Here is some information about the types of student loan forgiveness and qualification criteria. Please go to the Federal Student Aid website for more detailed information. The website has many tools and resources to help with any additional questions you might have.
All three terms mean that you do not need to repay some or all of your loan, however there are differences between them. Forgiveness or cancellation usually mean that you are not required to make payments on your loans due to your job. Discharge usually means you are not required to make payments on your loans due to other situations, such as a permanent disability or closure of the school where you obtained your loans.
There are many types of Forgiveness, Cancellation, and Discharge. Highlighted below are some things to consider with a few of the more common types.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
*If you are ineligible for PSLF because some or all of your payments were not made under a qualifying repayment plan for PSLF, you might still be eligible for forgiveness through Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Learn more here.
Forgives the rest of your Direct Loans after you’ve made 120 monthly payments (10 years) under a qualifying repayment plan and while working full-time for a qualifying employer (see website for more information around definitions for specific qualifications)
You’ll need to prove that you worked full-time during the 10 years of payments by either submitting an annual employer certification form
If you do not submit this annually, at the time of your 120th payment, you will need to have each of your full-time employers complete the employer certification form for the last 10 years of your employment.
Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans and Perkins Loans may become eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness if they are consolidated into the Direct Loan Program
Teacher Loan Forgiveness
School psychologists are not eligible for this loan forgiveness program (sorry!)
Closed School Discharge
If your school closes while you’re enrolled in school or closed within 120 days after you withdrew, you may be eligible for student loan discharge (direct loans, FFEL Program loans, and Perkins loans)
You may not be eligible for discharge if
You withdrew more than 120 days before school closure (there are some exceptions, so call your student loan officer if this is your case)
If you completed all your program courses before the school closure, even if you did not receive your diploma or certificate
If you are working on completing a comparable program through a) a teach-out, b) transferred credits or hour earned at your closed school at a current school, or c) other “comparable means”
Perkins Loan Cancellation and Discharge
Available only for Federal Perkins Loans if you a) work in a school that serves students from low-income families, b) are a special education teacher (which includes school staff that provide “psychological and counseling services”, or c) teacher in a designated subject shortage area
If you are eligible, your Perkins loans will be canceled in the following increments (includes the interest that accrued during the year):
15% canceled per year for 1st and 2nd years of service
20% canceled for 3rd and 4th years of service
30% canceled for the 5th year of service
Other types of forgiveness, cancellation, or discharge. Please see the Federal Student Aid website for more information for these areas.
Total and Permanent Disability Discharge
Discharge Due to Death
Discharge in Bankruptcy
Borrower Defense to Repayment
False Certification Discharge
Unpaid Refund Discharge
Information on Eligibility for Parent Borrowers
How to Apply
Contact your loan servicer if you think you qualify for a forgiveness plan.
Depending on the type of forgiveness you apply for, you may need to continue to make payments while your application is in review. Check with your loan servicer for more details.