A recent article in the New York Times stated: “When Congress created a student loan forgiveness program in 2007, lawmakers wanted to draw people to vital but relatively low-paid careers with a promise: after a decade if borrowers faithfully paid their debts and pursued their work, they would have the remainder of their student loans written off. Since then, tens of thousands of graduates were led to believe by their student loan servicers that they would qualify for relief at the end of a decade, only to be shocked when their applications were rejected.”

“compared the odds of successfully getting through the student loan forgiveness process, to winning a lottery ticket”. Statistically, about 1% of students that were scheduled to get loan forgiveness, actually received it.

The following guide will ensure you are not amongst the 99% of students that had their loan forgiveness application rejected.

The following student loan relief guide shows you exactly:

  1. how to consolidate federal student loans (including what loans are eligible, where to go, and what to click on)
  2. how to choose the right repayment plan that offers loan forgiveness
  3. how to get on the shortest path to loan forgiveness
  4. how to get the absolute lowest monthly payment along the way
  5. what pitfalls to avoid that could result in you getting rejected for loan forgiveness
  6. what websites to visit and what forms to fill out
  7. how to recertify every single year, switch plans if needed and maintain your PSLF eligibility from day one


Summary of Steps to Get Student Loan Debt Forgiveness & Relief

  • A) Consolidate your federal student loans at StudentLoans.Gov. (detailed instructions are below inside the 16-steps)
  • B) Get on an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan that offers loan forgiveness. Check what monthly payment you could qualify for by using this federal student loan consolidation Repayment Estimator Tool. Or, Contact Golden Financial Services for a Free Quote at (866) 376-9846. Ask for a counselor that assists with Federal Student Loans. Keep in mind, there are debt relief programs for private loans, and other programs for federal, but not one program for private and federal.
  • C) Recertify your income-driven repayment plan every single year. If you don’t recertify in time you’ll be kicked out of the income-driven plan and your payment will go back up to what it was. You can become eligible for loan forgiveness in anywhere from 10-25 years, and even faster if you have some type of disability. (instructions are below inside the 16-steps)
  • D) Make a certain number of qualified payments (10-25 years) on any of the income-based plans that offer loan forgiveness (plans include: Pay As You Earn, Income-Based Repayment, Income-Contingent Repayment and a few new ones for 2019 & 2020 that are illustrated in the image below)

student loan forgiveness

  • E) Submit your Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Employment Certification form every year. (This step is only for consumers that have a public service job, like police officers and teachers) – If you are applying for the PSLF program, skim down on this page to where it says: “Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (Aka: Teacher loan forgiveness & PSLF)”
  • F) If delinquent on payments: request 90-days forbearance immediately to provide you sufficient time to get the student loan relief process completed and avoid getting your wages garnished
  • G) If late on payments and want to repair your credit, getting the default marks removed off your credit report; you’ll need to first get on a loan rehabilitation program and make 9 consecutive on-time payments at the reduced amount. You can get on a loan rehabilitation program by simply contacting the collection agency that owns your loans. Let them know that you are calling about a loan rehabilitation program and need to get on the lowest possible payment. To get on the lowest monthly payment you’ll need to illustrate the lowest possible income, by either producing pay stubs or a tax return (which ever of the two are lower). If you produce 30-days-worth of pay stubs because you’ve had a bad month, just multiple that month’s pay times twelve and that’s the number you give them.
  • H) If wages are already garnished: contact the collection agency and request a loan rehabilitation program (same as above, at the lowest possible monthly payment). Loan Rehabilitation will stop the garnishment and restore your federal options. Loan rehabilitation is actually very easy to get started on, just call the collection agency. With stricter laws now in place and government cracking down, these collection agencies are finally ready to do right.

These instructions were provided by the debt relief experts at Golden Financial Services.

Golden Ginancial Services as a courtesy, has helped hundreds of students stop wage garnishment, and the information above is how they’ve done it. If you have federal student loans, private student loans and high credit card debt, we can help you on our programs with all of the above, but we will also provide you instructions on how to do it on your own. For example, with credit card debt we recommend people start with the debt snowball calculator which allows them to get out of debt on their own without a program. Only if you need our help, we’re here to help.

