Do you ever wish that your student loan debt would magically disappear?
As students, paying for our education can be difficult. Most likely, we are forced to take out loans which means debt. Bloomberg reports that this is the first year in over a decade in which young Americans have faced such high debt levels. With the start of 2019, many American 18-29 year-olds find themselves swimming in a debt of $1 trillion. Since approximately one million student borrowers default payments every year, it seems likely that nearly half of that money will not be repaid (Yahoo Finance).
What Is Student Loan Forgiveness?
Though this does not erase your school debt, it can forgive it. Your student debt won’t vanish at the snap of your fingers, but it can make your life much easier.
After 10 years or 120 payments, you may qualify for complete student loan forgiveness through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. This is much better than the 20-25 year forgiveness offered. Through PSLF, there is no budget cap on the amount of debt forgiven.
Since this program began in 2007, borrowers have only managed to qualify as recently as October 2017. Since then, approval rates have not been promising. Approximately 0.5% of applicants are awarded with student loan forgiveness. However, even though only 300 borrowers have been allotted public service loan forgiveness, we can expect higher numbers in years to come as borrowers learn the proper program requirements.
Basically, the program is more interested in who you work for. Not necessarily the work you do there. So, you may qualify if you work full-time at a:
- Tax-exempt 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization
- Government organization
- Not-for-profit providing qualifying public services
According to Forbes, there are 5 things to remember when you are applying for a PSLF program:
Saying you “work” in public service is not going to cut it here. The PSLF is a federal program that forgives federal student loans. On top of that, these borrowers must be full-time employees working 30+ hours a week in an eligible federal, local, or state public service position. Or they work at a nonprofit company and make 120 qualifying on-time payments.
Employment Certification Form
You must also fill out the Employment Certification Form and submit this form to the U.S. Department of Education when you switch employers, begin a job in public service, as well as once a year so that everything remains on track. In the most recent quarter, almost 12,000 applicants submitted an incomplete Employer Certification Form which negatively affects their chances of receiving student loan forgiveness.
Income-Driven Federal Government Repayment Plan
To even be considered for the PSLF program, you must be enrolled in an income-driven student loan repayment plan. Only federal student loans are eligible for this public service loan forgiveness. On top of this, borrowers must complete most, if not all, of the 120 necessary payments while enrolled in this plan.
If you’re not sure which income-driven student loan repayment plan will help you maximize that student loan forgiveness, check out this nifty calculator.
Consolidate Federal Student Loans
Only direct student loans qualify; therefore, if you have student loans from elsewhere (or borrowed before 2011), consolidating these federal student loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan may be your best bet! Check out studentloans.gov to learn more.
Refinance Private Student Loans
Now that you have a plan in action for your federal student loans being forgiven, you may need help with your private student loans too. On the bright side, it’s possible to refinance private student loans and lower your interest rate. This student loan refinancing calculator can help!
Ask & Apply
Some jobs in public service work, government, health care, and teaching (among others) may make you eligible to ask for student loan forgiveness. If you’re struggling to pay off debt, then student loan forgiveness might be the answer you’re looking for. Some states are even assisting eligible graduates as they pay off their loans. Check out collegelifetoday for more information on paying off your student loans.
For more information on federal student loan forgiveness programs and state options, click here. In some cases, you can qualify for 100% forgiveness. Now wouldn’t that be nice?