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How to get Parent PLUS Loan forgiveness
It's possible, but you'll need to consolidate your debt first.
What are my forgiveness options for a Parent PLUS Loan?
Technically, Parent PLUS Loans aren’t eligible for any type of federal forgiveness programs. However, you can apply for two types of forgiveness if you first consolidate your federal debt with a Direct Consolidation Loan:
- Income-contingent repayment (ICR) forgiveness
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
Both of these options take at least 10 or 25 years. If that’s too long, you might want to consider other options like discharge, refinancing or state forgiveness programs.
How to apply for Parent PLUS Loan forgiveness
Both ICR forgiveness and PSLF follow many of the same steps — PSLF just has one additional step at the end.
Step 1: Consolidate your loans
A Direct Consolidation Loan involves taking out a new federal loan to pay off your Parent PLUS balance. You can apply for consolidation on the Federal Student Aid (FSA) website by logging in with your FSA ID — the ID you created when you first applied for a Parent PLUS Loan.
You can follow our step-by-step guide to filling out the Direct Consolidation Loan application. Continue to pay off your loan as usual after you submit the application until your servicer contacts you with further instructions.
Step 2: Sign up for the ICR Plan
To qualify for both types of forgiveness, you need to first be on an income-driven repayment plan. Parent PLUS Loans aren’t eligible for any income-driven repayment plan on their own. But even consolidated Parent PLUS Loans are only eligible for income-contingent repayments.
You can sign up by contacting your loan servicer and filling out an ICR application form after you’ve consolidated your loans. Each year, you’ll have to submit documents verifying your income to determine your repayments.
If you’re interested in ICR forgiveness, this is all you need to do for 25 years. After that, your remaining balance is eligible for forgiveness.
Step 3: Apply for PSLF
Want forgiveness faster? Parents working an eligible public service job can qualify for forgiveness after making 120 repayments on the ICR Plan.
You’ll need to submit a PSLF employment certification form for each employer you work for while on the ICR Plan. You can submit them all at once or as you switch employers — the Department of Education (DoE) recommends the latter.
After submitting the employment certification form, your loans will go into forbearance while the DoE reviews your application. If you’re approved, the DoE forgives your entire loan balance.
Consider state, local and private forgiveness programs
Federal loan forgiveness programs are slow and applying can be time consuming. Fortunately, many states and local governments offer forgiveness programs to residents. Make sure parent loans are eligible before you apply — some states might also have other restrictions.
How to get a Parent PLUS Loan discharged
Student loan discharge is another way to cancel your student loans. Unlike forgiveness, your eligibility for discharge is based on circumstances beyond your control. There are seven types of student loan discharge:
- Closed school discharge
- False certification or unauthorized payment discharge
- Unpaid refund discharge
- Borrower defense discharge
- Bankruptcy discharge
- Total and permanent disability discharge
- Death discharge
Transfer the debt with Parent PLUS refinancing
When forgiveness and discharge aren’t on the table, you can also transfer the debt to your child by refinancing the loan in their name. This might not be immediately available either — your child needs to build up strong enough credit to qualify for a loan on their own.
Refinancing doesn’t erase the debt, but it can free up your credit utilization if you want to take out another type of loan or sign up for a credit card.
Compare student loan refinancing offers
You have a few forgiveness options for Parent PLUS Loans — as long as you consolidate your debt and sign up for income-contingent repayments first. But it can involve a lot of work and take at least a decade to finally qualify.
Instead, you might want to consider local forgiveness programs, student loan discharge or even refinancing the loans into your child’s name. Explore these options and more with our guide to student loans.
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