Student Loan Debt Relief: Explore Your 9 Best Options

Elizabeth Johnson

Financial Advisor
Updated: 01/2019

Student Loan Debt Relief

In This Article

Ways to Get Student Loan Debt Relief

College loan and student loan debts are the fastest growing type of debt in America. Millions of people have taken out student loans, recognizing that a college degree is the best way to get a better job. However, economic difficulties and the growing cost of college have put many borrowers in a precarious situation. Many people are struggling to pay back their student loans, but can’t seem to get ahead. We’ve put together this guide to help you understand some different options available to those looking for student loan debt relief.

Student Loan Repayment Options

The first, and most common, type of debt relief involves different ways of repaying your loan. Federal rules and regulations stipulate that federally backed student loans must offer different types of repayment options. These options can help reduce the amount you pay each month, and can make it possible to get back on track with your student loan debts.

Standard Repayment

Standard repayment isn’t really a debt relief option. This is the normal system of repayment where you repay your loans according to the original terms of the loans. Many borrowers who are enrolled in a standard repayment option don’t realize there are better options available to them.

Graduated Repayment

A graduated repayment system is the first step towards managing your student loans. A graduated repayment plan means that your payments start off small, but increase every two years. Therefore, you’ll have time to find a job that will allow you to cover your loans before making larger payments.

Income Contingent Repayment

An income contingent repayment plan, or ICR, borrowers make payments according to a set of factors. These factors include income, your family, the balance on the loan, and the interest rate. Payments can be as low as $0.00 for ICR borrowers.

Income-Based Repayment

In an income-based repayment plan your student loan payment is determined by your income and family situation. This differs from an income contingent repayment plan in that the loan balance and interest rate are not factored in to the bill. Students on an IBR are expected to pay 15% of their discretionary income to their lenders. These payments can also be lowered to $0.00

Pay As You Earn

The Pay As You Earn, or PAYE plan normally has lower monthly payments than the other repayment options. It is based on your income, but rather than the 15% you’re expected to pay with the IBR, you’re only required to put 10% of your discretionary income toward your student loans. This repayment plan is the most difficult to qualify for, but it too can reduce your payment to $0.00

Interest Forgiveness

One of the most helpful options for student loan borrowers is the interest forgiveness program. This program is open to those who took out a subsidized direct loan from the federal government. Most student loans fall into this category. Even if your loan is serviced by another company, like Great Lakes, Navient, or American Education Systems, you still might have a direct subsidized student loan.

The interest forgiveness program means that your interest is not capitalized on your student loan for the first three years of repayment. As a result, student borrowers can save thousands of dollars while keeping their loan balances lower than they otherwise would be. This makes interest forgiveness an excellent option for student borrowers, especially recent graduates who are having a hard time finding a job.

End of Term Loan Forgiveness

Another benefit of recent federal laws concerning student loans is that those in an income contingent, income based, or pay as you earn repayment plan can have their loan forgiven when the loan’s initial term ends, even if they still have an outstanding balance. Most student loans have a term from 20-25 years, depending on the amount that was borrowed and what repayment plan you signed up for.

It’s important to note that there are qualifications and limits for this option. Borrowers are not eligible if they have been seriously late or defaulted on any of their student loans. Moreover, the amount that can be forgiven depends on factors like how much you earned and how your earnings changed over the course of the loan’s initial term.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

In an effort to increase involvement in public and community service, various governmental and private interests have established loan forgiveness options. To qualify for these programs you must work in the public sector and be in an IBR, ICR or PAYE repayment plan. The advantage of these programs is that your loan can be forgiven after a much shorter time than the end of term loan forgiveness option. Typically, borrowers can have their loan forgiven after 120 payments, or 10 years. This stands in stark contrast to the 20-25 years that the end of term loan forgiveness plan uses.

Teacher & Disability Forgiveness

These aren’t the only programs that provide options for student loan forgiveness. There are special programs for teachers to have their student loans forgiven. One example of these programs is Teach for America. People who enroll in this program agree to teach for a certain number of years at an at-risk school. In addition to the standard job compensation, the program will waive all or most of your student loan balance once you’ve completed your contract with the school.

