How do I get student loan forgiveness? 

1 min readLast updated February 27, 2024by Rachel Carey

Paying back student loans can be a huge worry for new college graduates and their parents. As new plans come into effect, this article will take you through what you need to know about student loan forgiveness.


  • Paying back student loans can be a huge worry for new college graduates and their parents.  

  • Student loan repayments began again in October 2023 after multiple extensions to payment pauses. 

  • The Biden administration is launching new initiatives to cancel student debt using existing legal authority.  

  • There are multiple ways to repay your student loan, so getting good financial advice and developing a financial plan are good places to start.  

What is student loan forgiveness? 

Student loan forgiveness means you are relieved of repaying part or all of the outstanding money on your student loan.  

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If you receive student loan forgiveness, all or part of your debt is essentially canceled.   

This only applies to federal student loans and does not cover any private loans you may have taken out to pay for college.  

What happened to student loan forgiveness? 

It has been a tumultuous few years for those repaying their federal student loans.  

In March 2020, President Trump placed a pause on repaying federal student loans during the pandemic. This was then extended to December 31, 2022, by the Biden administration.   

In 2023, President Biden brought forward a relief plan to the Supreme Court.  

Along with a few stipulations, including who could benefit, the plan would have seen the student loan balance of approximately 14 million people cleared entirely. 

37 million people would see a portion of their debt forgiven, and the country’s outstanding student loan balance reduced by $400 billion from $1.7 trillion to $1.3 trillion, according to data from news outlet CNBC

However, on June 30, 2023, the Supreme Court struck down the debt relief plan.  

Following multiple extensions to the payment pause, student loan repayments began again in October 2023, with interest accruing again from September 1.   

Following the Supreme Court ruling, the Biden administration launched its new initiative to cancel debt using existing legal authority. This means using existing laws and regulations to develop new debt forgiveness legislation.  

The new plan is known as Biden’s Plan B for student loan forgiveness.  

What is the new plan for student loan forgiveness? 

The new SAVE (Saving on a Valuable Education) plan is an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan. It allows borrowers to have affordable payments tied to their income.  

According to a White House statement, the plan “calculates payments based on a borrower’s income and family size – not their loan balance – and forgives remaining balances after a certain number of years.”  

The remaining balance on your loans is forgiven after 20 or 25 years of repayment.  

This timeline associated with loan forgiveness can be shortened to as little as 10 years for borrowers who had small starting balances. 

In January 2024, the Biden administration announced it would fast-track forgiveness for these smaller student loans.  

Those who borrowed $12,000 or less in federal student loans and have been repaying for at least 10 years will have their debts automatically erased starting in February 2024. 

This is under the stipulation that they have enrolled in the Biden administration's new SAVE plan. The repayment plan the borrower was on prior to this does not impact their eligibility.  

The new SAVE plan seeks to fix problems in the current student loan system and make college more affordable.  

“The SAVE plan will cut many borrowers’ monthly payments to zero, will save other borrowers around $1,000 per year, will prevent balances from growing because of unpaid interest, and will get more borrowers closer to forgiveness faster,” the statement also read. 

The Biden administration also announced that it will try to deliver student loan forgiveness to borrowers experiencing financial hardship. 

In a rulemaking session on February 22 and 23, the U.S. Department of Education will negotiate on how to deliver relief to struggling borrowers.  

According to one estimate, as noted by CNBC, the new plan could forgive student debt for up to 10 million people.  

Student loan relief was a pledge Biden made during the 2020 presidential campaign. As the November 5 presidential election looms, more student loan forgiveness updates are likely.  

Who qualifies for student loan forgiveness? 

There are many different ways to qualify for student loan forgiveness. 

As mentioned, those with federal loans made directly by the government for their education are eligible to enroll in the new SAVE plan.  

Here, depending on the amount they originally borrowed, they will have their student loan forgiven in 10, 20 or 25 years. 

Those who originally borrowed $12,000 or less and have been making repayments for 10 years will have their loan forgiven in February 2024.  

 According to Federal Student Aid, you can also qualify for loan forgiveness if: 

How do I apply for student loan forgiveness?  

For those seeking student loan forgiveness, the best place to start is Federal Student Aid.  

Here, you will find all the information and forms you need to submit your student loan forgiveness applications.  

Federal Student Aid recommends completing the form and submitting applications online, as this will result in faster processing and response times.  

Once you are ready to submit your application, you need to ensure you have all your supporting documentation to hand. 

This can include: 

  • Your most recent W-2 form from your employer 

  • Your employer’s Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) 

  • College enrolment dates 

It’s important to remember while you are in the process of applying for student loan forgiveness, you must still make your regular student loan repayments.  

For those enrolled in the SAVE program, your loan will be forgiven once you have made the necessary payments.  

Get expert financial advice 

When graduation looms, financial pressure mounts. 

For many, the closer you get to graduation day, a day that should be full of happiness and excitement, the more anxiety you feel about your financial future and paying off your student loans.  

Whether it’s understanding your student loan repayments, applying for student debt forgiveness, or even setting up a college savings account for your children, it’s wise to seek professional financial advice.  

It can prove far more valuable than the price of not finding the advice you need.  

Unbiased can connect you with a financial advisor who can provide the expert guidance you’re looking for. They’ll learn all about your situation to create a tailored plan so you can meet your financial goals.  

Find an expert advisor. 

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Senior Content Writer

Rachel Carey

Rachel is a Senior Content Writer at Unbiased. She has nearly a decade of experience writing and producing content across a range of different sectors.

Need help with your finances?

A financial advisor can help you develop a comprehensive financial plan to meet your needs.