5 Ways to Get Your Student Loans Forgiven

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Individuals can eliminate some or all of their student loans through a student loan forgiveness program in certain situations. It can save them from years of loan repayment, and it frees up more income to invest in their futures.

You may qualify for one of five options for student loan forgiveness, depending on your college degree and your current occupation.


On Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022, the Biden administration extended the pause on payments and interest on federal student loans for the eighth time. Borrowers with federal student loans won’t have to make payments, and loans won’t resume accumulating interest, until 60 days after court cases challenging Biden’s student loan forgiveness program are resolved or the Department of Education is allowed to move forward with the program. If the cases aren’t resolved by June 30, 2023, payments will resume two months after that.

Wait 20 or 25 Years, or Maybe Only 10

You can have the balance of your student loan forgiven after 20 or 25 years, depending on when you took out your loan, if you have a federal loan and you're on an income-based repayment (IBR) plan. All federal student loans are eligible except those that are in default, Parent PLUS loans, and Parent PLUS consolidation loans. You can apply for IBR by contacting the lender servicing your loan. However, a proposed new income-driven repayment plan would cut this time in half.


On Aug. 24, 2022, President Joe Biden announced via Twitter the cancellation of $10,000 of federal student loan debt for eligible borrowers, and $20,000 for federal Pell Grant recipients.

Public Service

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF) offers loan forgiveness if you work full-time for a qualifying employer and you make 120 qualifying monthly payments during that time. You must be employed by the federal government or by a state, local, or tribal government to qualify for PSLF. You can also qualify if you work for a not-for-profit organization.


On Aug. 24, 2022, President Joe Biden’s administration proposed a new plan for federal student loan repayment for undergraduate loans. The plan would cap monthly payments at 5% of your monthly income. After 10 years, whatever remaining balance you have would be eliminated if the original loan balance was $12,000 or less.

Volunteering for AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps counts as full-time employment under this program. You must typically use your end-of-service award to make your loan payments for the previous year in order for your experience to count.

Become a Full-Time Teacher

Full-time teachers are eligible for the PSLF program, but they can choose another loan forgiveness program instead.

You may be eligible for PSLF forgiveness of up to $17,500 on your Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans and your Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans under the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. You must teach full-time for five complete and consecutive academic years in a low-income school or educational service agency and meet other qualifications.

You must be a secondary math or science teacher or a special education teacher to receive $17,500. Teachers in other subjects receive a maximum of $5,000.


State and local school districts may also offer loan forgiveness programs.

Join the Military

One of the benefits of joining the military is student loan repayment. The Army, Army National Guard, Air Force, Air Force National Guard, and Navy offer student loan repayment programs up to $65,000, depending on the branch in which you serve, the work you do, and how long you serve.

Unfortunately, the Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Air Force Reserves don't offer student loan forgiveness.

Become a Doctor or Lawyer

Medical and legal professionals can end up with six figures in student loan debt. Fortunately, several student loan forgiveness programs exist to help them reduce their loan burdens:

  • The National Institutes of Health repays up to $50,000 in student loan debt for medical students who complete certain types of medical research on topics such as medical disparities and contraception.
  • Certain health professionals can receive up to $100,000 of student loan forgiveness through the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program in exchange for two to three years of volunteer service at a clinic with a shortage of health professionals.
  • Law school graduates may have some of their student loans forgiven by performing non-profit, public sector, or government work. The Department of Justice, the Legal Services Corporation, and several law schools offer student loan repayment programs. Lawyers may also qualify for the PSLF program, depending on where they work.


Student loan forgiveness is tax-free through the end of 2025 due to a provision in the American Rescue Plan.

Who Pays for Student Loan Forgiveness?

Many people oppose student loan forgiveness because it's funded by taxpayers, and this is essentially true. Taxpayers have paid for your college education if the federal government forgives your student loans.

It's the same as using government grants to fund your education. Private student loan forgiveness is pretty much nonexistent, but the banks' other customers would end up funding them through fees and interest if private lenders were to offer these types of programs.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Department of Education. “Biden-Harris Administration Continues Fight for Student Debt Relief for Millions of Borrowers, Extends Student Loan Repayment Pause."

  2. Department of Education. “Biden-Harris Administration Announces Final Student Loan Pause Extension Through December 31 and Targeted Debt Cancellation To Smooth Transition to Repayment.”

  3. Federal Student Aid. "Income-Driven Repayment Plans."

  4. Twitter. “@POTUS, Aug. 24, 2022 at 11:32 a.m.

  5. Federal Student Aid. "Public Service Loan Forgiveness."

  6. Federal Student Aid. "Teacher Loan Forgiveness."

  7. U.S. Army. "Benefits."

  8. National Institutes of Health. "Eligibility and Programs."

  9. National Health Service Corps. "NHSC Loan Repayment Program: One Application, Three Programs."

  10. U.S. Department of Justice. "Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program."

  11. Congress.gov. "H.R. 1319," Pages 182-183.

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