Student loan forgiveness | Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (2024)

Learn more about:

  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
  • Income-driven repayment forgiveness (IDR) and one-time adjustment

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

PSLF allows qualifying federal student loans to be forgiven after 120 qualifying payments (10 years), while working for a qualifying public service employer.

If you work or have worked in public service such as government (federal, U.S. Military, state, local, or tribal) or certain non-profit organizations, you might be eligible for the PSLF Program.

Visit the Department of Education’s website for the latest PSLF guidance.

How to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Getting PSLF will require careful attention to detail. Here are some tips to achieve forgiveness as painlessly as possible.

Make sure you qualify

Use the PSLF Help Tool to figure out your next steps. This tool is provided by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and is free to use. Submit the forms suggested by the PSLF Help Tool to document your qualifying employment and receive credit for your monthly payments.

Make sure you have the right type of loans

Only federal Direct Loans can be forgiven through PSLF. If you have other federal student loans such as Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) or Perkins Loans you may be able to qualify for PSLF by consolidating into a new federal Direct Consolidation Loan. To learn more about consolidation visit the Department of Education’s website .

Keep proof of your payments

Save your digital receipts or monthly statements—for every payment!

Check your payment tally

The PSLF Help Tool tracks your progress to 120 qualifying payments. Check it regularly to make sure it matches your records. You do not have to make the 120 qualifying payments consecutively.

Keep in mind: Some borrowers have reported that their servicers’ payment tallies do not match their personal records. Contact the servicer to try to resolve this issue. Submit a complaint with the CFPB or Federal Student Aid (FSA) if you run into this problem.

Understand the CARES Act Payment Pause

Paused payments count toward PSLF as long as you meet all other qualifications. You will get credit as though you made monthly payments. Visit ED for more information on the payment pause and PSLF .

Request credit for deferments and forbearances

Deferments prior to 2013 and extended periods of forbearance will be automatically counted as qualifying payments. To request credit for shorter forbearances—less than 12 months in a row, or under 36 months altogether—file a complaint with the FSA Ombudsman .

Note: New changes to IDR plans can affect your PSLF loan payment count. Visit Department of Education website to learn more .

Set a yearly reminder to do your paperwork

You will need to recertify your income-driven repayment plan each year. We also recommend that you recertify your employer each year —the PSLF Help Tool will guide you to the form you’ll need to complete and submit.

You can appeal if you’re denied

ED offers an online form to request your PSLF/TEPSLF denial be reconsidered . To prepare to fill out the form, gather information about the payments you believe should be counted. This includes the dates of these payments; tax information for your public service employer at that time; and digital proof of your employment and payments, such as W2 forms and letters or statements from the loan servicer.

Stay out of default

If your federal loans go into default, you will need to rehabilitate or consolidate them to get back on track to qualify for PSLF. Compare which option may be best for you .

Stay on track for loan forgiveness

Public service employees can use these guides to make sure they are on track for loan forgiveness.

  • Servicemembers
  • Peace Corps volunteers
  • AmeriCorps volunteers
  • First responders
    • Includes firefighters, police officers, nurses, and other emergency service employees.
  • Teachers
  • Other public service employees
    • Includes employees of any state, local, or tribal government, and of certain nonprofit agencies.

Income-driven repayment forgiveness

Most federal student loans are eligible for at least one income-driven repayment plan . Income-driven repayment (IDR) plans cap your monthly payments based on your income and family size. If your income is low enough, your payment could be as low as $0 per month.

Depending on the IDR plan, the remaining balance on your loans may be forgiven after 20 or 25 years of repayment.

One-time adjustment to fix IDR loan forgiveness

On April 19, 2022, Department of Education (ED) announced several changes and updates that will bring borrowers closer to forgiveness under IDR plans. ED will do a one-time adjustment to count any month spent in repayment, some deferment periods (prior to 2013), and some forbearance periods toward loan forgiveness. For some borrowers, these changes mean that they will receive additional years of credit toward loan forgiveness. If you have loans that have been in repayment for more than 20 or 25 years, those loans may immediately qualify for forgiveness.

Borrowers who have reached 20 or 25 years (240 or 300 months) worth of eligible payments for IDR forgiveness will see their loans forgiven as they reach these milestones. ED will continue to discharge loans as borrowers reach the required number of months for forgiveness. All other borrowers will see their loan accounts updated in 2024.

TIP: No student loan borrower will have to pay any fees to receive their credit toward forgiveness. If someone asks you to pay them to get you loan forgiveness, it’s a scam.

What counts towards the 20 or 25 years required for IDR forgiveness?

  • Any months with time in repayment status (regardless of the payments made, loan type, or repayment plan).
  • 12+ months of consecutive forbearance or 36+ months of cumulative forbearance.
  • Months spent in economic hardship or military deferments after 2013.
  • Months in deferment prior to 2013 (except in-school deferment).
  • Any time in repayment prior to consolidation on consolidated loans.

What loans qualify for the IDR one-time adjustment?

Only federal student loans managed by Department of Education (ED) qualify for the one-time IDR adjustment. Borrowers with Direct Loans or federally-managed FFELP loans will not have to take any action in order to benefit under the one-time account adjustment. Any borrower with ED-held loans that have accumulated time in repayment of at least 20 or 25 years will see automatic forgiveness, even if the loans are not currently on an IDR plan.

