In our guide to reducing student loan debt, we'll give you three major options and finish with a master list of state-by-state forgiveness programs.

Want to reduce student loan debt?

Who doesn’t? And you’re certainly not alone; student debt has become a national crisis.

But don’t stress yourself out about paying it all down right away. Even if you’re in med school and building up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, there’s more than a few ways to reduce student loan debt, and they’re all pretty easy.

In this article, I’ll share with you three options to get rid of that student loan debt once and for all. You’ll also see a list of state-by-state forgiveness programs.

No, not all of these programs or solutions will apply to you—but dig around and see if something does. Who knows, you might find that you’re missing out on a few thousand dollars in free money!

Student loan forgiveness programs

Having your student loans forgiven can be a blessing, but these programs aren’t always easy to qualify for. Here are some options for having your loans forgiven. Note that this is not an exhaustive list, and these programs are subject to change.

Profession-specific programs


  • Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program: For teachers who have been teaching full-time for at least five consecutive years in a school that serves low-income families—you may be eligible for up to $17,500 per year (this varies based on your subject and when you began teaching).

Health care

  • Faculty Loan Repayment Program (FLRP): This is a program available to health care professionals who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and are faculty members at certain colleges and universities. If you meet all the requirements (including a two-year service commitment), you can have up to $40,000 forgiven toward your student loans.
  • Indian Health Services Loan Repayment Program: For health care providers willing to commit two years to an Indian health program site (must provide health care services to Alaska Native and American Indian communities)—you can get up to $20,000 per year for the two-year commitment (total of $40,000) toward loan forgiveness.
  • National Health Service Corps: For licensed health providers in mental and behavioral health, dental, and primary care medical fields who are working in areas of high-need—you can qualify for up to $60,000 with a two-year commitment.
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) Loan Forgiveness: The primary qualifiers for this program are that you’ll need a health professional doctoral degree, perform research supported by a specific type of organization, and your debt has to be greater than 20 percent of the institutional base salary. There are quite a few other requirements, mostly having to do with where and how you work, but you can get up to $35,000 per year in student loan forgiveness.
  • NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program: For registered and advanced-practice nurses who are working at either a critical shortage facility or as a faculty member at an accredited school of nursing—you can receive up to 60 percent of your student loans paid for a two-year commitment and up to 85 percent of your loans paid for a three-year commitment.


  • John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program: This program is for attorneys who are continually licensed to practice law. You have to be employed by a specific type of institution to qualify (see the program details for more information), but you can receive up to $4,000 per year and a lifetime maximum of $60,000 toward your student loan debt.


  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness: If you make 120 payments (ten years) while employed at a nonprofit or public service organization, you may be eligible to have your entire student loan debt wiped away.
  • Perkins Loan cancellation and discharge: Basically, you can have 100 percent of your Perkins Loans (different than Stafford Loans) canceled/waived over five years if you meet certain requirements are in certain fields. At the time of publishing, there were at least 16 professions that qualified. This program is tricky and complex, so make sure you follow the link to read all the details.

Military programs

  • Active Duty Health Professions Loan Repayment Program: If you’re a qualified health professional (determined by the U.S. military) in a skill-shortage area—you may be eligible to have up to $40,000 forgiven on your student loan balance.
  • Military Reserve Health Professionals Loan Repayment Program: As an officer in the Selected Reserve of an armed force, if you also meet the requirements to enroll in a program that will get you the necessary qualifications for specific fields of health care (namely ones that are experiencing shortages) you can be eligible to receive up to $20,000 per year (maximum of $50,000) for student loan forgiveness.
  • National Guard Student Loan Repayment: The National Guard has their own program with specific service and AFQT score requirements—see the website for the current guidelines—but you can receive up to $50,000 toward your student loans if you meet all the requirements.
  • Navy Loan Repayment Program: If you’re active duty Navy and meet several other guidelines, you can get a maximum of $65,000 paid toward your student loan debt through this program.
  • Health Professionals Loan Repayment Program: For health professionals who are also members of the Army Reserve—you can get up to $20,000 per year (and a lifetime maximum of $50,000) toward student loan forgiveness—if you meet all other requirements. One key stipulation is that you need to be in a profession that the Secretary of Defense deems critically needed to meet wartime combat medical skill shortages.

