September 28, 2022

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3 Types of Student-Loan Forgiveness That Borrowers Often Overlook

  • There are many types of student-loan forgiveness other than Biden’s recent forgiveness plan.
  • Student loan expert Sonia Lewis says there are three kinds of forgiveness that are often overlooked.
  • Some states, like Maine and Kansas, offer student-loan forgiveness to incentivize people to move there.

Student-loan borrowers across the country are waiting patiently until October to file their student-loan forgiveness applications to receive up to $20,000 in debt relief.

However, Sonia Lewis, founder of Student Loan Doctor LLC, says there are several other ways to get your loans forgiven right now. Over the last nine years, Lewis has helped over 20,000 people navigate the federal student-loan system, including Public Service Loan Forgiveness, through classes and one-on-one coaching.

She tells Insider, “I wish I could sit down with everyone in their living rooms and just get them to apply” for forgiveness. According to Lewis, there are three forms of student-loan forgiveness that are commonly overlooked.

1. Total and permanent disability discharge

If a permanent disability is preventing your ability to work, you may be eligible to have your federal student loans completely forgiven.

Lewis explains, “I had a young lady that I was working with, she experiences a tumor that regrows every three to six years in her brain. When this tumor regrows, she can’t work three to six months at a time. That means inconsistent work, so that could qualify her to get rid of her whole debt.”

To qualify for total and permanent disability discharge, you’ll need to provide a physician’s letter stating that you are not able to work consistently because of your disability. “You shouldn’t be worried about a student loan payment on top of your health,” adds Lewis.

2. Profession-specific programs

Nurses, doctors, public defenders, and teachers might be eligible for student-loan forgiveness programs in their state. Here are profession-specific forgiveness programs in the areas with the highest average student loan debt, according to the Education Data Initiative:

3. State-specific programs

Lewis recommends conducting a simple Google search with, “[your state] + student loan forgiveness” to find all available options in your state.

She says, “Certain states are doing incentives, like, ‘Hey, move here! We’ll give you $20,000 to move here,’ because they need a workforce.”

Here are a few examples of state programs that give residents money toward their loans:

  1. Michigan State Loan Repayment Program for medical, dental, and mental healthcare providers
  2. Kansas Student Loan Repayment Assistance in Rural Opportunity Zones
  3. Maryland SmartBuy 3.0 Program gives homebuyers up to 15% of a home purchase price to pay off their outstanding student loan debt
  4. Opportunity Maine Tax Credit gives Maine residents tax credits to offset the cost of student loans.

And don’t forget: The Department of Education offers a number of forgiveness options for federal student-loan borrowers, including PSLF and income-driven repayment.