Under some circumstances, you can get rid of your student loans altogether through loan cancellation. To cancel your loans, you must meet one of the conditions that allow you to do so.
In this article we discuss three of those methods—cancellation due to school closure, false certification, and unpaid refund. (To learn about other options for dealing with student loans, see Student Loans: Cancellation, Deferment, and Forbearance. To find out about other ways to cancel loans, see Student Loan Relief: Canceling Your Loans.)
If you qualify for cancellation of your student loans—also known as discharge—you might be able to:
In addition, certain types of discharges treat the loan as if you never owed it, like closed school and false certification discharges, and wipe out all negative references in your credit report. (Learn what's in your credit report.)
If only a portion of your debt is wiped out due to the school’s failure to pay a required refund on your loan, your credit report must state that a portion of the loan was discharged.
The below ways to cancel your loan—school closure, false certification, and unpaid refunds—are most likely to apply to students who attended private, for-profit schools. These schools typically offer vocational courses, degrees, or online courses. Also, there are special cancellation programs for those who attended a Corinthian College.
This article refers to various types of student loans (for example, FFEL, Direct, Perkins, etc). If you don't know what type of loan you have, see Overview of Student Loans.
Many former students were lulled into taking out student loans to attend a school with glowing descriptions of future careers and high salaries, only to have the school deteriorate or close before they could finish the program. You can cancel a FFEL, Direct, or Perkins loan if you received any of the loan proceeds after January 1, 1986, as well as the portion of a consolidation loan used to pay off any of these loans if you were unable to complete the program because the school closed:
You aren't eligible for cancellation of your loans if your school closes and any of the following applies to you:
If the school did not make sure that you were qualified to attend the program, you might be able to cancel your loans based on “false certification.” This program applies to FFEL or Direct loans if you received any of the loan proceeds after January 1, 1986, as well as the portion of a consolidation loan used to pay off one of these loans. (If you had a Perkins loan, you may have other grounds to have the loan canceled, but will need to contact an attorney familiar with the intricacies of student loan law for help. To find a student loan law expert in near you, visit Nolo's Lawyer Directory).
Typically, the grounds for false certification are any of the following:
You might be eligible for a discharge of your Direct Loan or FFEL Program loan if the school failed to pay you a refund that it owed you because you never attended the school or you withdrew from the school and were owed a refund for the time left in the program. In addition, some states have funds to reimburse students who didn’t get refunds due them.
To learn more about the different types of student loan discharges, go to the U.S. Department of Education website. To learn the process for canceling a student loan, contact your loan servicer.