Additionally, you can get loan forgiveness if you’ve become disabled since taking out your loan. This process is known as Total and Permanent Disability Discharge. Your disability must prevent you from working in the field of your selected degree. For example, if you had studied to be an author, but lost a hand in an accident, then your student loans might be forgiven.

As you can see, there are lots of ways to deal with student loans. Make sure that you’re operating on a payment plan that helps you, and be sure to ask your student loan servicer what options are available to you. It’s always better to talk to the loan servicer if you get into trouble than to default or miss loan payments. Use these helpful programs to move past your student loans and start building a life.

FAQ

Student loans have become so normal that it is actually surprising when you find out that a new college graduate does not have a debt to pay. There are, however, many ways to make student loan payments a bit easier. Read on below to find out how.

Student Debt Relief Basics

Can we really have ways to make paying our student loans easier? Find out below:

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Is student debt relief real?

Yes. Simply stated, debt relief just describes the various ways a student can get out of his or her loan.

Is the Obama student loan debt relief real?
No. The Obama administration implemented various loan relief programs, but there is no official Obama student loan relief program, which has been used by scammers to dupe students.
Does student debt relief work?
Yes, if you know the options available to you. Strategies such as income-based repayment and pay-as-you-earn programs really help make it easier to repay your student loan.
What is the student debt relief program?
This is used to describe the various ways by which a student can make it easier upon himself to pay off his or her student loan.
What is student loan debt relief tax credit?
It is a form of tax credit program being implemented in Maryland for students who qualify under a particular criteria, such as the amount of loan, payment of tax in the state, and others.
What is a student debt relief group?
These are organizations or companies that offer students a faster repayment of their student loans, which are almost always scams.
How to pay off student debt in 6 months?
This will depend largely on the amount of loan, its maturity, and the financial situation of the student. The larger the loan amount, the longer it will take to pay it off.
How to pay off $250,000 in student loan debt?
There are various debt relief programs such as interest forgiveness, graduated payment, and income contingent payment to make it easier to pay. But the best way is to have a means of income to cover the premiums.
How to settle your student loan debt?
Aside from having sound financial habits, researching about various debt relief options can go a long way towards clearing your student debt.
How to pay off large student loan debt?
The most important aspect is cleaning up your spending habits. Next is knowing what debt relief options are available for your particular financial situation.
How to get student loan debt relief?
First, know your current situation, and the situation of your loan. Next, choose among options such as income-based repayment, public service loan forgiveness, and other debt relief options that would best suit you.
How does student debt relief programs work?
Debt relief programs make payments easier either by lowering monthly payment amounts, lowering or eliminating interest rates, or forgiving loans entirely.
How to pay off student loan debt in 5 years?
Have a plan. Calculate your probable income in 5 years, have a sound spending plan, and avail of the various debt relief options available.
How to improve credit score with student loan debt?
Student loans affect credit scores more in accordance to your payment history, so the best way is to increase your score is to try to always pay on time.

Debt Consolidation

Learn what is debt consolidation and how it can help or make it harder for you to pay your student loans.

