Q. How can I qualify for student loan forgiveness?
Dealing with your student debt can seem overwhelming and the possibility of having this debt forgiven sounds too good to be true. However, it doesn’t have to be. Qualifying for loan forgiveness takes time, and it requires you to be very proactive during the application process.
So how do you qualify for a loan forgiveness program? A good starting point is to talk to a certified credit counselor from an NFCC member agency or your loan providers. These specialists can help you explore multiple forgiveness programs and identify the right one for you. It all depends on the type of loans and employment you currently have. For instance, Public Service Loan Forgiveness is a great option for people who work in the public sector or certain qualifying nonprofits. Under this program, after you make 120 on-time payments toward one of the qualifying loans under a qualifying payment plan, you can have the remainder of your outstanding loan forgiven. Other professionals like teachers, nurses, doctors, professionals in the medical field, lawyers, and the military can also benefit from career-specific forgiveness loans. Each program has different requirements, but all of them require you to complete a thorough application process, meet all the requirements and provide the necessary employment verification. Most importantly, to have your debt forgiven, you need to make on-time payments for the length of the loan term.
In addition to these loans, there are other programs that are not just career specific. Instead, they are based on qualifying repayment plans. Some of the plans that qualify for forgiveness are the Income-Based Repayment program, the Pay as you Earn Program, the Revised Pay as You Earn Program, and the Income-Contingent Repayment Program, among others. With these programs, typically you can get your debt forgiven after 20 years of on-time payments, which reduces the original term for about five years.
You can find details about each forgiveness program at StudentLoans.gov. Unfortunately, not everybody qualifies for a forgiveness program. If you are in this situation, you still have options to manage your student loan debt. For instance, you can try to get an Income-Driven Repayment Plan, or if you have private loans, you may be able to refinance or consolidate your loans to reduce your interest. You have options and you have resources, you just have to do your homework. Remember, you can count on a certified student loan counselor from an NFCC member agency to guide and help you explore your best options. They are a phone call away.
Barry Coleman, Vice President of Counseling & Education Programs
Barry Coleman has over 16 years’ experience in the credit counseling industry previously holding several management positions in training, regulatory compliance, and financial counseling. Barry holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Organizational Management from Ashford University and a Master’s of Business Administration Degree from Ohio University. In addition, Barry served over 32 years in the United States Air Force and the Air National Guard, retiring in 2010 as the State Command Chief Master Sergeant of the Virginia Air National Guard.
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