Student Loan Forgiveness Myths: Debunked

By: Eliana Sagarin

Having your student loans forgiven might sound like a dream come true, but it's not as simple as it sounds.

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You've earned your diploma and started paying back your student loans – but is it possible your loans could just… disappear? There are several very specific ways to have your student loans forgiven, and none of them can be achieved overnight. Keep reading to find out if you're entitled to student loan forgiveness.

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Public Service Loan Forgiveness

To qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) you need to work full-time in a public service job and make on-time student loan payments to a qualifying repayment plan for a total of 10 years. PSLF only applies to public loans, not private loans.

What jobs qualify for PSLF?

Any job in a government organization at the federal, state local or tribal level

Any tax exempt not-for-profit organization that falls under Section 501(c)(3)

A non-tax-exempt not-for-profit that provides a qualifying public service

Full-time Americorps or Peacecorps volunteers

You are most likely to qualify for PSLF if you have a career in education, law enforcement, health, public law and veterinary medicine.

Additionally, if you have ever been in the U.S. military, be sure to look into your branch's specific loan forgiveness program as military loan forgiveness programs can vary greatly.

Federal Perkins Loan Forgiveness

Perkins Loans work a little differently, because your school is the lender, not the federal government. In order to receive forgiveness on your Perkins Loan, you need to have a full-time in a qualifying career. Qualifying careers include:


Special education teacher

Public defender

Nurse or medical technician

And many more

Contact your school's financial aid department to learn if you qualify for Perkin's Loan forgiveness.

Loan Forgiveness from Income-Based Repayment Plans

On-time payments to your Pay As You Earn or Income Based Repayment plan will lead to loan forgiveness in 20 or 25 years respectively. You can begin a Pay As You Earn repayment plan in the event of financial hardship, which in most cases will charge you the lowest possible monthly amount.  Income-based repayment plans give you a monthly payment amount based on your yearly financial records, which need to be resubmitted annually.

After submitting consecutive payments for 20 or 25 years on these plans, the remaining loan amount is forgiven. Go to to apply for an income-based repayment plan or get an application directly from your loan provider. These repayment plans are only available on Federal Student Loans and do not apply to private student loans.   

Student Loan Discharge

Loan discharge applies to both public and private student loans and is generally awarded by a judge in rare and extreme cases, such as:

Death or permanent disability

If the student is the victim of identity theft

The school's use of an unauthorized signature of the loan

False certification of student eligibility

While we wish you ease in paying back your student loans, we hope that you never have to come face-to-face with any of these circumstances.


Student loan forgiveness can be a complicated process, but it might be worth it for you and your wallet in the end. If you still aren't sure if you qualify to loan forgiveness, or you want to take your first steps towards eliminating your student debt, contact your loan provider to learn more.