Student Loan Debt Relief and Forgiveness

Hand with money in its palm


There are several programs currently available to assist those that have federal student loans. If you are or have been employed by a U.S. federal, state, local, or tribal government or nonprofit organization, you might be eligible for the Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, or the Temporary Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness Program (TEPSLF). Other federal student loan borrowers may be eligible for up to $20,000 in loan forgiveness. Additionally, those borrowers with federal student loans that attended certain technical institutes, beauty, or art schools may qualify for full loan cancellation under the Borrower Defense program.


PSLF/TEPSLF  |  Student Loan Debt Relief  |  Borrower Defense to Loan Repayment


PSLF/TEPSLF Loan Forgiveness

Temporary Changes to Qualifiers

The PSLF Program forgives the remaining balance on your Direct Loans after you have made 120 qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer.

Previously, many applicants applied for this program, only to discover they were ineligible due to a variety of circumstances. On October 6, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education announced a limited-time change to the program rules as a result of the COVID-19 national emergency. Now through October 31, 2022, many student loan borrowers who previously did not qualify may receive credit and qualify for past periods of repayment.

Previous Qualifiers for PSLF

Previously, to qualify for PSLF, you must:

  • Be employed by a qualifying employer during the time of payment. Qualifying employment for the PSLF Program isn’t about the specific job that you do for your employer. Instead, it’s about who your employer is, the list of which is more extensive than you may realize. Some examples include government entities, nonprofits, schools, military, libraries, and many nonprofit law enforcement, public safety, public health, and childcare employers.
  • Work full-time for that agency or organization (meeting your employer’s definition of full-time, or working at least 30 hours per week, whichever is greater).
  • Have Direct Loans, or consolidate other federal student loans into a Direct Loan.
  • Repay your loans under an income-driven repayment plan.
  • Make 120 qualifying on-time payments (no later than 15 days past the due date), for the full amount due. Payments must be made after October 1, 2007, and periods of deferment, forbearance, or default do not qualify.
  • Be working for a qualifying employer at the time you submit the form for forgiveness and at the time the remaining balance on your loan is forgiven.

Changes to Qualifiers Under TEPSLF

While many of the above qualifiers have not changed, some rules have been temporarily suspended through October 31, 2022.

  • For a limited time, you may receive credit for past periods of repayment on student loan types that would previously not qualify (i.e., Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and Graduate PLUS Loans). If you have FFEL, Perkins, or other federal student loans, you'll first need to consolidate your loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan to qualify (both in general and under the temporary waiver). Parent and spousal loans still do not qualify, and private loans are excluded.
  • Past periods of repayment will now count regardless of whether you made a payment in full or on time.
  • If you surpass 120 qualifying payments due to this limited-time waiver, you do not currently have to work at a qualifying employer to apply or receive forgiveness, provided you apply before October 31, 2022.
  • Borrowers whose loans are forgiven and made more than 120 qualifying payments on an existing Direct Loan will automatically receive a refund for the qualifying payments they made in excess of 120. Borrowers who paid off their student loans prior to the October 6, 2021 announcement do not qualify.

How to Apply

Whether you have made 120 qualifying payments or are working toward it and completing your employer certification, you should submit the application. They’ll use the information you provide to let you know if you are making qualifying PSLF or TEPSLF payments.

Get started by using the PSLF help tool to:

  • Help you understand more about these programs and what you need to do to participate and possibly have your loans forgiven.
  • Explain other actions you should or must take if you want to receive PSLF or TEPSLF.
  • Help you assess whether your employer qualifies for PSLF. Note: several employers that do qualify may initially be listed as “likely not to qualify.” If you think your employer qualifies anyway, make sure to continue the process (i.e., Monroe County Public Library continues to be listed as “likely not to qualify,” but was confirmed as qualifying).
  • Generate the form you need. At this time, the PSLF help tool won’t allow you or your eligible employer(s) to electronically sign the form that the tool will generate for you. Therefore, after you complete the PSLF help tool process, you will need to print the PDF document that the tool generates, sign it yourself, have your employer sign it, and then submit the form to the PSLF servicer as instructed on the printed PDF document (uploading online is easy and available). Should your employer not immediately be listed as a qualifying employer (see the previous bullet), you can get a blank form to complete and submit here
  • Note: If you don’t periodically submit the PSLF form, then at the time you apply for forgiveness, you will be required to submit employment certification for each employer where you worked while making the required 120 qualifying monthly payments.

Contact for PSLF Questions

If you have more questions, you can review the PSLF FAQ page. If your questions aren't covered on that page, contact FedLoan Servicing at 855-265-4038. Please note that call volumes are high.


Student Loan Debt Relief

Final Loan Repayment Pause Extension

Federal student loan payments have been paused a number of times during the pandemic. A final pause is now in effect and will last until December 31, 2022. Payments will resume in January 2023. The payment pause will occur automatically.

Debt Relief for Qualifying Borrowers

Borrowers with individual incomes of less than $125,000 or $250,000 for households may qualify for up to $20,000 in debt relief for their federal student loans. Pell Grant recipients can receive up to $20,000 and other federal student loan borrowers up to $10,000.  Relief is capped by the amount of outstanding debt. So, balances less than $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients or less than $10,000 for other loan recipients will only get relief for the amount still owed.

You need to fill out the Federal Student Debt Relief application to apply. Due to a court order, processing debt relief is temporarily halted, but you are encouraged to fill out the application. Borrowers will not need to reapply. Borrowers are encouraged to apply before November 15 in order to receive relief before the payment pause expires on December 31, 2022.

New income-based repayment rules for current and future borrowers are also part of the proposed plan.

The Federal Student Aid website has more information about the Student Debt Relief Plan.


Borrower Defense to Loan Repayment

In a recent settlement, Sweet v. Cardona, federal student loan borrowers that attended technical, beauty, or art institutes may be eligible for full loan cancellation. Borrowers must submit an application with information about how the institute they attended misled them, but the Department of Education has made clear that borrowers who attended one of the covered institutions may stand a reasonable chance of approval for student loan forgiveness.


Federal student loan borrowers, including those that have Parent Plus loans, who:

  • Attended a school that you believe misled you or engaged in other misconduct, or
  • Can demonstrate that the school violated state law related to your loan or to the educational services provided.

How to Apply

You can get started with this Borrower Defense application guide PDF.

You will need the following information or documents:

  • Verified account username and password (FSA ID)
  • School name(s) and program of study
  • Enrollment dates
  • Documentation to support why you believe you qualify for borrower defense and to demonstrate financial harm to you, if applicable
  • Borrower Defense application–either apply online or fill out and print the PDF and send to the address on the form

Previous Borrower Defense Application

If you submitted a Borrower Defense application between December 2019 and October 2020 and your application was denied, you application has been reinstated. You do not need to submit a new application. You can check on your application by calling the Department of Education's Borrower Defense Hotline at 1-855-279-6207 between 8 AM and 8 PM Eastern Standard Time.

Settlement Determination

Only borrowers who submitted applications before June 22, 2022 would be covered by the automatic student loan cancellation benefits of the settlement, but borrowers who submit a Borrower Defense application between June 22 and the final date of the final approval of the settlement (which is yet to be determined) are entitled to a final decision from the Department of Education within 36 months. If no final decision has been made by that time, the borrower would be entitled to full student loan cancellation, refund, and credit repair. See the full list of schools covered.

Student Loan Repayment Pause

If you have submitted a Borrower Defense application and either have not received a decision, or received notice that your Borrower Defense application was approved but have not yet received your relief, or received a form denial notice in or after December 2019, you should not have to resume payments on your federal student loans when the COVID-19 payment pause ends.



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