Here’s a quick video that show’s you how to accomplish step one: “Check what monthly payment you could qualify for“. This is not a required step, but Golden Financial Services recommends you do it before starting the consolidation process.

We’ve simplified the entire process by creating easy-to-follow instructions on how to consolidate, get on the right income-driven repayment plan and get loan forgiveness. Just make sure, not to skip a line — because we’ve included only the vital details that you need to know!

Altogether there are 16 steps to follow.

How to Get Student Loan Forgiveness

How to get student loan forgiveness (learn how inside Infographic)

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16 Easy Steps To Consolidate & Get Student Loan Forgiveness STARTS HERE

Are you ready for this? Let’s do it!

Before you can become eligible for student loan forgiveness you need to first consolidate your federal student loans and get on an income-driven repayment plan that offers loan forgiveness.

Step 1: Get FSA-id to consolidate federal student loans…

You will need your Federal Student Aid Username and Password (FSA-id) to consolidate your federal student loans. Visit Fsaid.ed.gov to get it. (Click on where it says “Create an FSA-id” and follow the instructions)

Step 2: (optional) Get a quote on what your new income-based repayment will be before starting the process…

Log in to the Student Loan Consolidation Repayment Plan Estimator to get a quote on what your new payment will be after consolidating. Get an idea of what your options are, prior to starting the consolidation process.

Step 3: Start consolidation… these are step-by-step instructions on how to consolidate.

Consolidate your federal student loans at StudentLoans.Gov.

How To Consolidate Federal Student Loans and Get Loan Forgiveness

Once you log in at StudentLoans.Gov, to start the student loan consolidation process simply click on where it says “Apply for Loan Consolidation” and then follow the instructions.

To start the student loan consolidation process click "Apply for Loan Consolidation" and then follow the instructions.

Step 4: Review all federal student loans that you’re looking to consolidate

After clicking on “Apply for Loan Consolidation“, next you will be prompted to review all of the federal student loans that you want to consolidate. If everything looks correct, continue.

Student Loan Relief Case Example: $181,901 in student loan debt

SIDENOTE: We will be using screenshots to help explain the process throughout the rest of this post. This particular person had $181,901 in student loan debt. Golden Financial Services consolidated their student loans — and took screenshots of each step of the way. These screenshots are being used today to provide a visual that makes it easier to understand the process. 

Step 1. Review loans that need to be consolidated.

Step 5: Select “(1 of the 4)” loan servicers’ to consolidate with…

Select a loan servicer and continue. (how to consolidate student loans)

You can select Navient, FedLoan Servicing, Nelnet or Great Lakes Educational Loan Services as your loan servicer. They all do just about the same thing. The only difference is their website and customer service.

What is the Income-Driven Repayment Plan?

Robert Farrington, the founder, and editor of The College Investor, calls the income-driven repayment plans “the secret ways to getting student loan forgiveness“.

The secret is simple: sign up for a qualifying student loan repayment plan, and your loan will be forgiven at the end of the plan (within 10-25 years).

This next image illustrates the technical details that determine your monthly payment and amount of loan forgiveness.

This next image illustrates the technical details that determine what your monthly payment will be and how much loan forgiveness you'll be eligible for. 
Source: https://studentaid.ed.gov

Step 6: Enter “Family Size” and “Annual Gross Income”

Your income driven repayment plan monthly payment is based on family size and income.

Your new consolidated monthly payment will be based on your “family size” and “annual gross income”.

TIP: The larger your family size — the smaller your monthly payment will be.

TIP: Lower your incomethe lower your payment will be.

Visual of ALL the Student Loan Repayment Plans & Projected Loan Forgiveness

Here are the repayment Plans for after consolidating student loans.

TIP: Cross these top 3 off your list if you’re looking for loan forgiveness.

Here are the income-driven repayment plans (most of these do offer loan forgiveness)

image of the different income driven repayment plans at StudentLoans.gov

The Pay As You Earn (PAYE), Income-Based Repayment (IBR), IBR for New Borrowers and Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) are all excellent options that offer loan forgiveness.

