Federal loan discharge

Federal student loans may be eligible for loan discharge (that is when a borrower is no longer responsible for repaying the debt) under certain circumstances. Some of these conditions may be based on a borrower’s personal or financial situation, while others may be due to unforeseen situations like a school closure or identify theft.

Discharge Type Description and Process Direct Loans FFEL Loans Perkins Loans
Total and Permanent Disability

To qualify for total and permanent disability, you are unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity due to documented physical or mental impairment that:

  • May result in death
  • Has continued for not less than 60 months continuously
  • May be expected to last not less than 60 months continuously
  • Has been established by Secretary of Veterans Affairs that you are unemployable due to a service-connected disability

To apply
Complete this form and send to each lender or servicer.

X X X
Death

If you, as the borrower, dies or a the dependent student on whose behalf you obtained a Parent PLUS loan dies, your estate will not be held responsible for loan repayment.

To apply
A family member or other representative needs to provide a certified copy of the death certificate to each lender or servicer.

X X X
Bankruptcy

In rare circumstances, a bankruptcy court reviewing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing may rule that repaying your student loan would cause undue hardship to you or your dependents if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • You could not maintain a minimal standard of living if you continued to repay the loan(s).
  • You would continue to have this hardship for a significant period of your remaining loan repayment.
  • You made good-faith efforts to repay your loans prior to your bankruptcy filing for typically a minimum of 5 years.

To apply
You will need to provide documentation of the court decision to each lender or servicer.

X X X
Closed School Discharge

To qualify for discharge due to school closure you must:

  • Be enrolled at the time of the closure making you unable to complete your program
  • Have attended the school within 90 days of the closure date but withdrew or went on an approved leave of absence.

If you met either of the above circumstances but you completed the program of study through a teach-out or by transferring academic credits or hours earned from the closed school to another school, then you will are not eligible for the discharge.

To apply
Complete this form and send to each lender or servicer.

X X
False Certification of Ability to Benefit Loan Discharge

If your school did not certify that you had a high school diploma or GED or failed to complete your ability to benefit testing in a proper manner, you may be eligible for loan discharge due to false certification your ability to benefit from federal loan funds for your education.

To apply
Complete this form and send to each lender or servicer.

X X
False Certification due to Disqualifying Status Loan Discharge

If at the time of enrollment you had a physical or mental condition or a legal issue that would legally bar employment in your field of study, you may be eligible for loan discharge due to false certification your ability to benefit from federal loan funds for your education.

To apply
Complete this form and send to each lender or servicer.

X X
False Certification due to Unauthorized Signature/Unauthorized Payment Loan Discharge

If your school signed your name on the loan application or promissory note without your authorization; if school falsely certified your loan as a result of identity theft; or if you did not attend class, you may be eligible for loan discharge due to false certification your ability to benefit from federal loan funds for your education.

To apply
Complete this form and send to each lender or servicer.

X X
Unpaid Refund Discharge

If you withdrew from a school that failed to refund the U.S. Department of Education or to the lender, as required, a portion of your Direct or FFEL Loan, you may be eligible for a partial discharge in the amount of the unpaid refund.

To apply
Complete this form and send to each lender or servicer.

X X
Parent or Spouse of September 11, 2011 Victim

If you are a spouse or parent of an eligible public servant or other eligible victim of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks who died or became permanently and totally disabled, you may be eligible for loan discharge.

To apply
Complete this form and send to each lender or servicer.

X X X