Borrowers with FFELP loans held by commercial lenders or Perkins loans not held by ED can benefit if they consolidate into Direct Loans. Borrowers must consolidate by the end of April 30, 2024, in order to benefit from the one-time IDR account adjustment. Borrowers can apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan online or with a paper form .

TIP: Not sure what type of loan you have? Log into using your FSA ID and select “My Aid” under your name. That page will display information about your federal loan amounts, including whether your loans are Direct or commercial FFELP. For more information, contact your student loan servicer.

Learn more information about the IDR fixes on the Department of Education’s website .

How to enroll in an income-driven repayment plan

If you have a federal student loan, you may be able to enroll in an IDR plan online. The Department of Education’s (ED) online IDR plan enrollment website will tell you what types of loans you have. It is the best place to start if you need to enroll in income-driven repayment plan.

Repayment periods for IDR plans

IDR plans have different repayment periods.

Student loan forgiveness | Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (2024)


How will I know if my student loan will be forgiven? ›

Borrowers who have reached 20 or 25 years (240 or 300 months) worth of eligible payments for IDR forgiveness will see their loans forgiven as they reach these milestones. ED will continue to discharge loans as borrowers reach the required number of months for forgiveness.

Who qualifies for $10,000 student loan forgiveness? ›

Borrowers are eligible for this relief if their individual income is less than $125,000 or $250,000 for households. Get details about one-time student loan debt relief.

How to know if student loan forgiveness is legit? ›

Here are some signs to help you identify a scam by a student loan debt relief company:
  1. They require you to pay up-front or monthly fees for help. ...
  2. They promise immediate and total loan forgiveness or cancellation. ...
  3. They ask for your FSA ID username and password.

How can I get my entire student loan forgiven? ›

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

The PSLF Program forgives the remaining balance on your Direct Loan after you've made the equivalent of 120 qualifying monthly payments while working full time for a qualifying employer.

What will happen to my credit when my student loans are forgiven? ›

How will student loan forgiveness affect your credit scores? If you're able to secure loan forgiveness, you might see your credit scores drop slightly. That's because student loans, like any other loan, contribute to your credit mix, or the different types of debt that you hold.

What student loans are not eligible for forgiveness? ›

You're not eligible for federal student loan forgiveness programs if you have private loans, but there are other strategies for managing private loan debt.

Who qualifies for the new student loan forgiveness? ›

All borrowers on SAVE receive forgiveness after 20 or 25 years, depending on whether they have loans for graduate school. The benefit is based upon the original principal balance of all Federal loans borrowed as a student to attend school, not what a borrower currently owes or the amount of an individual loan.

Why is my student loan balance zero? ›

Zero balance – the Education Department may have forgiven the student loan debt, but what's more likely is that the loans were moved to a different servicer. Disappeared – the loans defaulted several years ago and fell off the report.

Do student loans affect credit scores? ›

Having a student loan will affect your credit score. Your student loan amount and payment history are a part of your credit report. Your credit reports—which impact your credit score—will contain information about your student loans, including: Amount that you owe on your loans.

How does student loan forgiveness hurt you? ›

Your credit score could dip slightly

When your student loan is at “paid off” status, either through making a last payment or through debt cancellation, you could see a minor ding to your credit score.

Who should not complete fafsa? ›

Who should not fill out the FAFSA? If there is no chance of you using any loans and your family has so much money that they can easily pay the full cost of your education, you may not want to spend time filling out the FAFSA.

At what age do student loans get written off? ›

If you have federal student loans and are making payments under an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan, you may be able to have your loans forgiven after 20 years.

What happens if you don't pay off student loans in 25 years? ›

What happens if you don't pay off student loans in 25 years? Any remaining balance on your student loans will be forgiven after 25 years of payments. But be cautious: You may be required to pay income tax on the forgiven amount.

Which student loans are automatically forgiven? ›

Borrowers with undergraduate debt would qualify for forgiveness if they entered repayment 20 years ago or more, and borrowers with graduate school debt would qualify for forgiveness if they entered repayment 25 years ago or more. Cancel student debt for borrowers previously enrolled in low-financial-value programs.

Is Nelnet part of student loan forgiveness? ›

Nelnet handles a variety of federal loans, and the eligibility for loan forgiveness programs such as President Biden's student debt relief plan, income-based repayment plan forgiveness, and the Income-Driven Repayment Waiver depends on the type of loan. Ahead, learn how to get your Nelnet student loans forgiven.

Is student loan forgiveness taxable? ›

According to the IRS, student loan amounts forgiven under PSLF are not considered income for tax purposes. Learn more about the PSLF process. You won't be taxed by the federal government, but your state may tax you. Any debt forgiven as a result of PSLF won't create a federal tax liability for you.

Can student loans be forgiven if you consolidate? ›

Federal student loan consolidation

If you consolidate non-Direct Loans into a Direct Loan consolidation, you gain access to protections and benefits available on Direct Loans, such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), which can eliminate the balance of your Direct Loans after 120 qualifying payments (10 years).

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