Community service programs

  • Segal AmeriCorps Education Award: If you successfully complete a term of service with AmeriCorps (and sign up before you join them to receive this award), you can get the maximum Pell grant available for the current year, for up to four years.

State programs

All states have at least one program that allows you to have your student loans forgiven, if you meet the requirements of course. Below is a list of student loan forgiveness programs by state. I’ll briefly describe each program, and encourage you to read more about the program for more details and to see if you qualify.


  • Currently there are no programs in Alabama to forgive student loan debt




  • State Teacher Education Program (STEP): If you’re a full-time teacher in an area of the state where there’s a) a shortage of teachers and/or b) a shortage of teachers with your subject matter area (i.e. social sciences) you can a grant of up to $6,000 per year, for up to three years.
  • Teacher Opportunity Program (TOP): This is a grant that’s given to Arkansas teachers and administrators who are a resident of the state and intend to stay a teacher or administrator (you have to declare your intention to do so). As long as you keep a 2.50 GPA, you can get up to $3,000 reimbursed each academic year for college courses.
  • Veterinary Loan Repayment Program: As a resident of Arkansas, if you attend the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine and practice food supply veterinary medicine in Arkansas for up to five consecutive years, you may qualify to have up to your full amount of tuition assistance (what you can’t pay out of pocket) covered.


  • California State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP): Residents who are licensed primary health care professionals can get up to $160,000 in student loan forgiveness when they provide services in designated shortage areas around the state. If you commit to practicing in one of these areas for the minimum two years and meet all other requirements, you’ll get $50,000 per year in forgiveness. The total amount goes up if you commit beyond that—$40,000 per year for three and four-year commitments, and $30,000 per year for five year commitments.
  • Steven M. Thompson Physician Corps Loan Repayment Program: For new physicians who will practice in areas of the state where there is a shortage (called Health Professional Shortage Areas, or HPSAs). You can get up to $105,000 paid toward your student loans as long as you give a minimum three-year commitment to practicing in a HPSA.
  • CDA Foundation Student Loan Repayment Grant: For those who have recently graduated from dental school and other like specialties, you can get up to $105,000 paid toward your student loan balance if you commit to at least three years in an underserved market.


  • Colorado Health Service Corps: For licensed health care professionals who provide care to areas of need (here’s the full criteria) in the state. You can get up to $105,000 with a three-year commitment, and an additional $25,000 (total $130,000) if you’re a dentist and give an additional two-year commitment (total of five years).
  • University of Colorado Law Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP): If you’ve graduated from Colorado Law, you can be considered to get a loan forgiveness grant for up to $6,500 per year (up to five years) when you choose qualifying public interest work and submit an application each year.
  • University of Denver Sturm College of Law Loan Repayment Assistance Program: Similar to the one Colorado Law offers, this grant is for those Sturm College of Law alumni who make less than $75,000 per year (among other qualifiers). According to their website, you can get anywhere from 15 to 75 percent of your monthly loan payments forgiven through the university.


  • Currently there are no programs in Connecticut to forgive student loan debt


  • Delaware State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP): For primary care, dental, and mental health care professionals in identified Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs)You can receive up to $100,000 with a signed commitment to serve.



  • Physicians for Rural Areas Assistance Program: For physicians who agree to practice full-time (40 hours per week) in rural areas of the state (less than 35,000 people living in the city) for a generous payoff— you can get up to $25,000 per year, up to a maximum of $100,000 forgiven on your student loans.


  • Hawaii State Loan Repayment Program (HSLRP): For primary health care providers who wish to practice in Health Professional Shortage Areas of the state. The amount you can receive will vary, but according to the state, “physicians (allopathic/osteopathic); nurse practitioners; certified nurse-midwives; physician’s assistants, Health Service Psychologists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Licensed Professional Counselors, and Marriage and Family Therapists are all eligible to receive State Loan Repayment support.”


