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Student Loan Forgiveness Guide

In 2022 the Biden administration unveiled a federal student loan forgiveness plan in which millions of borrowers would have qualified for up to $20,000 in student debt cancellation. In June 2023, the plan was stricken down by the Supreme Court, which held that the HEROES Act does not authorize the forgiveness plan as presented. Though the Biden administration's plan for blanket forgiveness did not come to fruition, there are still ways of pursuing student loan forgiveness. Here's everything you need to know about the current state of affairs and how you may be able to qualify.

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Do I qualify for forgiveness?

Only federally-owned student loans qualify for forgiveness programs. If you practice a certain profession– particularly in public service, like educators and first responders– you may qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness or Perkins Loan Forgiveness (though the latter is for a loan type discontinued in 2017). 

Being on an income-driven repayment plan for your student loans may qualify you for eventual loan forgiveness. Several repayment plans qualify in this category. After 10, 20 or 25 years in repayment, any remaining balance you have may be eligible for student loan forgiveness through the U.S. Department of Education. 

What happened with Biden's student loan forgiveness plan?

In 2022, President Joe Biden announced a plan to forgive up to $20,000 in student loans for qualifying borrowers. The Supreme Court struck down this plan in summer of 2023, stopping this specific debt relief effort. 

Plans are still underway to relieve student loan debt for students misled by for-profit colleges through the Borrower Defense to Repayment Program, which a 5th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked in August 2023. The court is slated to hear a challenge in November 2023.

What student loan forgiveness means for me 

How will student loan forbearance end affect me?

The student loan payment pause that placed borrowers in forbearance during the COVID-19 pandemic ended in September 2023. Though this sweeping payment pause has ended for most borrowers, you may still qualify for payment forbearance or deferment depending on your circumstances. Now that student loans are back in repayment for most borrowers, you may feel the squeeze of payments being due for the first time since 2020. If so, you may find some relief through an income-driven repayment plan

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What’s next for student loan forgiveness?

The Biden-Harris administration’s plan for broad student loan forgiveness of up to $20,000 per borrower is no longer in motion, but other efforts for student debt relief remain active. This includes repairs to the previously-flawed PSLF and Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) programs.

If you have been on an IDR repayment plan, check with your loan servicer. You may see an adjustment post to your account correcting the number of months you’ve paid toward forgiveness on your remaining loan balance.

As borrowers go back into repayment this fall, they will want to keep an eye on the Biden administration’s commitment to finding other strategies for student debt cancellation. Though student loan cancellation did not work out as a part of the HEROES Act, the president has stated he will pursue efforts for forgiveness through the Higher Education Act next.  

Learn more

When it comes to paying down your debt, being empowered and knowing all of the resources you have at hand is the key to financial health. Federal student loan borrowers have a host of forgiveness programs and alternative repayment options at their disposal. 

Keep up with the current student loan trends and stay up-to-date with the latest information so you know what to prepare for in the coming weeks with forgiveness in limbo.