Need some help paying off your student loans? Here are 7 government programs that provide student loan forgiveness.

You will want to make sure that you fit the criteria for each program, and that you weigh both the pros and cons of entering such a program before applying.

For example, the very first program on the list requires 10 years of payments, and each military program requires AT LEAST 3 years of service.

(HINT: Do not join the military for the sole purpose of paying off your loans.)

But if one (or more) of these programs is relevant to you, it can truly be a godsend.

See if you qualify for any of the student loan forgiveness programs below!

7 Student Loan Forgiveness Programs Funded by the Government

Need some help paying off your student loans? Here are 7 government programs that provide student loan forgiveness. See if you qualify, and get out of debt!

1. Public Service Loan Forgiveness

As the name denotes, this is geared toward people working in public service jobs.

And while you’ll be expected to make 120 payments (which will take at least 10 years), the remaining balance goes *poof*.

Eligibility: 

  • Qualifying employer
    • government organization
    • Peace Corps or AmeriCorps
    • not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization
    • private, not-for-profit organization that provides a public service
    • religious organizations DO NOT qualify
  • Qualifying employment status
    • full-time OR at least 30 hours per week for qualifying employer(s)
  • Have eligible loans
    • Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized loans
    • Direct PLUS Loans
    • Direct Consolidation
  • Make 120 qualifying payments
    • after Oct. 1, 2007
    • while employed full-time with qualifying employer(s)
    • under an eligible repayment program
    • on-time
    • each month
    • when the loan is active (not in default)
  • Make payments under eligible repayment program
    • Pay As You Earn (PAYE)
    • Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)
    • Income-Based Repayment Plan (IRB)
    • Income-Contingent Repayment Plan (ICR)
    • 10-Year Standard Repayment Plan

*If your loans are not eligible, you can consolidate them. This will turn your loans into direct consolidation, thereby qualifying them for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Time Invested: 10 years

Amount Forgiven: remaining balance of Direct Loans

To Apply:

  1. Consolidate your loans if you need to make them eligible
  2. Fill out and submit the Employment Certification Form each year
  3. Wait for FedLoan Servicing to tell you if you qualify or not
  4. Send any further documentation requested by FedLoan Servicing

For more info on this program, you can check out FedLoan Servicing’s website.

Need some help paying off your student loans? Here are 7 government programs that provide student loan forgiveness. See if you qualify, and get out of debt!

2. Teacher Loan Forgiveness

Shoutout to all the (probably underpaid and overworked) teachers out there.

While you can receive forgiveness from both the Public Service Loan Forgiveness AND Teacher Loan Forgiveness Programs, you cannot double-dip the number of years that you work.

This means that any years you count toward Teacher Loan Forgiveness cannot be counted toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and vice versa.

Eligibility: 

  • employed as a full-time, highly qualified teacher for 5 consecutive academic years in low-income school/educational service agency
  • at least one of the years had to have been taught after 1997-98
  • have Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized and/or Federal Stafford Loans
  • qualifying loans must’ve been made by the end of these 5 years

*For more in-depth info on what qualifies as a “low-income school” or a “highly qualified teacher,” head over to the Federal Student Aid website.

Time Invested: 5 years

Amount Forgiven: up to $17,500 (for math, science, and special education teachers) OR up to $5,000 (for other subjects) of qualifying loans

To Apply: 

  1. After your 5 years, fill out the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Application
  2. Submit it to your loan servicer
  3. Wait to find out if you’re eligible

Need some help paying off your student loans? Here are 7 government programs that provide student loan forgiveness. See if you qualify, and get out of debt!

3. Perkins Loan Cancellation

While this program isn’t exclusively for teachers, it’s popular among the profession.

Other eligible jobs include firefighters, librarians, etc.

But for the sake of this post, the following info is geared toward teachers.

(For more info on the qualifications and amount forgiven for non-teachers, check out the Perkins Loan Cancellation and Discharge Summary Charts.)

Eligibility:

  • You must teach:
    • in a school that serves low-income families
    • special education, OR
    • math, science, foreign languages, bilingual education, OR
    • any other subject identified as having a shortage of qualified teachers in the state
  • Federal Perkins Loans

Time Invested: 1-5 years

Amount Forgiven: in total, up to 100% of Federal Perkins Loans after 5 years

  • 1st year: 15 percent of Perkins Loans
  • 2nd year: 15 percent
  • 3rd year: 20 percent
  • 4th year: 20 percent
  • 5th year: 30 percent

To Apply: You will want to speak with your loan servicer and/or your school’s financial aid office.

Need some help paying off your student loans? Here are 7 government programs that provide student loan forgiveness. See if you qualify, and get out of debt!

