Understand loan cancellation, forgiveness, and discharge

Understand loan cancellation, forgiveness, and discharge

Under certain circumstances, your student loan, or a portion of your loan, may be cancelled, forgiven, or discharged (in other words, you won't have to repay it). If, based on the chart below and its linked definitions, you think you are eligible for loan cancellation, contact your loan holder/servicer.

  • Be sure to contact all of your loan holders/servicers, and don't stop making payments until you receive written notification that your loan is cancelled from each one.
  • If only a portion of your loan is cancelled, update your records with your new balance after verifying the information with your loan holder/servicer.
Cancellation Condition Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized (Federal Stafford) Direct PLUS (Federal PLUS for Graduate Students) Direct PLUS (Federal PLUS for Parents) Perkins Loans Direct Consolidation (Federal Consolidation)*
Bankruptcy (in rare cases) X X X X X
Closed School Cancellation X X X X X
Death Cancellation X X X X X
Disability Cancellation X X X X X
Education Component of Head Start Program Staff Member Cancellation       X  
False Certification by School Cancellation X X X   X
False Certification due to Identify Theft Cancellation X X X   X
Fire Fighter Cancellation       X  
Law Enforcement or Corrections Officer Cancellation       X  
Librarian Cancellation       X  
Military Service Cancellation       X  
Nurse or Medical Technician Cancellation       X  
Professional Provider of Early Intervention Services for the Disabled Cancellation       X  
Public or community defender cancellation       X  
Public or Non-Profit Child or Family Services Agency Employee Cancellation       X  
Public Service Employees Loan Forgiveness X** X** X**   X**
Speech-Language Pathologist Cancellation       X  
Spouses and Parents of September 11, 2001 Victims and Public Servants Cancellation X X X X X
Teacher Loan Forgiveness X     X X
Tribal College or University Faculty Cancellation       X  
Unpaid Refund Cancellation X X X   X
VISTA or Peace Corps Volunteer Cancellation       X  
* Only a portion of a Direct Consolidation Loan (Federal Consolidation Loan) may be eligible for cancellation, forgiveness, or discharge
** Available for Direct Loans only (not loans from the former Federal Family Education Loan Program)

This chart only contains cancellation programs that loan holders, guarantors, and the U.S. Department of Education administer. It does not contain any Private loans utilized for educational purposes.

Other federal programs

Faculty Loan Repayment Program: Health professions faculty from disadvantaged backgrounds can receive as much as $40,000 towards repayment of their student loans, plus funds to offset the tax burden, in exchange for educating tomorrow's clinicians at an accredited health professions college or university for two years.

National Health Services Corps - Loan Repayment Program: Medical professionals, including physicians, nurses, and dentists, agree to provide health care services for a minimum of two to four years in areas of the country with the greatest shortage of medical professionals. In return, the National Health Services Corps offers scholarships and/or loan repayment programs.

NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program: NURSE Corps awards scholarships and loan repayment to nurses, nursing students, and nurse faculty. If you apply and are accepted to the NURSE Corps, we will provide you loan repayment or a scholarship in exchange for a minimum commitment of two years of service at a facility experiencing a critical shortage of nurses.

Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP): A loan repayment program which that pays up to $25,000 each year towards qualified educational loans of eligible veterinarians who agree to serve in a National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) designated veterinarian shortage situation for at least three years.

Additional programs

Tuition assistance and loan repayment programs: Research employers, states, and private organizations that may offer loan cancellation or repayment programs. Check with your state department of higher education for more information and ask your employer about tuition assistance and loan repayment programs.