Public service loan forgiveness programs
Reduce your student loan debt through public service
To encourage students to pursue certain careers, the federal government has created many programs that can forgive some or all of a borrower's student loan debt. Some of these programs overlap, and plan specifics change frequently. Contact your lender to find out what program works best for you.
For the latest, most complete information about loan forgiveness, visit the Federal Student Aid website.
You can qualify for loan forgiveness by:
- Volunteering with AmeriCorps, Peace Corps or VISTA
- Joining the military
- Working for the federal government or any state, local or tribal government
- Working for a nonprofit organization
- Teaching in underserved communities
- Providing child care services in underserved communities
- Serving in an Area of National Need
Volunteering with AmeriCorps, Peace Corps or VISTA
Volunteering with a qualifying entity can make a direct impact on your student loan debt. Here are the specific programs and contact information for participating volunteer organizations.
AmeriCorps | 1-800-942-2677
Serve 12 months and you are eligible to receive $4,725 for your loans.
Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) | 1-800-942-2677
Provide 1700 hours of service and you are eligible to receive $4,725 for your loans or a modest stipend. This program is administered through AmeriCorps.
Joining the military
Each branch of the service has its own loan forgiveness program. Critical positions often qualify for a higher amount of loan forgiveness. For details, contact an armed forces recruiter or visit them online.
- U.S. Army: Paying for College
- U.S. Army National Guard: Paying for College
- U.S. Navy: Earn money for College
- U.S. Marine Corps
- U.S. Air Force: Money for School
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Working for the federal government or any state, local or tribal government
If you are a public servant and a Direct Loan Program borrower, you may qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. You’ll make payments through either the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) or Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) plan for 10 years. After that time, any remaining student loan debt is forgiven.
The program is best when you have high student loan debt and low income. To see if Public Service Loan Forgiveness is right for you, use our Income-based repayment calculator.
Key features of Public Service Loan Forgiveness:
- The repayment term is 10 years, with payments through IBR or ICR
- You must be a full-time public servant
- All loans must be Direct Loan Program loans
- You can consolidate non-Direct loans into Direct loans to qualify
- After 10 years, any remaining student loan debts are forgiven
- Deferment and forbearance periods do not count toward the 10 years
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Working for a nonprofit organization
If you are a Direct Loan Program borrower, working for some nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations can qualify you for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
For complete details on what qualifies for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, download the U.S. Department of Education's Public Service Loan Forgiveness fact sheet.Back to top
Teaching in underserved communities
If you are a full-time teacher, you may qualify for complete cancellation of your Perkins loans and up to $17,550 in forgiveness for qualifying Stafford loans (both FFEL Program and Direct Loan Program borrowers). The key requirement is that you teach at a school that serves low-income students. You can search for qualifying schools online.
For details on loan forgiveness for teachers, visit the Federal Student Aid web pages on:
The American Federation of Teachers maintains a state-by-state list of additional forgiveness programs for teachers. Visit the American Federation of Teachers website for details.
To apply for teacher loan forgiveness, talk to your lender and submit the appropriate form below. If you don’t know who your lender is, go to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), which is the central database for all federal student loan information.Back to top
Providing child care services in underserved communitiesBack to top
Serving in an Area of National Need
The U.S. Congress designates certain occupations as Areas of National Need. If you work in one of these areas, you may qualify for $2,000 of loan forgiveness for each year you work in the field. You may claim up to 5 years of service for a total of $10,000.
Congress did not fund the Areas of National Need program for the 2009–2010 budget year, but funds may be available in future years.
Bookmark this page and return to it in the future for updated information.Back to top