For those struggling with student loans, it can sometimes seem like a bit of an uphill battle. You need to make your payments on time, but those extra hundreds of dollars could be better utilized elsewhere. However, in today’s student loan industry is there relief? For some lucky borrowers, there is student loan forgiveness. It might seem like a mirage, but student loan forgiveness is real, although it is tough to obtain.

A student loan forgiveness program could eliminate a partial or full amount of your student debt. This can include provisions such as working with a company for a certain amount of time, or making payments consecutively for a number of months. These programs are hard to qualify for, so let’s take a deeper look.

Closed School Discharge

The closed school discharge reasoning applies to Direct loans, Federal Family Education Loans, and Perkins Loans. You will be eligible for 100% discharge if your school closes while you are enrolled, or your school closes within 120 days of withdrawing from the school. If you have already completed the diploma or withdrew more than 120 days before the school closed, then you are not eligible for loan discharge.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program is only available to those with direct loans. The program is aimed at those who work for a government organization at the federal, state, or municipal level, a not-for-profit that is operating under the Section 501(C) (3) code, or other types of non-profits that provide certain public services. You need to be in good standing in terms of the loan and have been working full time in order to qualify for forgiveness.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness

This program applies to Direct Loans and Federal Family Education Loans. To qualify, you need to be holding a loan after 1998, be considered a full-time highly qualified teacher for five complete and consecutive academic years, be employed at an elementary school, secondary school, or education service agency and the loans you are seeking to be forgiven must be made before the end of the five years of qualifying service.

Perkins Loan Cancellation and Discharge

This program only applies to Perkins loans. It revolves around certain jobs after graduation that require public service. If you work in these jobs for some time and qualify accordingly, then you stand to have some or all of your Perkins Loans cancelled. This includes the Peace Corps, teaching, or U.S. Armed Forces just to name a few.

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Total and Permanent Disability Discharge

This program applies to all three types of federal loans. For those that are facing total and permanent disability, your student loan can be wiped out. You will need to fill out the proper paperwork, but this one is pretty straightforward.

Discharge Due to Death

This program applies to all three types of federal loans. If the borrower dies, the federal loan will be wiped out as soon as a death certificate is submitted.

Discharge Due to Bankruptcy 

This program applies to all three types of federal loans. This program is for rare cases and is for those who declare Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy that demonstrates that repayment would impose an undue hardship on yourself or your dependents. This will be determined in bankruptcy court.

False Certification of Student Eligibility Discharge 

This program applies to Direct Loans and Federal Family Education Loans. This program is for those who were misrepresented by their school or another person. This can include your school falsely certifying your eligibility, your school signing your authorization or promissory note without your authorization, you were a victim of identity theft, or you were certified by your school only to be disqualified from employment in the occupation you were being trained for.

Unpaid Refund Discharge

This program applies to Direct Loans and Federal Family Education Loans.  You may be eligible for this program if you withdrew from the school, and the school did not pay a refund to the Department of Education or to the lender that was appropriate.

Borrower Defense Discharge

The borrower defense to repayment rule applies to Direct Loans and Federal Family Education Loans. This program is meant for those individuals who were misled by their school or attended an institution that violated certain state laws. The most infamous of these is the Corinthian Colleges.

As you can see, student loan forgiveness programs are aplenty, but their eligibility requirements restrict their use. If you might qualify, look into it! It might save you thousands of dollars, and that would be a welcome surprise.