What is Student Loan Forgiveness?
Student loan forgiveness is exactly what it sounds like.
It is exactly what it sounds like. It is a loan repayment assistance program that forgives the remaining balance of an individual’s student loan after a period of time.
This means that if you get loan forgiveness or loan discharge, you will be no longer responsible to make payments on your loans. That often happens due to a professional service you do for a few years.
The terms forgiveness, cancellation, and discharge mean nearly the same thing, but they’re used in different ways. When the “forgiveness” is due to your career path, this is generally called forgiveness or cancellation.
If your loans are discharged due to other harsh circumstances, such as a disability or the closure of the school where you received your loans, this is generally called discharge.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness
As far as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program is concerned, the requirements are the same for all states.
Employees are required to work for about two years in a geographical area with a high demand for employees in a certain field. Also, they must make consecutive 120 monthly payments on a direct loan, while working for a qualified employer, before they qualify for these student loans repayment programs.
These debt relief programs serve as an incentive for young talent to work full-time in public services areas that are in high-ned of qualified professional assistance. The professionals needed are usually in health care, teaching, dentistry, legal, and more.
Besides the Public Service Loan Forgiveness, there are many other student loan repayment programs offered by the states to help pay down your student loan debt.
The Massachusetts Student Loan Forgiveness Program, for instance, awards up to $50,000 to health professionals working in shortage areas. This state program is an alternative for primary care providers that are not eligible for the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), which is a program from the U.S. Department of Education.
The Illinois Nurse Educator Program, for example, awards up to $5,000 per year for four years to qualifying nurses and nurse educators in Illinois.
Some universities in Virginia, in contrast, will cover up to 100% of student debt for graduates who make less than $55,000 per year. And this program also encourages its students to work in public service.
Field-Specific Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)
Some careers require more effort and investment than others. Doctors, nurses, teachers, law professionals, for example, need to invest a lot of money on their education to become successful professionals.
For this reason, there are a few programs that were designed specifically to offer assistance to professionals in these fields.
Let’s explore a few:
Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program
The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program is aimed at teachers who have been working full-time for at least five years in certain types of schools or educational agencies. It comes with some relatively strict eligibility requirements, but it can be the right option for teachers in certain situations.
There are a few different qualification requirements in order to be eligible for the teacher loan forgiveness program, including:
- Experience – You’ll need to have worked for five full-time and consecutive academic years as a highly qualified teacher.
- Highly Qualified Teacher – The phrase ‘highly qualified teacher’ refers to a teacher who has obtained at least a bachelor’s degree and received full state certification as a teacher. There are also specific requirements depending on what kind of school you do the teaching service at. An elementary school teacher and are new to the profession, for example, will need to demonstrate sufficient knowledge and skills in areas like reading and writing by passing a state test.
- Workplace – You’ll need to have been employed at either a low-income school or educational service agency serving low-income students.
- Additional Requirements – You’ll also need to have taken out the loans in question before the end of your five years of service, and you can’t be in default on the loan.
Nurse Loan Forgiveness Program
The main aspect you need to know about the loan repayment assistance program for nurses is that this form of forgiveness isn’t just offered out based on eligibility requirements. You actually need to do some work in exchange for the reward similar to many financial aid programs.
But the good news is that you can get up to 85% of your loans forgiven. In order to get this amount forgiven, you’ll need to work 2+ years in a Critical Shortage Facility or work as nurse faculty in one of the eligible nursing schools.
So, before even applying for this option, you’ll need to think about whether or not you’re prepared to do the work.
The application requirements for the Nurse Corps LRP are as follows:
- Citizenship – You must be a US citizen, a US national, or lawful permanent resident.
- Education – You’ll need to have a bachelor’s or associate degree in nursing, or a diploma or graduate degree in nursing.
- Work – You’ll need to hold a full-time RN position at a public or private CSF, working a minimum of 32 hours each week. The only other option is to work as a full-time nurse faculty member at a public or private school.
- Status – You might be either a licensed RN, a nurse faculty member, or an advanced practice registered nurse.
- Additional Information – You’ll also need to have outstanding student loans and you’ll need to have a full and unrestricted license to practice as a nurse in the state you plan to work in.
Other Financial Assistance and Financial Aid Alternatives
If you don’t qualify for any program offered by your state, there are many Federal programs for you to consider. Remember, it’s always a good idea to look into Federal Student Loan Forgiveness programs first. You can contact your loan servicer to see the options available based on your loan terms.
The Perkins loan teacher loan forgiveness, for example, is for educators who work full-time in a low-income public school or who teach qualifying subjects, such as special education, math, science or a foreign language.
Keep in mind that refinancing federal loans causes the borrower to lose access to income-based repayment plans as well as the PSLF program. Many of these federal loans forgive the remaining loan balance after 20 to 25 of consistent payments.
The PAYE program, for example, caps your monthly payment at 10% of your discretionary income. After student loan borrowers make payments for 20 years. Then, any remaining balance becomes eligible for state forgiveness programs.
Learn more about those here:
Student Loan Forgiveness Programs – There are a lot of different Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Programs that you may qualify for.
Keep in mind that 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.
If you don’t qualify for any loan forgiveness program from your state or from the federal government, another great option for conquering your debt is education loan refinancing. This option gives you the possibility to re-arrange your monthly payments and set new repayment terms. These payments can often be distributed between five and 20 years.
Another advantage is that you could qualify for a lower interest rate than you have now, consequently, save money on your loans. And if you refinance multiple loans, you can combine them into one to simplify repayment.
But keep in mind that refinancing federal loans turns them private. In other words, by refinancing federal loans, you lose access to federal forgiveness programs and repayment plans.