What to Do if You Don’t Qualify for Biden’s Debt Relief

Grace Lemire
Grace Lemire

Grace Lemire is a freelance writer and editor with over five years of experience in the personal finance industry. She has been featured on a variety of publications, including NPR, CNN, FinanceBuzz, Dollar Geek, Pangea, and True Finance. Her work focuses on the intersection of personal finance and technology. In 2023, Grace was nominated for the Best Personal Finance Advice award in Debt.com’s FinTok Awards.

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September 5, 2022

Since 1980, the cost of a college education has nearly tripled, even after adjusting for inflation. Yet, federal aid hasn’t kept up.

So, during his presidential campaign, Joe Biden promised to cancel $10,000 of federal student loan debt per borrower.

In August, he followed through with his promise, announcing up to $20,000 in forgiveness for eligible borrowers. While his plan will provide relief to millions, there are some borrowers that do not qualify.

Whether you don’t qualify due to your income or the type of loans you have, there are other student loan forgiveness programs available that you should consider.

Who Qualifies for Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness?

Before completely writing off your eligibility, let’s review who qualifies for President Biden’s student loan forgiveness. To qualify, you must:

  1. Have federal student loans
  2. Make less than $125,000 per year, or less than $250,000 per year if married

If you received Pell Grants while in college, and meet the above criteria, you will receive $20,000 in student debt forgiveness. If you did not receive Pell Grants while in college, but meet the above criteria, you will receive $10,000 in student debt forgiveness.

Private student loans are not eligible for student loan forgiveness.

What to Do if You Don’t Qualify for Student Loan Forgiveness

If you don’t qualify for President Biden’s student loan forgiveness, there are other options you should consider.

Other Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

If you’re still itching for your student debt to be wiped out, or at least a portion of it, we don’t blame you. Consider other student loan forgiveness programs, such as the following:

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Public Service Loan Forgiveness, or PSLF, is a government program intended to ease the burden of student loan debt for eligible public service workers. To qualify, you’ll need to have made 120 on-time, qualifying monthly payments on a Direct loan, on a qualifying repayment plan, while working for a qualifying employer.

Qualifying roles include, but are not limited to:

  • Teachers, staff members, and administrators at public schools
  • Law enforcement officers at the federal, state, or local level
  • Social workers at public service agencies
  • General employees at federal, state, or local agencies
  • Military servicemen
  • Public health professionals such as nurses, doctors, or administrators
  • Employees at 501(c)(3) organizations
  • Full-time volunteers at AmeriCorps or PeaceCorps organizations

If you do qualify, your remaining loan balance will be forgiven.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness

Teacher Loan Forgiveness is a federal program providing teachers with debt relief. To qualify, you must be a highly-qualified teacher that taught at a low-income school or educational service agency for at least five consecutive school years.

The amount forgiven depends on the subject you teach:

  • Full-time, secondary-level science or math teachers: Up to $17,500
  • Special education teachers: Up to $17,500
  • Other subjects: Up to $5,000

Nurse Corps Loan Repayment

Nurses working in critical shortage facilities may be eligible for forgiveness through the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment program. To qualify, you’ll need to:

  • Have attended a qualifying U.S. nursing school
  • Be either a registered nurse (RN), nurse faculty (NF), or advanced practice registered nurse (APRN)
  • Work full-time in a critical shortage facility or accredited nursing program

If you qualify, up to 85% of your nursing school debt can be forgiven.

Income-Driven Repayment Loan Forgiveness

Income-driven repayment (IDR) is a federal loan repayment option that bases your monthly loan payment on your income, rather than basing it on your remaining balance. If you make qualifying payments on an IDR plan for 20-25 years, your remaining loan balance can be forgiven.

Federal Direct Consolidation

If you’re struggling to manage several loan payments at once, consolidating may help you. 

Federal Direct Consolidation loans allow you to combine multiple federal loans into one. Then, you’re given a new interest rate equal to the average of your initial interest rates, rounded to the nearest eighth of a percent.

While consolidating won’t save you on interest, it could provide you with access to more repayment options, such as a different repayment plan or a longer repayment period.

In some instances, consolidating may be necessary to qualify for certain forgiveness programs. If you have questions about how consolidating may impact your forgiveness opportunities, contact your loan servicer directly.

Private Student Loan Refinancing

If you don’t qualify for student loan forgiveness because you have private student loans, refinancing to a lower interest rate or a shorter repayment period may be your best bet.

A lower interest rate can reduce your monthly payment, as well as how much you pay over the life of the loan. A shorter repayment period will increase your monthly payment amount, but you’ll save on interest in the long run.

To qualify for a competitive refinance loan, you’ll need a stable income and a decent credit score. To explore your options for refinancing, complete the Sparrow application.

Final Thoughts from the Nest

If you’re confident you don’t qualify for President Biden’s student debt relief, don’t worry — there are other options you may qualify for. Start by verifying your eligibility for other student loan forgiveness programs. Then, decide whether consolidating or refinancing makes sense for you. If you’re unsure which route to take, contact your loan servicer for personalized recommendations.

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