Have you applied for financial aid or student loans in the past, and now can’t afford to pay back the debt? You are not alone. Student loan debt is at an all-time high, reaching $1.4 trillion as of 2019, according to Experian data.
The good news is that you have solutions available.
What’s the solution? Consolidate your student loans, get on an income-driven repayment plan and eventually loan forgiveness. If you are currently delinquent on payments and need to “buy some time” to avoid getting your wages garnished, you could even request 90-days forbearance.
The following guide walks you through the entire student loan relief process, from A-Z. These instructions were provided by the debt relief experts at Golden Financial Services.
How to Become Eligible For Student Loan Forgiveness:
- 1. Check what monthly payment you could qualify for by simply using this federal student loan consolidation Repayment Estimator Tool.
- 2. Consolidate your federal student loans at StudentLoans.Gov. (instructions are below inside the 16-steps)
- 3. Get approved for an affordable income-driven repayment plan that offers loan forgiveness. (instructions are below inside the 16-steps)
- 4. Recertify your student loan relief 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)
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!
All together there are 16 steps to follow.
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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.
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.
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 your 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 5: Select “(1 of the 4)” loan servicers’ to consolidate with…
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?
This next image illustrates the technical details that determine your monthly payment and amount of loan forgiveness.
Step 6: Enter “Family Size” and “Annual Gross 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 income — the lower your payment will be.
Visual of ALL the Student Loan Repayment Plans & Projected Loan Forgiveness
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)
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.
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
$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 debt. Their 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.
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”)
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 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”.
Next, you will be taken to a page that looks like this… Click on the button that says “Submit Re-Certification”
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 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.
WARNING: Thousands 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
- 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
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