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Can you consolidate credit card debt with student loans?
Yes. You can even use student loan to pay off other types of loans, but this is not advisable since this is a sign of a bad spending habit.
How to consolidate student loan debt?
The fastest way is to take out a personal loan and pay off the student loan. However, student loans often have better interest rates than personal loans, and you may lose some of the benefits of student loans.
Does debt consolidation include student loans?
Depends on you if you want to include it. Student loan can be treated as just any other type of loan, save for some options not available in other loan types.
Can debt consolidation help with student loans?
Depends. Consolidating loans allows you have just one payment responsibility and simplify your finances, but you may also incur higher interest rates because of a bigger principal amount after consolidation.
Should I consolidate my student loan debt?
If you want to refinance or extend your loan term, then you can consider consolidation your student debt. But it can also cause you to pay more in the long term.
Does consolidating student loan debt hurt credit?
It might hurt your score in the short term, as it will trigger a hard inquiry in your account. But the lower monthly payments after consolidation will make it easier to improve your score after.
How does student loan debt consolidation work?
Debt consolidation, whether it be student loan or otherwise, combines all your loan accounts into a single one.
What do you need to consolidate your student debt?
Depends on the type of loan you have. For federal loans, you can apply directly to the federal government. For private loans, you need to go through a private lender.
Why consolidate student loan debt?
For several reasons. You might want to simplify your payment scheme and pay just one account, or extend the term of one of your existing loan accounts.
When to consolidate student loan debt?
You will want to consolidate student loans if it’s becoming hard for you to track payment deadlines across accounts, or if you want to lower your monthly payments.
Where to consolidate student loan debt?
Depends. Students with federal loans can go online and apply directly for a federal loan consolidation program. For ones with private loans, they will need to contact their lender.
What happens if you consolidate student loan debt?
Your debt accounts are combined into one, and you’ll have to negotiate the terms of the new debt account. The term will also be extended, but the long-term cost would probably be higher.
Is debt consolidation good for student loans?
Depends on the reason behind the consolidation. If you’re having a hard time with separate loan accounts, then it might make sense.
How to consolidate credit card and student loan debt?
To consolidate both credit card and student loans, then you may need to apply for a personal loan and use the proceeds to pay off each account.

Student Loan Quick Facts

Know the important figures and information about student loans.

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What is the average student loan debt?

According to Forbes, in 2016, the average student has a debt of $37,172, which is a very huge concern for the government.

How much student loan debt is too much?

This really depends on the student. But as a general rule, any amount that you can’t pay on time or without acquiring more debt is too much.

