While the future of President Biden’s student loan debt cancellation plan is in question pending a Supreme Court ruling, federal student loan borrowers have other options for relief regardless of the decision on that plan. Let’s look at four different strategies for reducing and possibly eliminating federal student loan debt that are available with or without the implementation of Biden’s cancellation plan.
1: Public Service Loan Forgiveness
If you work for a government or nonprofit organization, you may be eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). Under this program, you can have the remaining balance of your federal student loans forgiven after making 120 eligible monthly payments. To be eligible, you must make these payments while working full-time for a government or nonprofit organization. PSLF and other student loan forgiveness programs are essential tools in the battle against student debt—and they’re available now, whether or not you’re eligible for Biden’s cancellation plan.
2: Income-Driven Repayment Plans
Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) is a category of federal student loan repayment plans designed to make monthly student loan payments affordable based on your income, family size, and other factors. These plans include Income-based Repayment (IBR), Pay As You Earn (PAYE), Income Contingent Repayment (ICR), and Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE). Depending on your plan, you may have a lower monthly payment and a longer repayment term. After 20 to 25 years on an IDR plan, any remaining balance may be forgiven.
3: Other Forgiveness Programs
There are numerous other student loan forgiveness programs run by individual organizations or states designed to provide relief for borrowers in certain geographic areas or professions. For example, many state governments offer debt relief programs in certain public service fields, such as healthcare, legal, law enforcement, or science and math teachers. There are also additional specific federal programs, such as Teacher Loan Forgiveness, available to some experienced teachers with federal loans. Those who served in the armed forces may be eligible for military programs aimed at loan forgiveness (in addition to PSLF), such as the National Defense Student Loan Discharge Program. It’s essential to research and consult experts to find out how you may be eligible for private and localized student debt forgiveness programs.
4: Consolidate or Refinance Your Loans
Research and compare rates from different lenders to see if refinancing your loans could help lower your payments or consider consolidating multiple loans into one could help simplify the repayment process as well as potentially reduce your interest rate. Though it won’t lead to cancellation, and you will lose your federal loan benefits if refinancing, you may reduce your total interest over the life of the loan could save a significant amount of money, and having a manageable repayment schedule could lessen the stress many feel about their student loan debt.
While the news cycle awaits the latest update on Biden’s student loan cancellation plan, those with federal student loan debt have other options to explore. Whether you can take advantage of student loan forgiveness and repayment programs, refinance your loans, or consolidate them, these options can help borrowers manage their debt. Make sure to research which option is right for you, as each financial situation is unique. Consider speaking with a financial advisor to determine the best way forward and develop an individualized strategy for managing your student debt.