IBR and ICR repayment plans (visual of amount forgiven and payment)

How Does The IBR For New Borrowers Work?

Keep in mind; just because you are presented with all of these options when consolidating at StudentLoans.Gov, doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to qualify for all of them.

You can only qualify for the IBR for New Borrowers if you are a new borrower on or after July 1, 2014. 

What If I Have Parent PLUS Loans?

Parent PLUS loans are NOT eligible for income-based repayment. They are, however, eligible for income-contingent repayment if they are included in a Federal Direct Consolidation Loan and the borrower entered repayment on or after July 1, 2006.” Source: FastWeb

Here’s the trick for parents with Parent Plus Loans. You must consolidate these loans and get on an income-contingent repayment (ICR) plan for year one. The downside with the ICR is that the payment will be higher than what it would be on the Pay As You Earn or Income-Based Repayment plan. Also, Parent Plus Loans don’t qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. However, here’s the trick. Well, it’s not really a trick, but nobody knows about it because the government, Department of Education and loan servicers do a crummy job at educating our students. After year one of being on the income-contingent repayment plan, for year two when it’s time to recertify you can switch from the ICR to the Pay As You Earn or Income-Based Repayment plan at that point since you no longer have Parent-Plus loans. And, at that point (at the second year mark), students can also apply for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program by submitting the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Employment Certification form here.

$0 Monthly Payment on the Income-Driven Repayment Plans

In this next image; you can see the consumer has $181,901.00 in student loan debtTheir family size is “4. (2 kids & 2 additional dependents) and their annual gross income is $15,000. This client qualifies for a $0 monthly payment.

Next - Enter your family size and annual gross income - and choose an income driven repayment plan.

In this example; I would choose either the Pay As You Earn or the IBR for New Borrowers because both of these options offer loan forgiveness after 240 payments and a $0 payment.

What Is My Income Based On?

Your income is based on either your most recently filed tax return or 30-days worth of pay-stubs from within the last 90-days (go with whatever shows the lowest income).

Here is another example of the different income-based student loan repayment plans & loan forgiveness options: (notice the column labeled “Amount Forgiven”)

Student Loan Consolidation Repayment Plan Examples

In this example above, the most attractive plan would be either the “Pay As You Earn” or the “IBR for New Borrowers” — as both of these options would give you $119,222.02 of loan forgiveness and a low monthly payment of $65.92.

Step 7: Choose an income-driven repayment plan

Now that we’ve provided you several examples and lots of education on the different repayment plans available — it’s time for you to pick your income-driven repayment plan.

Step 8: Electronically sign the paperwork and it will get submitted to the loan service who you selected

Once you start the consolidation process at StudentLoans.Gov, the entire process only takes about 20-25 minutes to complete.

After choosing your income-driven repayment plan, you will be asked to “agree” to several disclosures and electronically sign everything.

Step 9: Receive loan pay-off summary

Within 3-6 weeks after your consolidation paperwork is submitted, you will receive a notice in the mail asking you to review the loans that are scheduled to be “paid in full”. At that point, you can rest assured knowing that everything was approved and your existing loans are about to be paid off.

Step 10: Recertify every year

Remember, the monthly payment can change each year. If you forget to recertify at the end of the year you can quickly get kicked out of the plan — your payment would then shoot back-up and you’d no longer be making qualified payments towards your loan forgiveness. (most common mistake students’ make!)

In this next image, the student is enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan with a payment of $0 per month, but if he forgets to recertify — his payment goes back up to $1,920 per month. (Look at this notice from his loan servicer)

Here Is What Happens If You Forget To Recertify

How To Recertify on the Income-Based Repayment Plan

How To Recertify Your Income-Based Repayment Plan (Annually)

To recertify your income-based repayment plan you simply need to submit your annual income proof to whoever your loan servicer is.

You do this by going back to StudentLoans.Gov, but instead of clicking on the consolidation option you would log in and click on “Apply for an income-driven repayment plan”.

How To Recertify Each Year IBR

Next, you will be taken to a page that looks like this… Click on the button that says “Submit Re-Certification”

How to submit annual recertification for the IBR plan.

