How to Apply for Forgiveness of Old Student Loan Debts

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Many situations could make you eligible for student loan forgiveness and discharge. Student loans fall under three different categories: direct loans, Federal Family Education Loan Program loans and Perkins loans. The Office of the U.S. Department of Education has specific guidelines in place for requesting forgiveness of a student loan. If you think your circumstance falls under the guidelines, you can apply for forgiveness of your existing student loan debt.

Total and Permanent Disability Discharge

Apply for forgiveness of a student loan debt if you become permanently and totally disabled, and a physician will certify that you can't engage in “gainful activity,” according to the Federal Student Aid website. TPD discharges apply to direct loans, FFEL Program loans and Perkins loans. Gather professional certification for your disability and contact Nelnet Total and Permanent Disability to apply for discharge of your loan. Nelnet helps the Department of Education process TPD discharges. Call Nelnet at 888-303-7818 or email at Nelnet representatives will assist you with submitting an application.

Bankruptcy Discharge

In a Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, you can petition the court to discharge your student loan debt. After you introduce the petition to discharge the loan, the bankruptcy court will assess your situation to determine whether you meet criteria that determines hardship. If repayment of your loan will prevent you from maintaining a minimal standard of living for a significant part of the time of the repayment period and if you have a history of good-faith effort in repayment prior to the bankruptcy, the court might discharge your loan. Creditors can challenge your discharge request in a court proceeding.

Teacher/Public Service Loan Forgiveness

With direct loans, you might be eligible for teacher or public service loan forgiveness. With FFEL Program loans, you might be eligible for teacher loan forgiveness. Teacher loan forgiveness requires five consecutive and continuous years of full-time teaching in an elementary or secondary school that meets U.S. Department of Education criteria. After you satisfy requirements for teacher loan forgiveness, fill out a Teacher Loan Forgiveness Application, with your school administration completing one section of the application. Submit the form to your loan holder.

If you enter the public service, you might qualify for forgiveness of a direct loan after you make 120 qualifying payments during full-time employment from October 1, 2007 onward. From this date forward, the initial time borrowers will be able to apply for loan forgiveness will be October 2017.

Perkins Loan Discharge

With a Perkins loan, you might qualify for forgiveness if you are a teacher at a school serving low-income families, a special education teacher or a teacher of math, science, foreign language or bilingual education. You must teach full time for one academic year. Request an application form from the administrative office of the school that manages your loan. Provide supporting documentation to verify that you meet all requirements for cancellation.