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FORGIVENESS AND DISCHARGE

Under certain circumstances, you may be eligible to have all or a portion of your student loans forgiven or discharged. Read on for additional details about the options available.

For more information about student loan forgiveness or discharge, please visit StudentAid.gov/forgiveness. Don’t hesitate to let us know if we can answer any questions.

Loan Forgiveness

You may qualify for student loan forgiveness of some or all of the balance of your loans if you perform certain types of qualifying employment and make a required number of qualifying payments.

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. Find out more about Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).

Important Limited PSLF Waiver

On October 6, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) announced a temporary period during which borrowers may receive credit for payments that previously did not qualify for PSLF or Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF). This change will apply to student loan borrowers with Direct Loans, those who have already consolidated into the Direct Loan Program, and those who consolidate into the Direct Loan Program by October 31, 2022. For more information about the limited PSLF waiver, visit StudentAid.gov/pslfwaiver.

Key Points: Summary of Changes Under the Limited PSLF Waiver
  • For a limited time, you may receive credit for past periods of repayment on loans that would otherwise not qualify for PSLF.
  • For a limited time, you can receive forgiveness even if not employed by a qualifying employer at the time of application and forgiveness.
  • If you have Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL), Perkins, or other federal student loans, you'll need to consolidate them into a Direct Consolidation Loan to qualify for PSLF both in general and under the waiver (and to receive qualifying credit for previous payments made on those loans through the limited PSLF waiver, you’ll need to receive or apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan on or before October 31, 2022). Before consolidating, make sure to check to see if you work for a qualifying employer.
  • Past periods of repayment will now count regardless of repayment plan, whether the payment was made in full or on time, and whether the payment was made prior to consolidation.
  • Forbearance periods of 12 consecutive months or greater, or 36 cumulative months or greater will count under the waiver. In fall 2022, FSA will begin making account adjustments to include these periods. Forbearance periods provided by the COVID-19 student loan relief measures are not counted toward these months since they are already counted toward PSLF eligibility.
  • Months spent in deferment before 2013 will count under the waiver. Additionally, FSA will include Economic Hardship Deferment on or after January 1, 2013. These periods of deferment will also be applied to your account in fall 2022.
  • Periods of default and in-school deferment still do not qualify.

The qualifying employment requirement has not changed.

Learn more about how this limited PSLF waiver may impact your loans. Act soon – the waiver ends October 31, 2022. You can also contact us with questions.

Note: Servicing for the PSLF Program is managed by another federal student loan servicer (MOHELA). If you enroll in PSLF, your eligible loans will be transferred from Nelnet to the PSLF servicer. If your loans have already been transferred to the PSLF servicer, you can log in to their borrower portal to track your PSLF payment counts.

Also note: if you received Teacher Loan Forgiveness, under the limited PSLF waiver, the period of service that led to your eligibility will count toward PSLF (if you certify employment for PSLF for that period). Refer to StudentAid.gov’s Limited PSLF Waiver page and contact us to discuss whether you may be eligible to receive PSLF under the temporary waiver. Act soon — the waiver ends October 31, 2022.

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 to 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.gov/teacher.

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 eligible 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.

Also note: Under normal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program rules, you may not receive a benefit for the same qualifying payments or period of service for Teacher Loan Forgiveness and PSLF. However, under the limited PSLF waiver, the period of service that led to your eligibility for Teacher Loan Forgiveness will count toward PSLF (if you certify employment for PSLF for that period). Refer to StudentAid.gov’s Limited PSLF Waiver page and contact us to discuss whether you may be eligible to receive PSLF under the temporary waiver. Act soon — the waiver ends October 31, 2022.

Loan Discharge

You may qualify for student loan discharge (also sometimes referred to as cancellation) due to circumstances such as school closure, a school's false certification of your eligibility to receive a loan, a school's failure to pay a required loan refund, or in the case of your death, total and permanent disability, or bankruptcy.

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 discharge of your federal student loans through borrower defense to repayment. To apply for federal loan discharge 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.gov/borrower-defense 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.gov/closed-school to review additional closed school discharge criteria. If you feel you are eligible for closed school discharge, download or open/print an application. You can also 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:

  • 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.
  • Letter from a clergyman or funeral director.
  • Confirmation of death from a nationwide consumer reporting agency.
  • An announcement of death from a local newspaper containing enough information to verify that the announcement is referring to the student/borrower.
  • Confirmation from the Social Security Administration’s 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.gov/false-certification.

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.gov/disability-discharge 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.gov/unpaid-refund.

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