Loan Forgiveness for Long-Term Student Loan Payers
Student Loan Borrowers to Get Payments Recounted and Forgiven after 25 Years
Have you been paying off your federal student loans for years? Decades? Since the ‘90s?? The end is in sight! Last year the Biden Administration announced yet another action in its efforts to address the student debt crisis: a one-time adjustment to borrowers’ payment counts to (re)align them with the income-driven repayment (IDR) program. Created alongside the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, IDR was introduced in 2007 to help Americans with runaway federal student loan debt make their payments more manageable without dragging out repayment indefinitely. It allows borrowers to adjust their monthly student loan payment based on their discretionary income. Depending on the plan—applicants have several to choose from, determined by salary restrictions—repayment is capped at 25 years, after which point the remaining balance is forgiven, with some potential tax obligations.
A Fix to a Fix: Getting Borrowers Back on Track with IDR
The IDR program has, unfortunately, suffered some setbacks from mismanagement by student loan servicers—like unnecessary interest capitalizations and repayment period extensions—but the Department of Education is taking action to correct past mistakes. This summer, all borrowers will automatically have their payments recounted to make sure they’re seeing the highest number of payments towards forgiveness. Previously, only those payments made under an IDR plan were counted towards the necessary 25 years. Following the IDR Account Adjustment, however, the Dept. of Ed. will include:
- any months in a repayment status, regardless of the payments made, loan type, or repayment plan;
- 12 or more months of consecutive forbearance or 36 or more months of cumulative forbearance;
- months spent in economic hardship or military deferments after 2013;
- months spent in any deferment (with the exception of in-school deferment) prior to 2013; and
- any time in repayment on earlier loans prior to consolidation of those loans into a consolidation loan.*
To make sure you can take advantage of this one-time opportunity, you will need to identify the type of federal loans you have. If you are unsure of how to do that, check with your student loan professionals. Borrowers with FFEL loans—which did not previously qualify for IDR plans—can apply to consolidate their FFELs into a Direct Consolidation Loan by May 1, 2023 and have all of their time spent in repayment counted toward forgiveness. This recount will take place for all borrowers, regardless of type of employment type—unlike PSLF—which will benefit a variety of physicians, including those in private practice, employed by for-profit healthcare corporations, employed by physician-owned private groups, and who are unemployed or retired.
The Department of Education indicates that the IDR Account Adjustment should be completed by July 1, 2023. Borrowers who have already exceeded the mandatory payment window (25 years) could see immediate forgiveness and receive a refund for excess payments.
Loan forgiveness is finally the light at the end of the tunnel! We know it sounds too good to be true, but this is just one more facet of the Biden Administration’s overhaul of the federal student loan system, and we expect more action to follow. If you have questions about how you may be affected by the IDR Account Adjustment, the broader reform effort, or other questions about your student loans, reach out to your student loan professionals at Navigate for student loan advice tailored to your individual situation. Don’t wait another day to say “goodbye” to your student loans, let us help you get on track and put student debt in the rearview mirror.
If you have Federal Student Loans, schedule your free 15-minute Discovery Session to find out if your loans can be forgiven after 25 years.