  • Idaho State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP): For health care providers willing to practice in an HPSA, you can get up to $25,000 per year forgiven on your student loans. The one caveat is that you must be employed by a nonprofit or public entity in an HPSA to qualify.


  • Illinois Nurse Educator Loan Repayment Program: If you’ve worked as a nurse educator, instructing practical or professional nurses in an approved Illinois institution for, at minimum, the past year, you may qualify for up to $5,000 per year for four years (total of $16,000) in forgiveness on your student loans.
  • Illinois Teachers and Child Care Providers Loan Repayment Program: This is for teachers who’ve already received loan forgiveness through the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. If you work for five years teaching in a designated low-income elementary or secondary school, or if you work for two years in a child care facility that serves a low-income area in Illinois, you can receive up to $5,000 toward your Stafford Loans.
  • Illinois Veterans’ Home Nurse Loan Repayment Program: If you’re a nurse who’s both residing and practicing in an Illinois’ veterans’ home, you might be eligible for up to $5,000 in forgiveness toward your student loans.


  • Justice Richard M. Givan Loan Repayment Assistance Program: This program is for graduates of law school who want to work in civil legal aid. The program was put in place to help people be able to take jobs in law with salaries that may not be sufficient to cover their student loan debt—the amount of loan forgiveness you can get will vary.


  • Iowa Teacher Loan Forgiveness: This is for teachers who began teaching after July 1, 2007 only—but if you fit that criteria and are willing to work in a shortage subject area, designated by the Iowa Department of Education, you can get up to 20 percent of your student loan balance forgiven every year. There is a maximum, but it’s determined on a year-by-year basis.
  • Teach Iowa Scholars: For first year teachers willing to teach in shortage areas—you can get up to $4,000 per year for up to five years.
  • Iowa Registered Nurse & Nurse Educator Loan Forgiveness Program: If you’re a registered nurse or nurse educator at a qualifying university, you may be eligible for up to 20 percent of your student loan balance in loan forgiveness.
  • Rural Iowa Primary Loan Repayment Program: For physicians who practice in critical shortage areas of the state–you can get up to $200,000 in student loan forgiveness. One note—you must have attended the Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine or the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.
  • Rural Iowa Advanced RN Practitioner and PA Loan Repayment Program: Very similar to the Rural Iowa Primary Loan Repayment Program, but this program is for registered nurses and physician assistants–while it wasn’t funded for 2017-2018, historically the benefits have been up to $20,000 per year.
  • Iowa Health Professional Recruitment Program (HPRP): If you’re a graduate of Des Moines University’s D.P.M., D.O., P.A., or D.P.T. programs, you might be eligible to receive up to $100,000 in student loan forgiveness with a four-year commitment for practicing in a rural community of Iowa.


  • Kansas State Loan Repayment Program: This one is for eligible health care providers who commit to providing health care services at an eligible site (located in a federally designated health professional service area) for at least two years. You must work at a nonprofit or public agency to qualify. Physicians and dentists can get up to $30,000 annually for two years, while other healthcare providers can get up to $25,000 a year for two years.
  • Kansas Bridging Plan: For those physicians going through a residency program in either family practice, pediatrics, or internal medicine—you can commit to practicing medicine for three years in a rural community of the state and get up to $26,000 in loan forgiveness for doing so.
  • Kansas Rural Opportunity Zones Student Loan Repayment Program: If you’re a new Kansas resident (after July 1, 2011) falling in one of the 77 Rural Opportunity Zones, hold an associate’s, bachelor’s or postgraduate degree, and you have an outstanding student loan balance, you are eligible to receive up to $15,000 in student loan forgiveness.


  • Kentucky Large/Food Animal Veterinary Incentive Program: For anyone in the veterinary field (veterinarians, veterinary technologists, and veterinary technicians) working mostly with large/food animal medicine (50 percent of their time or more) you can up to $6,000 per year, up to three years ($18,000 total) in loan forgiveness.
  • Kentucky State Loan Repayment Program : For healthcare professionals serving in an HPSA—you can get a 50/50 match on your student loan payment, up to $17,500 per year, with a two-year commitment.


