Graduating Student
Personal Finance
6 minute read

Student loans can be a difficult hurdle to overcome. The debt can stretch out for decades making it challenging to meet monthly payments and manage other financial obligations. Fortunately, there are several programs and resources available to help borrowers navigate their student loan debt. Let’s explore some options for getting student loan help, including student loan forgiveness, cancellation, and discharge programs.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program is a federal initiative that allows individuals who work in public service professions such as firefighting, teaching, government, or nursing to apply for tax-free loan forgiveness. To qualify, you must have made at least 10 years’ worth of payments, which equates to 120 qualifying payments. This program provides a significant opportunity for borrowers dedicated to public service.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness

If you have taught full-time for 5 consecutive academic years, you may be eligible for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program. Qualifying teachers are eligible for forgiveness of up to $17,500 on subsidized or unsubsidized federal student loans or subsidized and unsubsidized federal Stafford loans. This program recognizes the valuable contribution teachers make to society and helps alleviate the financial burden they may face.

Closed School Discharge

If you attended a school that closed while you were enrolled or shortly after your withdrawal, you may qualify for a discharge of your federal student loans. To explore your discharge options, visit the Federal Student Aid website and search for information
on the school you attended. The discharge program provides relief to borrowers who were unable to complete their education due to unforeseen circumstances.

Perkins Loan Cancellation and Discharge

The Perkins Loan Cancellation and Discharge program offers student loan cancellation based on employment or volunteer service. The cancellation percentage varies based on the length of time spent in a qualifying role. For example, individuals who work full-time in a public or nonprofit elementary or secondary school serving low-income families can receive up to 100% cancellation. Special education teachers and those in high-need subject areas can also benefit from this program.

Total and Permanent Disability Discharge

Borrowers who qualify as totally or permanently disabled may be eligible for an automatic loan discharge. The Department of Education honors disabilities recognized by the Social Security Administration. If your disability is not recognized, you can apply for a disability discharge through your student loan servicer. This program provides relief for individuals facing significant challenges due to their disability.

Discharge Due to Death

In the unfortunate event of a borrower’s death, their student debt will be discharged upon submission of proof of death. If a parent secured a Parent’s PLUS loan and either the parent or the child passes away, the loan could also be discharged. This program
aims to ease the financial burden on grieving families and provide them with some relief during a difficult time.

Discharge in Bankruptcy

While it’s less common for federal loans to be discharged in bankruptcy, it may still be an option for some individuals with private student loans. Working with a bankruptcy attorney is essential to explore this avenue fully. If you find yourself in this situation, consider seeking free legal help from organizations such as the National Consumer Law Center or the Legal Services Corporation.

Borrower Defense to Repayment

If you have been defrauded by your school or if the institution closes before you complete your degree, you may qualify for a full discharge of your loans under the Borrower Defense to Repayment program. This program not only provides loan discharge but also reimburses payments made on the loan and erases negative credit reporting related to the loan. The program is designed to protect borrowers from predatory practices and ensure they’re not burdened by unscrupulous institutions.

False Certification Discharge

In cases where a school falsely certified student eligibility for Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) or loans from the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan program, borrowers may qualify for a false certification discharge. This program rectifies situations where borrowers were misled or deceived by schools regarding their loan eligibility.

Eligibility for Parent Borrowers

Parent PLUS loans can be discharged if the parent dies, suffers a total and permanent disability, or qualifies for bankruptcy. Additionally, if the student for whom the loan was taken out passes away or if the student couldn’t complete the program due to school closure, eligibility for discharge may be available. The loan may also be discharged if the student’s eligibility was falsely certified by the school or through identity theft.

Navigating Student Loan Assistance Programs

Now that you have a better understanding of the various student loan forgiveness and discharge programs available, let’s explore ways to access these resources. Here are some steps you can take to get the student loan help you need:

  • Contact your loan servicer
    The first step is to reach out to your loan servicer to discuss your options. They can provide guidance on available programs and help you determine your eligibility. If you have a Perkins loan, you’ll need to contact the school that offered the loan. Your loan servicer’s contact information can be found on your latest loan statement or through online portals such as My Federal Student Aid.
  • Seek assistance from nonprofit organizations
    Several nonprofit organizations offer student loan assistance. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling, for example, offers financial reviews, advice on repayment plans, and assistance with related debt planning. The Institute of Student Loan Advisors is another organization that can help with repayment plans, dispute resolution, and forgiveness programs. These organizations can help you find the best solution for your situation.
  • Consult with certified student loan professionals
    Certified student loan professionals are experts in the field of student loans and can provide comprehensive guidance tailored to your specific needs. They can walk you through repayment options and forgiveness opportunities. These professionals can be a valuable resource for borrowers looking to maximize their student loan assistance benefits.
  • Explore additional relief options
    In addition to forgiveness and discharge programs, there are other relief options available to borrowers. You may be able to lower your monthly payments based on your income, with the possibility of forgiveness after 20-25 years of payments. Deferment or forbearance can temporarily pause payments if you’re facing financial hardship. Additionally, pursuing debt cancellation under a program you qualify for can provide further relief. It’s important to explore all available options to find the best solution for your circumstances.


Navigating the world of student loan debt can be challenging, but with the right information and resources, you can find the help you need. From forgiveness and discharge programs to nonprofit organizations and certified professionals, there are various avenues to explore for student loan assistance. Take proactive steps and stay informed, and you can reduce the burden of student loan debt and move toward a more secure financial future.

This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to provide financial, tax or legal advice. You should consult a professional for specific advice. Best Egg is not responsible for the information contained in third-party sites cited or hyperlinked in this article. Best Egg is not responsible for, and does not provide or endorse third party products, services or other third-party content.


Learn more about managing debt

Financial confidence starts here

We have the information and insights you need to take control of your financial health.

Get started