Federal Loan Forgiveness Programs
There are a number of loan forgiveness programs available to federal student loan borrowers. Eligibility may be based on loan type, employment, or other factors.
Direct Loan Forgiveness Programs
Biden-Harris Administration's Student Debt Relief Plan
In August 2022, the Biden Administration announced that the U.S. Department of Education will provide up to $20,000 in debt cancellation to Pell Grant recipients with loans held by the Department of Education and up to $10,000 in debt cancellation to non-Pell Grant recipients. Borrowers are eligible for this relief if their individual income is less than $125,000 or $250,000 for households. You can view your federal aid history, including Pell Grants and loan balances, at studentaid.gov. Review the official debt relief announcement website for details.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program was created under the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 to provide forgiveness to borrowers employed full-time in public service jobs. The remaining balance on eligible Direct Loans is forgiven after 120 on-time monthly payments, under certain repayment plans, while employed in qualifying public service. For more information please review the Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid Public Service Loan Forgiveness overview.
If you are a current or former Northwestern employee and need your employment certified for the PSLF program, you can contact HR for employment verification.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness
This loan forgiveness program is provided to full-time teachers who have taught for five complete and consecutive academic years in a school serving students from low-income families. For more information, please review the Department of Education's Teacher Loan Forgiveness overview. (Does not include PLUS loans.)
For more information
You can visit the Federal Student Aid website's chart for a listing of the forgiveness and cancellation options that are available. Information is also outlined regarding all eligibility requirements.
Perkins Loan Forgiveness Programs
There are certain circumstances under which a student with a Perkins Loan may be eligible for loan forgiveness. Perkins borrowers must be providing services in an eligible field of employment or service and have worked at least one full year in order for the forgiveness to begin.
Examples of some of the qualifying fields include teaching full-time in certain fields or high-need areas, members of the military, medical & legal services and certain volunteer areas.
However, if you are in a qualifying field, you may defer the loan in that first year so that interest will not accrue and payments will not be due. You’ll need to work with your loan servicer to do that. Once you do qualify, the loans will be forgiven over a period of 5 years in increments of 15%, 15%, 20%, 20% and 30%.
Borrowers who received a Perkins Loan while enrolled at Northwestern who qualify and are interested in pursuing this option must complete an application from Northwestern’s Perkins Loan servicer and provide a letter from their employer verifying a qualifying status. Depending upon the chosen profession, the employer may also be required to complete an application as well.
For questions regarding Perkins Loan forgiveness options for a Perkins Loan you received from NU, you may contact a student loan representative at the Student Loan Office. They can answer questions regarding obligations or privileges under your loans.
For more information
For a detailed list and specifics about qualifying for these benefits, please visit The Department of Education’s Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation and Discharge Summary Chart.
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
- Peace Corps and Repayment of Your Federal Student Loans (pdf)