  • Louisiana State Loan Repayment Program : For health care providers who commit to practicing in inner city and/or rural areas of the state—you can get up to $30,000 per year for up to three years in loan forgiveness benefits.


  • Educators for Maine: If you’re a full-time teacher, you can get up to two- years’ worth of student loan payments reimbursed for every year of full-time teaching you do in the state, depending on your field and where you are teaching.
  • Alfond Leaders Student Debt Reduction Program: Gives student loan forgiveness (up to $60,000) to people who work at a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) designated job and for a Maine-based employer.
  • Doctors for Maine’s Future Program: This program gives out scholarships for eligible medical students who enroll in a qualifying Maine-based medical school program—you can get up to 50 percent of the cost of attendance (or $25,000 annually, whichever is less) forgiven toward your student loan debt.
  • Maine Dental Education Loan Repayment Program: If you’re a dentist practicing in underserved areas of Maine, you can get up to $20,000 annually in loan forgiveness (up to $80,000 total).


  • Janet L. Hoffman Loan Assistance Program: This one is a little complex, so follow along. First, you need to have gone to a college in Maryland, and be a resident of the state. Second, you need to work full-time in either public service, local governments, or a nonprofit company. Third, you must work to serve low-income residents of the state. Teachers, lawyers, and most health care professionals are eligible. The payout system is complex, too—it depends on how much debt you have. The most you can receive is $10,000 per year for three years, but this is only if you have more than $75,000 in total debt. Make sure to check out the website for all the details on this program before applying.


  • Massachusetts Loan Repayment Program: For health care providers working at a public or nonprofit healthcare organization in a designated HPSA, you can get up to $25,000 per year for two years ($50,000) total in loan forgiveness.


  • Michigan State Loan Repayment Program (MSLRP): If you’re a primary medical, dental, or mental health care provider, you can get up to $200,000 forgiven toward your student loan debt, assuming you meet the state’s specific requirements for the program.


  • Minnesota Loan Forgiveness Program: If you’re an eligible health care provider willing to commit to three years of service, you can get $25,000 per year in loan forgiveness, with a maximum of four years ($100,000). The amount and details of the program depend on your profession and desired location.
  • Minnesota Dentist Loan Forgiveness Program: For full-time dentists devoting at least 25 percent of their time to patients who are enrolled in state public programs (or those who receive a sliding fee) for a minimum of three years, you can get up to $25,000 per year for four years (or $100,000) in loan forgiveness.
  • Minnesota Veterinary Loan Repayment: This program is for large-animal veterinarians who agree to a five-year commitment to practice in a rural, underserved area of the state. You’ll need to work for a practice that is involved with the care of food animals at least half the time. For schooling, you either need to get a veterinary degree within three years of applying OR go to the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota. Assuming you meet all requirements, you can get up to $15,000 per year for each of those five years.


  • Mississippi Teacher Loan Repayment Program: To qualify for this program, you’ll need to be a teacher in a public-school district that falls within a critical teacher or subject shortage area, as well as hold a Mississippi Alternate Route Teaching License. If you meet eligibility requirements, you can get up to $3,000 per year for up to four years ($12,000) in student loan forgiveness.


  • Missouri Health Professional State Loan Repayment Program: Qualifying health professionals can receive an educational loan repayment in exchange for practicing in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) of the state. You can receive up to $50,000 in forgiveness.
  • Primary Care Resource Initiative for Missouri: If you’re working toward becoming a primary care physician in internal medicine, pediatrics, OB/GYN, or family medicine, a primary care dentist in general dentistry or pediatrics, or a dental hygienist, you can receive a forgivable loan through this program. The loan is forgiven based on the number of years you commit to serving under the requirements of the program.


