least five complete and consecutive years in a qualifying low-income school may qualify for loan forgiveness through the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. The program provides up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness for each person who participates.
Teachers may also qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness or Perkins Loan Cancellation. However, you can’t receive work credit for both programs at the same time.
In addition to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Perkins Loan Cancellation programs, there are several other options available to those working in the health care industry, such as:
- National Health Service Corp Loan Repayment. In exchange for working at an NHSC-approved site, qualified health care professionals can receive up to $50,000 in student loan repayment for two years of full-time work.
- Health Professional Loan Repayment Program. This loan repayment program is specifically designed for members of the U.S. Armed Forces. If you qualify, you can receive loan forgiveness of up to $40,000 per year.
- Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program. Nursing professionals, including licensed registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and nurse faculty, can receive forgiveness of up to 85% of their unpaid educational debt after working for at least two years in a critical shortage facility or qualifying nursing school.
Those who have served or are currently serving in a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces may be eligible for various student loan forgiveness, repayment, and interest rate cap programs. For instance, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act sets a cap on interest rates for student loans while on active duty. Members of the military may also be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
The Military College Loan Repayment Program may repay a portion of eligible student loans. You must have at least three years of active-duty service or six years of National Guard service to qualify. Maximum repayment levels are set by each branch of the service. For instance, the Army and Navy pay up to $65,000, the National Guard pays up to $50,000, and the Coast Guard pays up to $30,000.
Borrowers who experience a military-related disability or are eligible for Social Security disability insurance may be able to receive student loan forgiveness for all or a portion of their debt.
The Borrower Defense to Repayment Program protects borrowers who were misled by the school they attended. The Department of Education makes this determination. If it finds a school or program within the school misled students, it may dismiss all or a portion of the associated student loan debt.
If you believe student loan information listed on your credit report is inaccurate, there are steps you can take to fix the error.
The first step is to regularly review your credit report. An easy way to do this is to sign up for Credit.com’s ExtraCredit subscription. Through this program, you can get 28 FICO® scores plus your credit reports from all three bureaus in one place. This step lets you identify errors on your credit report as quickly as possible so you can take immediate action if needed.
If you detect any incorrect information about your student loans, make sure you take steps to have these details removed. Submit a credit dispute letter to the reporting agency listing the incorrect information. Be sure to provide as much information as possible.
Instead of handling this process yourself, you can also work with a credit repair agency. This type of agency can contact the credit bureaus on your behalf and work to have the incorrect information removed from your report.
If the information on your credit report is correct, the best thing you can do to help your credit is continue making on-time payments. This step is important because your payment history is the factor that can impact your credit the most. Ensuring you make your student loan payments on time can actually help improve your credit.
Depending on your specific situation, the IRS may consider any student loan forgiveness as income. If this is the case, you may need to pay state and federal taxes on it. You’ll receive a 1099-C form that details the amount you must report on your tax returns. It’s recommended to contact a tax attorney for more information about how to report any student loan forgiveness on your tax returns.
If you still owe money on your student loans, it’s important to see if you qualify for any of these student loan forgiveness programs. If not, take steps to create a workable budget to ensure you can continue making on-time monthly payments.
It’s also important to continuously track your credit score to determine how your student loans may be impacting your credit. You can start with Credit.com’s Free Credit Report Card.
You Might Also Like
August 26, 2020
August 4, 2020
July 31, 2020