4. Income-Driven Repayment Plan

Income-driven repayment plans lower your monthly payment by extending the time that you’re allowed to pay back your loans.

These programs are geared toward people (like me) whose income is not exactly proportional to the amount of debt they owe.

And once your payment period is up, you can say sayonara to your remaining balance.

(If you want to know more about how I used the Income-Driven Repayment Plan, check out my testimony of How I Paid Off $10,000 of Student Loans in 6 Months.)

Eligibility: 

  • Qualifying Repayment Plan
    • Pay As You Earn (PAYE)
    • Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)
    • Income-Based Repayment Plan (IRB)
    • Income-Contingent Repayment Plan (IRC)
  • Federal student loans

Time Invested:

  • PAYE: 20 years
  • REPAYE: 20 years (if paying back undergrad loans) OR 25 years (if paying back graduate/professional study loans)
  • IRB: 20 years (if you’re a new borrower on/after July 4, 2014) OR 25 years (if you’re NOT a new borrower on/after July 4, 2014)
  • IRC: 25 years

Amount Forgiven: remaining balance on federal student loans

To Apply: I simply called my service provider and applied over the phone. Be prepared to send any necessary documentation.

Need some help paying off your student loans? Here are 7 government programs that provide student loan forgiveness. See if you qualify, and get out of debt!

5. National Guard Student Loan Repayment Program

While each military student loan forgiveness program is rather similar, National Guard requires a longer enlistment time period (6 years as opposed to 3).

Again, I strongly advise against joining the National Guard (or any other military post) solely for student loan forgiveness benefits.

Eligibility:

  • non-prior service soldiers, prior service soldiers, and officer candidates**
  • decline GI Montgomery Bill
  • high school diploma
  • score at least 50 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery
  • federal loans made under the Higher Education Act
    • Stafford Student Loans
    • Perkins Loans
    • Federally Insured Student Loans
    • Supplemental Loans for Students
    • Parents Loans for Undergraduate Students
    • Consolidated Loan Program Loans
  • loans must be active (not in default)

Time Invested: enlist for a minimum 6-year service

Amount Forgiven: up to $50,000 of qualifying federal loans

**Eligibility requirements will depend on your specific title. Check out the National Guard’s repayment website to determine your particular case.

Need some help paying off your student loans? Here are 7 government programs that provide student loan forgiveness. See if you qualify, and get out of debt!

6. Army College Loan Repayment Program

Eligibility:

  • specified Military Occupational Specialties (local Army recruiters have this list)
  • decline Montgomery GI bill
  • have a high school diploma
  • score at least 50 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery
  • federal loans made under the Higher Education Act
    • Stafford Student Loans
    • Perkins Loans
    • Federally Insured Student Loans
    • Supplemental Loans for Students
    • Parents Loans for Undergraduate Students
    • Consolidated Loan Program Loans
  • loans must be active (not in default)

Time Invested: enlist for at least 3 years of service

Amount Forgiven: 

  • up to $65,000 of eligible loans
  • 33.33% of the principal interest OR $1500 after each year of service (whichever is greater) for up to 3 years

(For more info, head over to the Army LRP’s website.)

Need some help paying off your student loans? Here are 7 government programs that provide student loan forgiveness. See if you qualify, and get out of debt!

7. Navy College Repayment Program

Eligibility:

  • active-duty Sailor within first 3 years of service
  • decline GI Montgomery Bill
  • high school diploma
  • score at least 50 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery
  • federal loans made under the Higher Education Act
    • Stafford Student Loans
    • Perkins Loans
    • Federally Insured Student Loans
    • Supplemental Loans for Students
    • Parents Loans for Undergraduate Students
    • Consolidated Loan Program Loans
  • loans must be active (not in default)

Time Invested: enlist for at least 3 years

Amount Forgiven:

  • up to $65,000 of eligible loans
  • 33.33% of the principal interest OR $1500 after each year of service (whichever is greater) for up to 3 years

For even more Military Student Loan Forgiveness Programs, check out Student Loan Hero’s comparison list, which also lists options for those serving as medical personnel, for reserve soldiers, and for veterans.

TAKEAWAY

Anyone paying off student loans needs all the help they can get (speaking from experience).

Check out these student loan forgiveness programs funded by the government to see if you qualify!

  1. Public Service Loan Forgiveness
  2. Teacher Loan Forgiveness
  3. Perkins Loan Cancellation
  4. Income-Driven Repayment Plan
  5. National Guard Student Loan Repayment Plan
  6. Army College Loan Repayment Plan
  7. Navy College Repayment Program


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Need some help paying off your student loans? Here are 7 government programs that provide student loan forgiveness. See if you qualify, and get out of debt!

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