It is incredibly hard to get a “break” from paying back student loans.

With that said, there are few programs sponsored by the government that helps you get rid of your student loans.

While you may jump at the opportunity to dump your student debt, these programs come with some caveats.

You’ll want to weigh the decision of pursuing a student loan forgiveness program against paying back your loans the good old fashioned standard way.

On top of that, not everyone qualified for student loan forgiveness.

Federal student loans provided to you by the government can be forgiven. However private student loans from private companies cannot be forgiven (generally speaking). If you have private loans, consider refinancing them to lower your interest rate, which can help you lower student loan payments.

The government offers several types of student loans, and while the majority of them are eligible to be forgiven, not all of them are. Loans originating from the direct loan program are eligible.

Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

1. Public student loan forgiveness (PSLF)

The most popular student loan forgiveness plan is  the public student loan forgiveness plan. This plan is for student loan debt holders who work in certain public sector/government jobs or qualifying non-profit organizations.

To qualify, you need to be enrolled in a qualifying repayment plan and have made at least 120 monthly loan payments. On this plan, after your 120 payment period, you may qualify to have the rest of your student loans forgiven.

On this plan, you will likely want to be on an repayment plan that keeps payments as low as possible, such as an income based repayment plan. Standard repayment plans are roughly 10 years, and if you’re on this type of repayment plan, you may have little to no student debt to be forgiven after 10 years.

If you want to enroll in the PSLF plan, consider a repayment plan that keeps monthly payments as low as possible. This means you’ll have more student loan debt left over after your 120 payments that can be forgiven. Choose an income driven repayment plan that makes the most sense for you.

2. Income based repayment plan forgiveness

Income based repayment plans are plans for student loan debtors who have a hard time paying their student loan debt back on a standard repayment plan.

On an income driven repayment plan, you can qualify to have the remaining balance of your student loans forgiven after 20 or 25 years.

The benefit of this plan is that your monthly loan repayment amount will be based on your income, which will likely be a maximum of 10-15% of your discretionary income. This will help keep your monthly loan payments manageable.

The downside of this plan is that you will be in student loan debt for 20-25 years. Is this plan the right financial move or is it better to aggressively pay off your student loans so you can be debt free quicker?

An income driven plan is more attractive to student loan holders who have a large amount of debt compared to the amount of salary they are making.

There are several types of repayment plans based on the amount of income you earn and your family size. They vary a little from each other, but repayments are based on your income and any loan amount left over after 20-25 years can be forgiven.

3. Death or permanent disability

In most cases, Federal student loans can be discharged in the case of death or a permanent disability.

Private student loans are generally treated like any other type of debt, and therefore don’t typically qualify for forgiveness. These loans will still need to be “paid for” and will likely go against the deceased estate.

Liability for student debt after death can get tricky if there is a co-signer on the loan, the deceased person was married, what state you live in, and other factors. You may want to consider seeking professional advice if this is a major concern.

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How To Lower Your Student Loan Payments

If the student loan forgiveness route is not the right option for you, and paying back your loans the good old fashioned way of working hard and throwing as much money as you can at it, you’ll want to make sure you pay as little as possible in interest cost.

Lowering your student loan interest rate is one of the best ways to decease your monthly student loan payments, as well as decrease the cost of your loan overall.

Many students save thousands of dollars. If your student debt is large, it  can save you tens of thousands of dollars.

How do you get a lower student loan interest rate?

You can do what’s called a “student loan refinance.” This simply means obtaining a new loan that pays off your current student loan(s).

You can refinance all or some of your current student loans. Your new loan will have a different term and interest rate. It’s possible to get a lower interest rate as well as a shorter term with your new refinanced loan.

This would mean you will be able to get debt free faster and pay less money for borrowing.

If you have student loans with high interest rates, a loan refinance is a very attractive option.

You’ll want to check to see if you qualify for a refinance. Not everyone meets the requirements.

LendKey is very popular student refinance company. They work with over 200 financial institutions to get you the lowest interest rate possible. To see what you qualify for, you’ll need to fill out a form. You can do that here.