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Forgiveness, Cancellation, and Discharge

You may have additional options for your student loans under certain circumstances. See the options available below, and don’t hesitate to let us know if we can answer any questions.

For more information about forgiveness, cancellation, or discharge of student loans please visit StudentAid.ED.gov.

Bankruptcy Discharge

If you find yourself in a situation where you are considering bankruptcy, there are a few things you should be aware of when it comes to your student loans.

  • This may not eliminate your student loan debt, as student loans are rarely discharged in bankruptcy.
  • Once you’ve filed for or begin bankruptcy proceedings, your creditors are notified, including your student loan servicer, and an automatic stay begins.
  • The automatic stay prohibits creditors from continuing with collection efforts during your bankruptcy case.
  • If your student loans are not discharged in your bankruptcy case, the student loan servicer will resume collection efforts once the case is over.
  • Even if you are in a pending bankruptcy, interest will continue to accrue, so the total amount you owe may be higher. Please consult with a bankruptcy attorney to discuss your options.

Remember, if you find yourself in a situation where you are considering filing bankruptcy, or if you are simply having trouble paying, we have many repayment plans to fit your budget and ways to postpone payments.

Borrower Defense to Repayment

If you attended a school that you feel misled you or engaged in other misconduct in violation of the law, you may be eligible for forgiveness of your federal student loans through borrower defense to repayment. To apply for federal loan forgiveness based on borrower defense, complete an online application on the U.S. Department of Education website or complete a fillable PDF application form.

Along with your application, we recommend including supporting documentation, such as:

  • Documentation to confirm the school for which you are applying for borrower defense, your program of study, and your dates of enrollment (e.g., transcripts, enrollment agreements, and registration documents)
  • Promotional materials from the school
  • Emails with school officials
  • Your school's manual or course catalog

Visit StudentAid.ED.gov for more information about borrower defense to repayment.

Closed School Discharge

If your school closed while you were enrolled or soon after you withdrew, you may be eligible for discharge of your federal student loan.

Upon notice that a school has closed, Nelnet identifies borrowers attending or who previously attended the school and sends a letter notifying them of the school closure along with a Closed School Discharge application.

Visit StudentAid.ED.gov to review additional closed school discharge criteria. If you feel you are eligible for closed school discharge, contact us for an application.

Death Discharge

In the event that a borrower or a student who is the dependent on a PLUS loan passes, the loan can be discharged without any further payments made on the loans. This can be done based on the receipt of an original or certified copy or photocopy of the borrower/student’s death certificate. If these are unavailable, alternative documentation may be used on a case-by-case basis.

Acceptable alternative documentation must include at least two of the following:

  1. Verification from an official of a county clerk’s office stating that the student/borrower is deceased, and that a death certificate could not be readily provided.
  2. Letter from a clergyman or funeral director.
  3. Death File Match: the SSA website for the death master file.
  4. Confirmation of death from a credit bureau.
  5. An announcement of death from a local newspaper containing enough information to verify that the announcement is referring to the student/borrower.
  6. Confirmation from the Social Security death registry.

Any payments made on the loan after the confirmed date of death are returned to the estate prior to the payment or write-off being applied.

If no proof of death is obtained, the loan resumes servicing at the same delinquency level it was at when notified.

False Certification Discharge

If your school falsely certified your eligibility to receive a loan, you might be eligible for a discharge of your Direct Loans or Federal Family Education Loans. There are three categories of false certification: ability to benefit, disqualifying status, and unauthorized signature or unauthorized payment. To learn more about the eligibility requirements and complete an application, visit StudentAid.ED.gov.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

If you work in public service, you may qualify for forgiveness of your remaining federal student loan balance after making 120 qualifying payments while employed full time by certain public service employers. Learn more.

You've Got Options If You Were Denied PSLF

If your application for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) was denied, you may be able to receive loan forgiveness under the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF) opportunity.

As part of this opportunity, the Department of Education reconsiders your eligibility using an expanded list of qualifying repayment plans.

This TEPSLF opportunity is temporary, has limited funding, and will be provided on a first come, first served basis. Once all of the funds are used, the TEPSLF opportunity will end.

Visit StudentAid.ED.gov for detailed information on how to be reconsidered for loan forgiveness.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness

This program forgives up to $17,500 of student loan principal and interest for those who teach full time for five consecutive, complete academic years. This applies certain schools or educational service agencies that serve primarily low-income families.

Search for your school in the Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellation Benefits. You can also get the full list of eligibility requirements for this forgiveness program at StudentAid.ED.gov.

After you have completed the five-year teaching requirement, you can apply with your student loan servicer using the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Application.

*Note: If your teaching service was affected by Hurricane Maria or Hurricane Irma, you may be eligilbe for a waiver of the regulatory requirements in 34 C.F.R. §682.216 (2018) and §685.217 (2018), which call for consecutive, complete academic years of service for Teacher Loan Forgiveness applicants. If you are a Teacher Loan Forgiveness applicant and meet the following criteria during the period of September 2017 through September 2018, you will be allowed up to a one year gap in service.

  • Resided and/or worked in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands and were unable to teach due to the officially-declared natural disaster Hurricane Maria.

And/Or

  • Resided and/or worked in the U.S. Virgin Islands and were unable to teach due to the officially-declared natural disaster Hurricane Irma.

Total and Permanent Disability Discharge

If you are unable to work because of a total and permanent disability, you may be eligible for a Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) Discharge of your Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL), Perkins Loans, Direct Loans, or Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant service obligation.

For more information on how to apply for total and permanent disability or to check the status of your application you can sign up and create an account on DisabilityDischarge.com or call 888.303.7818 for assistance.

You can also visit StudentAid.ED.gov for more information on the Total and Permanent Disability process.

Unpaid Refund Discharge

You might be eligible for discharge of your federal student loans if you withdrew from school and the school didn’t make a required return of loan funds to the loan servicer. The school may have been required under federal regulations to return some or all of your Direct Loans or Federal Family Education Loans. To learn more about eligibility for unpaid refund discharge and complete an application, visit StudentAid.ED.gov.

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