  • Montana Quality Educator Loan Assistance Program: For those teachers who work in a public or state-funded school, the Montana Youth Challenge Program, or a special education cooperative (as well as be in an area with critical educator shortages), you can get up to $3,000 per year for up to four years ($12,000) forgiven on your student loans.
  • Montana Rural Physician Incentive Program (MRPIP): If you’re a physician, you can have your educational debts forgiven up to $100,000 if you practice in a rural or medically underserved area of the state, or if you provide services to primarily medically underserved populations.
  • Montana Institutional Nursing Incentive Program: If you’re licensed to practice as a registered nurse and are employed by either a Montana state hospital or the Montana state prison, you’re eligible for student loan forgiveness (the amount varies). Because this program is quite broad, research it completely before applying.


  • Nebraska Student Loan Program: This program “awards forgivable student loans to Nebraska medical, dental, physician assistant, and graduate-level mental health students who agree to practice an approved specialty in a state-designated shortage area.” You can get up to $40,000 in reimbursements.


  • Nevada Health Service Corps (NHSC): Health professionals engaging in full-time clinical practice in a specific assigned community can get loan repayment funds for their commitment (the amount varies).

New Hampshire

New Jersey

  • Primary Care Physician & Dentist Loan Redemption Program: For  physicians, dentists, physician assistants, certified nurse practitioners, and certified nurse midwives, this program will provide up to $120,000 in student loan forgiveness with a commitment of working two to four years in a in medically underserved area of the state.
  • Nursing Faculty Loan Redemption Program: If you commit to being a full-time faculty member at a school of nursing in the State of New Jersey for five years after you complete an applicable graduate degree program, you’ll be eligible for student loan redemption. Two quick notes—the reward amount varies and you have to keep above a 3.0 GPA while in school.

New Mexico

  • Public Service Law Loan Repayment Program: If you’re an attorney willing to provide public service in the nonprofit sector or in state or local government to underserved or low income or residents, you may be eligible to receive up to $7,200 per year in loan forgiveness. One standout requirement is that your salary cannot exceed $55,000 to be eligible
  • New Mexico Health Professional Loan Repayment Program (HPLRP): Health professionals agreeing to make a two-year service commitment to practice full-time in a designated medical shortage area in the state can get up to $25,000 per year in student loan forgiveness.

New York

  • District Attorney and Indigent Legal Services Attorney Loan Forgiveness Program: If you’re not already getting assistance for the John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment program, you’re a legal resident of New York, and you’re an attorney, you may qualify for up to $20,400 annually toward student loan forgiveness, with certain commitments and requirements.
  • New York State Licensed Social Worker Loan Forgiveness Program: Like the one above, only for social workers. You can get up to $6,500 per year, with a maximum of your total qualified loan debt or $26,000—whichever is less—if you meet the rest of the requirements.
  • Nursing Faculty Loan Forgiveness Incentive Program: Again, like the other New York programs, only this is for nurses who are licensed in the state. You’ll also need a master’s in nursing or a doctorate that qualifies you as a nurse faculty, qualified service in the state, and prior experience as a registered nurse. You can get up to $8,000 per year, maximum of $40,000, in student loan forgiveness.

North Carolina

  • NC LEAF Loan Assistance Repayment Program: This program rewards public interest attorneys who have the least ability to repay their law school debt. You have to have “earned a J.D. degree from an ABA-accredited law school within the past ten years and be a licensed member in good standing of the North Carolina State Bar.” The forgiveness amount will vary.
  • Forgivable Education Loans for Service: This program is for “qualified students enrolled in an approved education program and committed to working in critical employment shortage professions in North Carolina.” Those seeking Bachelor’s, Master’s, or other Graduate degrees are eligible to get up to $20,000, while Doctorate degree students can get up to $56,000.

North Dakota

  • North Dakota Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Occupations Student Loan Program: If you’re a college graduate in North Dakota and have a GPA over 2.50, and you’re employed in a STEM occupation for at least a year, you can get up to $1,500 per year, maximum of $6,000, in student loan forgiveness.
  • North Dakota Teacher Shortage Loan Forgiveness Program: For teachers who teach in areas of the state that have a shortage of teachers, you can get up to $1,000 per year ($3,000 max) toward student loan forgiveness.
  • North Dakota’s Veterinarian Loan Repayment Program: If you’re a veterinarian providing food animal vet services to areas of need within the state, you can sign a contract for anywhere from two to four years in exchange for student loan forgiveness. For two-year contracts, you can get up to $15,000 per year. If you go for three or four years, though, you can get up to $25,000 per year. So a full four-year contract could get you up to $100,000 in student loan forgiveness if you meet the requirements.


