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How to apply for borrower defense to repayment

This forgiveness program cancels your debt if your school broke the law.

Updated

If your school misled you or left out important information about your student loans, you might be eligible for full or partial forgiveness of your federal student debt. This is particularly popular with for-profit universities that receive federal funds. But you only qualify if your school violates state laws related to student aid.

What is borrower defense to repayment?

Borrower defense to repayment is a type of federal student loan discharge for students who attended a school that broke state laws related to how federal student loans were provided. Qualified students can have all or part of their federal loans forgiven, depending on the circumstances. Some might also receive a reimbursement for repayments they’ve already made.

Eligibility requirements for borrower defense to repayment

Borrower defense to repayment is only available on federal student loans — and only in cases where your school’s misconduct related to your student loans.

You can apply for forgiveness for loans issued by multiple schools, as long as they all are guilty of misconduct. And applying for borrower defense to repayment means you can still be eligible for other types of forgiveness, including closed school student loan discharge.

What counts at misconduct?

A school is guilty of misconduct if it violates sate laws related to consumer protections or eduction. It’s also guilty if it mislead you about the program you attended or your loans.

Let’s take a look at an example. Several former Kaplan College students who attended two of its Texas campuses back in 2015 are eligible for borrower defense to repayment. Why? Because they received federal loans for courses taught by unqualified instructors, according to Texas state law.

Not all legal violations count toward borrower defense to repayment. If you have another type of legal claim against the university — say you were harassed or injured on campus — this type of discharge is unavailable to you.

How do I apply for borrower defense student loan discharge?

You can apply for borrower defense student loan discharge by filling out an online application or downloading and completing a PDF.

Applying online

The borrower defense to repayment online application is available on the Federal Student Aid (FSA) website. The FSA recommends you log in with your FSA ID, though it’s possible to apply without one — it just takes longer to process.

Applying with a PDF

You can download and fill out a PDF either by hand or on your computer. The borrower defense to repayment PDF application is available through the FSA website. Once you’ve finished it, you can send it by:

  • Email. Send a scanned copy of your signed application and any additional documents to BorrowerDefense@ed.gov.
  • Mail. Send a paper copy along with additional documents to:

US Dept. of Education — Borrower Defense to Repayment
PO Box 1854
Monticello, KY 42633

How to fill out the application for borrower defense to repayment?

Follow these steps to complete the application for borrower defense to repayment. Keep in mind they might vary depending on if you apply online or through a PDF.

What documents do I need to provide?

While you aren’t required to provide any documents, doing so can strengthen your case and speed up your application. You might want to include:

  • Transcripts
  • Enrollment agreements
  • Registration documents
  • Promotional materials
  • Emails between you and school officials
  • Course catalogs
  • Course manuals

My student loan discharge was approved. Now what?

It depends on how much you get approved for. If you’re approved to have all of your loans discharged, you won’t have to make any more repayments. If your loans are partially discharged, you’ll continue paying off your student loans, but have a reduced balance.

What can I do if my student loan discharge was denied?

If your application was denied, you’ll be responsible for paying off your student loans. If you opted for forbearance, the interest that accumulated while your application was being processed gets added to your loan balance.

Defaulted student loans will also go back into collections. This means the government will start withholding your tax refunds and potentially garnishing your wages until your loans are paid off.

If you believe your application was denied by mistake, reach out to your loan servicer for more details.

Alternatives to borrower defense to repayment

Borrower defense to repayment is only one student loan discharge option out there. You also might want to consider:

  • Closed school student loan discharge. If your school closed while you were enrolled or recently after you withdrew, you could be eligible for a full discharge of your student loans.
  • Federal and state forgiveness. Both individual states and the federal government have forgiveness programs you can apply to. Most are based on your career and require a service commitment.
  • Employer-based forgiveness. Many companies have started offering student loan forgiveness as an employee benefit.

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Bottom line

You could have all or part of your loans forgiven if your school violated state laws related to student loans. Providing documents and applying online using your FSA ID is the quickest way to get approved.

Don’t qualify? Check out over 10 other ways to get your student loans forgiven.

Frequently asked questions

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