Common Misconceptions About Student Loan Forgiveness

Student loan debt in the United States now totals $1.5 trillion, with the average post-graduation debt reaching $29,800. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, almost 11 percent of all student loans are at least 90 days past due. The Federal Reserve further pegs the monthly repayment for most graduates at $200 to $299 a month.

Some members of Congress have proposed programs to forgive all student debt, but issues of equity — does this penalize those who have paid off their loans or never went into default? — have stymied bipartisan agreement, in addition to the sheer dollar figure.

If you find yourself facing a student debt that makes it difficult to pay for rent and the other necessities of life, what are the chances of a loan modification or outright discharge? Despite common misconceptions about student loan options, there are indeed assistance programs depending on the type of loan you’ve taken. 

If you’re in Savannah or Hinesville, Georgia, contact debt relief Attorney John E. Pytte of Pytte Law. I have helped countless others like you explore their options in obtaining the fresh start they need.

Special Circumstance Student Loan
Forgiveness and Discharge Programs

It is commonly thought that everyone qualifies for student loan forgiveness. Unfortunately, qualification depends on the type of loan you have. Federal student loans offer loan forgiveness and other benefits that private student loans generally do not. For instance, if you teach or work for the government or a non-profit, programs exist to forgive or alter your debt after certain thresholds have been reached, depending on the type of loan you’ve assumed. These loan programs, however, are showing signs of wear and tear and may not always function as advertised.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, available for those who work for a government or non-profit organization and who have Direct Loans from the federal government, will forgive all your debt once you’ve successfully made 120 payments (10 years, in other words).

If you work for five consecutive full-time years in a low-income elementary or secondary school or educational service agency, you can be forgiven $17,500 in debt at the end of the five years. This applies to Direct Loans and the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program.

If you have a Federal Perkins Loan and teach in certain fields in low-income schools, you can even qualify to have all or part of your entire loan discharged.

Those with Direct Loans, FFEL Program Loans, and Perkins Loans can also have their debts canceled if their school closes before they can finish their education, or if they become partially or totally disabled.

Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plans

It is a common misconception that if you don’t qualify for a public service forgiveness program then you don’t have any other options. However, you can pursue programs based on your income and financial circumstances. These are called Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plans, which include:

REPAYE

Revised Pay As You Earn caps your payments at 10 percent of discretionary income and is available for virtually all federal loan borrowers. The remaining obligation is forgiven after 20 or 25 years depending on circumstances.

PAYE

Pay As You Earn is similar to REPAYE but sometimes more generous. Once you demonstrate a partial financial hardship, your payments are capped at 10 percent of discretionary income, and the balance is forgiven after 20 years.

IBR

Income-Based Repayment is available once a partial financial hardship is shown. Your payment is reset at 10 or 15 percent of discretionary income. The loan is forgiven after 25 years if you assumed the loan prior to July 1, 2014, or after 20 years if the loan was taken out after that date.

ICR

An Income-Contingent Repayment plan is available for both student and parent borrowers. Payments are capped at 20 percent of discretionary income, with the loan forgiven after 25 years.

Options for Non-Federal Loan Borrowers

There are no broad-based programs if your loan originated from a non-federal lender. However, you can and should contact the lender to see if they offer any options, including temporarily pausing the payments, modifying your loan, or consolidating your loans if there are more than one.

Another option is to refinance the loan with a lender offering better interest-rate and other terms.

Is Bankruptcy Available to
Discharge Student Loans?

Another common misconception is that bankruptcy does not discharge student loans. While filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy does not automatically discharge a student loan, if you can show that repaying the loan will present an “undue hardship,” the loan may be partially or fully discharged, or the payments and/or interest rate may be modified. To show undue hardship, courts require that you prove:

  • You will not be able to maintain a minimal standard of living if you have to continue repaying the loan
  • The hardship you’re facing will continue through a significant portion of the loan payment period
  • You made good-faith efforts to repay the loan before filing for bankruptcy

Contact Pytte Law for
Student Loan Forgiveness Help

With more than 25 years of bankruptcy and debt relief experience in Savannah and Hinesville, as well as in nearby Georgia communities such as the counties of Chatham, Liberty, and Bryan, I have helped many in your situation. I know all the options and will work with you on a personal basis to find the best solution for your financial well-being. Call me today at Pytte Law for a free consultation. Let’s get started on resolving your student debt burden.


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