  • Ohio Dentist Loan Repayment Program: For “dentists that practice in areas of Ohio designated as having a dental professional shortage by the Ohio Dept. of Health,” you can get student loan forgiveness (the amount varies) if you’re practicing or in your final year of dental school.


  • Oklahoma Dental Loan Repayment Program: For dentists who are practicing in what would be considered an underserved metro or rural area of the state, you can get up to $25,000 per year for anywhere from two to five years. A couple of strict guidelines though—30 percent of your patients must be on Medicare, and only five dentists get this reward per year.



Rhode Island

  • Rhode Island Educational Loan Repayment Program for Primary Care Providers: If you’re a physician, a newer physician’s assistant, or nurse practitioner working in pediatrics, internal medicine, or family medicine, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness. Physicians who meet all the requirements are eligible to receive $20,000 per year for up to four years (maximum of $80,000) while nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants can get up to $10,000 per year for up to four years (maximum of $40,000). One caveat—the amount you receive can’t exceed more than half of your total student loan debt.
  • Rhode Island Dental Educational Loan Repayment Program: Dentists or dental hygienists who work in a ‘safety net’ site in Rhode Island may be eligible to get up to $25,000 per year in student loan forgiveness (dental hygienists can get up to $10,000 per year), with a two-year commitment. Again, the amount of forgiveness can’t exceed more than half of your education debt.

South Carolina

South Dakota

  • Delta Dental Loan Repayment Program: This program is “for dentists who agree to serve a selected percentage of Medicaid-insured patients in their practice or a combination of seeing patients in the practice and serving in Delta’s Mobile Dental Program.” You can get up to $100,000 in loan forgiveness.


  • Currently there are no programs in Tennessee to forgive student loan debt


  • Teach for Texas Loan Forgiveness: If you’re a teacher in the state of Texas who is teaching in both a subject shortage area and a low-income area school district, you may be eligible to get up to $2,500 per year (this changes yearly) in student loan forgiveness.


  • Currently there are no programs in Utah to forgive student loan debt



  • Virginia Loan Repayment Program: For those in an approved residency program (or in the final year of one) in allopathic or osteopathic medicine, nurse practitioner training, or physician assistant training, you can receive up to $25,000 per year for up to two years (with a contract) if you meet all other requirements. This program is a little strict with guidelines, specifically around education and your degrees, so be sure to fully research it before applying.


  • Health Professional Loan Repayment Program: If you’re a primary health care professional and you agree to provide primary care health care in rural or underserved urban areas with designated shortages, you can get up to $75,000 credited toward your student loans with a two-year commitment.

West Virginia

  • Currently there are no programs in West Virginia to forgive student loan debt


  • Health Professions Loan Assistance Program (HPLAP): For physicians, psychiatrists, dentists, dental hygienists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and certified nurse midwives — you can get up to $50,000 in education assistance if you commit to working in an HPSA in Wisconsin.


  • Wyoming Healthcare Professional Loan Repayment Program: For healthcare professionals (including dentists) working full time and treating Kid Care, Medicaid, and Medicare eligible patients—you can get up to $30,000 per year for three years ($90,000) if you’re a physician or dentist, and up to $10,000 per year for three years ($30,000) if you fall into any other health care field.

Student loan discharge situations

In some circumstances, such as your school closing or a fraud issue, you can have your loans discharged. This typically means the entire balance you owe will be wiped away clean (and most programs will not have any negative impact on you).

I’ve opted to leave medical situations off of this list—death and total and permanent disability. If you or a loved one experience either of these tragedies, contact the servicer of the loan immediately.

School-related situations

  • Discharge closed school: If your school closed while you were attending (and you weren’t able to complete your degree) or within 90 days of you dropping out (and assuming you didn’t accept any other type of assistance for this reason) you are eligible to have 100 percent of your loan balance discharged.
  • Discharge unpaid refund: If you withdrew from the school and were supposed to get a refund on your student loans, but didn’t, you’re still eligible to receive this benefit—whether the school is still open or not.