How to get out of student loan debt without paying?
While this isn’t recommended, it is possible. You can work for the government and avail of the public service loan agreement, or you can apply for a disability discharge in the event you become disabled.
How to reduce student loan debt?
Aside from paying diligently, there are a couple of options such as income contingent repayment or graduated repayment that will make it easier to pay, thus reducing your total loan in the long run.
How to get out of student loan debt fast?
Getting out of a student loan faster than originally intended will be dependent on whether you secure a source of income or windfall enough to pay off the remaining balance of your account.
How much student loan debt is there?
In the latest report of Forbes, the total student loan now is already at a staggering $1.5 trillion.
How many college students are in debt?
Figures may vary, but multiple sources place the current number of students who are in debt at around 40 million.
Am i responsible for my spouse's student loan debt?
No, unless you cosigned the loan upon application. Generally, loans incurred before marriage are not the legal responsibility of your spouse after marriage.
What happens to student loan debt when you die?
Depends. When you have a federal student loan and you die, then your debt is automatically forgiven. But for private loans, it will depend on the terms you had with the private lender.
Is student debt worth it?
If you’re convinced that the college degree you are working towards will give you the life that you want, then it is. Otherwise, you should also consider other learning platforms or options.
Do student loans count towards debt income ratio?
Yes. Student loans, unfortunately, are treated the same as other loan types when it comes to computing for the debt income ratio.
Why is student loan debt so high?
This could be attributed to many factors, but one of the major reasons is the constantly rising cost of education. Tuition and other fees become more expensive every year, prompting students to get more and more loans.
How to avoid college student debt?
There are many ways to forego having debts, such as applying for a scholarship or getting a job while you’re still studying. You can also try applying for subsidies to lessen the cost.
How to overcome student loan debt?
It can be overcome by a combination of good spending habits, good source of income, diligence in payment, and the availing of debt relief options.
How to get rid of student loan debt?
You can try to use various debt relief options to make it easier and faster for you to pay off the loan, or you can apply for loan forgiveness by working for the government or serving in the military.
Where can I find my total student loan debt?
You can check the website of the National Student Loan Data Systems for Students which is owned by the US Department of Education, or you can inquire with your private lender.
How does student loan debt affect the economy?
This is a topic for debate, as some believe that having huge student debts hurts the economy because of reduced spending. But others believe the opposite, as it injects revolving cash into the economy.
Will student debt be forgiven?
Depends on your situation. Serving in the military or doing public service can be reasons for student debt forgiveness. Death of the borrower for federal loans does the same.
Are deferred student loans included in debt to income?
Yes. Debt to income ratio considers all types of loans, including student debt, which is treated just like any other loan in this type of computation.
What is the average student loan debt for graduate students?
Graduate students usually have an enormous amount to pay in terms of student debt. In the latest reports, an average college graduate has to pay a total of $57,600 in student debts.
How to invest in student loan debt?
You can invest in Student Loan Asset-Backed Securities or SLABS, to put your money in the student loan marketplace. As to whether it is a good investment decision is up for debate.
How to discharge student loan debt?
Technically, discharging student loans is the same as cancellation or forgiveness, which can be facilitated in various ways such as end of term loan forgiveness, public service loan forgiveness, and others.
How much student loan debt can I afford?
Well that depends entirely on you and your financial situation. Students take out loans because they believe that having a particular college degree is worth it and will enable them to pay off the loan after.
Should I buy a house with student loan debt?
It depends, but generally, no. Buying a house while still paying off student loans will only compound your financial burden. Try to rent first or better yet, find a family member or friend to help you out with accommodations.
Is student loan an unsecured debt?
Yes it is. Like other forms of unsecured debts, the lender does not have anything that they can repossess if they give you a student loan.
Why is student debt bad?
Student debt, or any debt for that matter, becomes bad once we fail to pay on time. Its interest gets compounded, and we further saddled with penalties and fees if we become a delinquent client.
Are student loans marital debt?
No. Student loans is not a shared liability between you and your spouse, unless your spouse also happens to be a co-signee at the time the loan was applied.
Can you inherit student loan debt?
Generally, no. Federal student loans automatically get wiped out in an unfortunate event like the death of the debtor. But for private lenders, it depends on your agreement.
How much student loan debt is reasonable?
Whatever amount that you can pay off regularly and on time.
What is the average student loan debt for a doctor?
The average student debt is already an eye-popping amount, but more so for doctors, who sometimes go to school twice as long. Figures vary but it is somewhere between $180,000 to a staggering $200,000.
Is there a statute of limitations on student loan debt?
Yes and no. For federal-backed student loans, there is no statute of limitations and the state can keep on collecting payment indefinitely. But this does not apply to private student loans, which depends on the lender’s policy.
Does student loan debt expire?
Generally, no. Because federal student loans don’t have a statute of limitations, you are required to continuously pay regardless of time elapsed. But private lenders can and do have expiry dates on student loans.
Who qualifies for student loan debt forgiveness?
You can have your student loan forgiven if you serve in the military, do public service, or it is the end of the initial loan term for those under income contingent or pay as you earn programs.
Is cancellation of student loan debt taxable?
Yes. Under the current laws, if your student loan gets cancelled after 20 or 25 years of repayment in an income-driven repayment plan, then it is considered income and therefore, taxable.
Can you refinance student loan debt?
Yes. A way to refinance your student loan is by consolidating your loan accounts. This way, you can negotiate for a longer term and more favorable payment options.
Can I file bankruptcy on student loan debt?
Yes, but it is quite difficult. You must be able to prove that you and your family have had “undue hardship” that resulted in you not being able to pay off your student loan.
Can I join the military with student loan debt?
Yes. In fact, if there is a possibility that your student loan might be completely forgiven if you join the military, which is an act of serving the state.
Can student debt impact your credibility?
Yes and no. While it affects your credit score, being a diligent payer can actually increase your score, making other loans more accessible for you. But it can also backfire if you habitually miss your payments.
When will my student debt be written off?
Student debt can be written off obviously by paying it off, but it can also be forgiven without full payment in select cases like if you join the military or serve the state in some capacity.
Can student loan debt take your tax refund?
Yes. If your federal student loans remain unpaid, the Department of Education can coordinate with the Department of Treasury to use your tax returns to pay off some of the debt.
What percent of college students graduate with debt?
As per latest reports, it is estimated that 70% of students who graduate college have student loans, which means 7 out of 10 new professionals will have loans to pay for the foreseeable future.

Elizabeth Johnson


Elizabeth is an expert on Debt Consolidation as she provides helpful advice to people who are dealing with debt problems. She graduated college with a BS in Finance. After college, she took a job working at a non-profit debt counseling program. It was at this position where Elizabeth honed her expertise for helping people understand how different financial products work and finding ways to help people pay off their debts.