Canceling Student Loans: Teaching, Volunteer Work, and Public Service

If you do public service work, teach, or volunteer after graduation, you might be able to cancel part or all of your student loans.

In some circumstances you can cancel (discharge) your obligation to repay your federal student loans. While several different cancellation options exist, this article provides information about cancellation of all or part of your loan because of work you do after graduation. (To learn about other ways to cancel student loans, see Student Loan Relief: Canceling Your Loans. To learn about other options for dealing with student loans, see Student Loans: Cancellation, Deferment, and Forbearance.)

Discharging Student Loans If You Engage in Certain Types of Work

Different federal loans have different cancellation programs that apply if you are engaged in a particular type of work, such as volunteering for the Peace Corps, teaching needy populations, serving in the military, or providing other public service. Some programs allow you to postpone payments on your loans only while you are engaged in the service; others allow you to cancel all or a portion of the loan. For example:

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Under this program, the remaining balance on your eligible loans is forgiven after you make 120 qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer.

Perkins Loan Cancellation (Including Teacher Cancellation)

You might be eligible to have all or a portion of your Federal Perkins Loan canceled based on your employment, like if you teach in a qualifying school, or volunteer service, like if you serve in the Peace Corps.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness

If you work as a teacher, full-time for five complete and consecutive academic years in a low-income school or educational service agency—and you meet other qualifications—you might qualify to have up to $17,500 forgiven.

Getting Information on Student Loan Cancelation Programs

If you have questions about your loans, forgiveness programs, and how to apply for them, contact your servicer. You can also get detailed information about federal student loans, forgiveness programs, and other ways to manage your student loan debt on the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid website.

To learn more about dealing with student loans, what happens when you default on student loans, and how to get financial aid, see our Student Loan Debt area. Nolo's Solve Your Money Troubles: Debt, Credit & Bankruptcy, by Amy Loftsgordon and Cara O'Neill, also contains information about student loan relief.

Talk to a Lawyer

Need a lawyer? Start here.

How it Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you
Get Professional Help

Talk to a Debt Settlement Lawyer.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you