Financial situations

  • Bankruptcy: If you’re filing for bankruptcy and you can prove that paying your student loans will cause you undue hardship, you may be able to have your student loans discharged. Please keep in mind that bankruptcy should be the last possible option for most people, however we understand there are different situations for everyone and wanted to share this option.
  • Income-based repayment and income-contingent repayment: If you qualify for income-based or income-contingent repayment plans and make 300 eligible payments, you may qualify to have the remaining balance discharged.
  • Pay-as-you-earn forgiveness—If you qualify for a Pay as You Earn repayment plan (this isn’t common) you are eligible to have the remaining balance discharged after making 20 years of payments.

Fraudulent situations

  • False certification due to identity theft: If you’ve been a victim of identity theft and the person who committed the crime has been convicted, you’re eligible to have any loans taken out in your name (fraudulently of course) discharged completely.
  • False loan certification: False certification is either when the school fraudulently signs loan documents for you or they admit you when you don’t meet the requirements of admission. If student loans were created as part of this (if you don’t know, check your credit report immediately), you’re eligible to have those balances discharged. Keep in mind this is only for federal student loans, not private loans.

Student loan refinance programs

Many borrowers won’t qualify for student loan forgiveness or discharge, which means you’ll be paying the loan on your own. The good news is that you can usually reduce your interest rate and/or your minimum monthly payments by refinancing your student loan debt at a low interest rate.

How refinancing works

When you refinance your student loans, you apply for one big, new loan that will pay off all your existing student loans. That way, you’ll have one monthly payment and one interest rate to keep track of instead of several.

As all refinance loans are private, you’ll need to apply for student loan refinancing just as you would any other private loan. That means you’ll need to show enough income to afford the loan and have either good credit or a creditworthy cosigner.

How much you can save by refinancing

How much you’ll save by refinancing your student loan depends on several factors, including your creditworthiness, your existing student loan interest rates, and how long you take to pay off the refinance loan. That said, most borrowers who refinance will save thousands of dollars—possibly tens of thousands—over the life of their loan.

As long as you have a stable job, it’s usually better to refinance as soon as possible to save the most.

You can use our student loan refinancing calculator to estimate how much you might save, or head over to our partner, Credible, to see what rates you’ll qualify for (without affecting your credit).

Where to refinance your student loans


If you want to explore student loan refinancing, make Credible your first stop. The “Kayak of student loans”, Credible can match you with refinance lenders and show you if you’ll qualify and your actual interest rate and payments in just a few minutes. There’s no obligation unless you choose to apply for the loan.

Credible Credit Disclosure - To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Credible or our partner lender(s) conduct a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, when you apply for credit, your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies will be requested, which is considered a hard credit pull and will affect your credit.

Learn more about Credible in our review or check your rate now.

Plus, Money Under 30 readers who refinance their student loans with Credible can get a $100 bonus!


SoFi is a company that offers student loan refinancing to people with small or large balances.

Nearly the entire process is done online in a few steps, and you’ll have your loans refinanced in no time.

See details/apply or read our full review of SoFi here.


Earnest is another one of our favorite companies that allows you to refinance both federal and private student loans into a single payment at a low rate.

One of the things we love about Earnest is its Precision Pricing—which lets you choose the repayment term that best suits you and your financial situation.

See details/apply or read our full review of Earnest here.


There are more ways to reduce student loan debt than you might think—you just need to know where to look. Although your first step should be to check for any opportunities for student loan forgiveness or discharge, only some borrowers will qualify.

The good news is, almost every borrower will have the opportunity to refinance their student loans at some point, and doing so can save you thousands over the life of your loan.

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About the author

Chris Muller picture
Total Articles: 279
Chris has an MBA with a focus in advanced investments and has been writing about all things personal finance since 2015. He’s also built and run a digital marketing agency, focusing on content marketing, copywriting, and SEO, since 2016. You can connect with Chris on Twitter.