Just follow the directions at this point.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (Aka: Teacher loan forgiveness & PSLF)

If you work over 30-hours per week in a “public service job”, such as teachers’ do — you can have your loan balance forgiven after only 120 qualified payments (10-years), versus, 20-25 years for anyone that doesn’t work in a public service job.

Step 11: Consolidate your student loans (Only applicable to students’ who work in a public service job)

Your first step is to consolidate your federal student loans at StudentLoans.Gov (exactly as explained in the steps above)

Step 12: Get on an Income-Driven Repayment Plan (Only applicable to students’ who work in a public service job)

Get approved for the income-driven repayment plan that offers you the lowest monthly payment and the highest amount of loan forgiveness. (so far the process stays exactly as explained above)

Step 13: Submit Employment Certification Form to FedLoan Servicing (Only applicable to students’ who work in a public service job)

Here is where the process changes for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

THIS PUBLIC-SERVICE-EMPLOYMENT-CERTIFICATION-FORM needs to be submitted to FedLloan Servicing prior to starting your new income-based repayment plan and after 120 qualified payments are made (10-years’ worth of payments). 

By completing the employment certification form prior to making your first monthly payment on the income-driven repayment plan —  you are solidifying proof that you’ve worked in a public service job for the entire duration of the last ten years.

SIDENOTE: There is also a section on the Public Service Employment Certification Form that your employer needs to complete and sign.

Where to send the form?

Don’t send the Public Service Employment Certification Form to your loan servicer — it needs to be sent to FedLoan Servicing. FedLoan Servicing is in charge of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

Mail to: U.S. Department of Education, FedLoan Servicing, P.O. Box 69184, Harrisburg, PA 17106-9184.


Fax to: 717-720-1628.

SIDENOTE: Don’t forget to recertify every year. 

Could You Walk Away From Your Student Loan Debt Without Paying Anything?

At the time when you’re eligible for loan forgiveness, whether that’s in 10 years or 25 years — if you’ve remained on the $0 payment for the entire duration of the plan — YES you could end up paying NOTHING in the end. You could have over $100,000 in student loans and get every bit of it forgiven.

If you get approved for the $0 payment on the income-based repayment plan and stay on that same plan every year until your up for loan forgiveness you could literally walk away from your student loan debt without paying a single dollar.

$0 Income Based Repayment Plan and Entire Balance Getting Forgiven.

WARNINGThousands of qualified consumers won’t be getting student loan forgiveness on the public service program even though they believe they will be — because they forget to submit the employment certification form in step number three — or because they forget to recertify on time!

Do you work in a Public Service Job? (here are examples of Public Service Jobs)

  • government jobs – at a state, local or federal level
  • 501(c)(3) non-profit companies
  • Teachers
  • Americorps or Peace Corps Volunteers

What to do if you are behind on student loan payments?

Step 14: Request IDR forbearance or 90-days forbearance (Only applicable if you’re behind on monthly payments)

IDR forbearance is “forbearance that lasts until your income-driven repayment plan is processed”. In the past, you would have to request 90-days forbearance, but in 2019 you can request IDR forbearance. If your income-driven repayment plan is approved within 60-days, the forbearance would end at that point.

Step 15: Consolidate Student Loans (Only applicable if you’re behind on monthly payments)

Consolidate your loans.

Step 16: Get on an income-driven repayment plan

Get on an income-driven repayment plan that offers loan forgiveness.

Need Help? Talk to a Certified Student Loan Relief Counselor at (866)-376-9846

Student Loan Forgiveness Assistance from Certified Student Loan Relief Specialists at Golden Financial Services.

Other posts that you may be interested in:

What is Trump Student Loan Forgiveness

Private Student Loan Relief Options for 2017

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One comment on “How to Consolidate Federal Student Loans & Debt Forgiveness (16 Steps)

  1. Jake Paul
    November 21, 2017

    This is really a helpful article, but I have one question. What if I got kicked out of my student loan consolidation program? Now I received a letter saying that if I don’t take action my wages will be garnished within 30-days. What should I do?