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Guide to Military Student Loan Forgiveness

Editor's Note: For the latest developments regarding federal student loan debt repayment, check out our student debt guide.

Serving the country could serve your bottom line. The Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and National Guard offer programs for repaying part or all of your student loans, if you qualify.

Does the Military Pay Off Your Student Loans?

It might, but you must choose to work in specific military specialties, score at least 50 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, and commit to years of duty.

Military College Loan Repayment Program

Military enlistees, and some already enrolled members, can receive student loan repayment assistance of up to $65,000 for a three- or six-year commitment. Federal student loans and even some private student loans may be forgiven.

To qualify for the LRP programs, you cannot have previous military experience. You must choose to work in one of the military occupational specialties that the military branch is seeking. And many of the programs will require withdrawal from the GI Bill program.

Army Student Loan Repayment: Active Duty

The Army’s Loan Repayment Program is offered to highly qualified applicants enlisting for at least three years. If you meet the eligibility requirements, the Army will pay up to 33.33% of your current principal balance, or $1,500, whichever is greater, per year served. The maximum in loan assistance is $65,000.

Army Reserve College Loan Repayment Program

For this Reserve repayment program, you must enlist for at least six years. The Army will repay 15% of your outstanding principal balance or $1,500, whichever is greater, after each year of service. The total can’t exceed $20,000.


💡 Quick Tip: Get flexible terms and competitive rates when you refinance your student loan with SoFi.

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National Guard Student Loan Repayment Program

To qualify for the National Guard Student Loan Repayment Program, you must enlist for at least six years. You could earn up to $7,500 each year of the incentive term, or up to $50,000 in total student loan repayment.

Navy Student Loan Repayment Program

The Navy will pay 33.33% of the principal balance of a borrower’s federal student loans or $1,500, whichever is higher, for each year of service, up to three years.

The Navy Loan Repayment Program may pay up to $65,000 toward a service member’s student loans.

Coast Guard Loan Repayment Program

The Coast Guard offers new members who commit to three years of service up to $10,000 in loan repayment each year after the first year of active service. The maximum assistance is $60,000.

Health Professions Student Loan Repayment Program

This Army program eases the student debt of doctors, dentists, and other health care professionals who are on active duty or in the Army Reserve. Borrowers can get up to $40,000 of their student loans repaid annually. The maximum assistance is $120,000.

Then there’s the Air Force Financial Assistance Program, for medical and dental residencies. You may receive more than $45,000 for every year you participate in the program plus a stipend of more than $2,000 per month to cover living expenses. Upon completion of your residency, you will have a one-year obligation for each year of participation, plus one extra year.

Prior Service Soldier Loan Repayment Program

Members of the Army Reserve with prior military service may receive up to $50,000 for student loan repayment.

Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Corps Loan Repayment Program

Eligible judge advocate generals (JAGs) can apply for up to $65,000 in student loan repayment. After you have completed the first year as a JAG officer, payments are made directly to lenders for three years.

Other Loan Forgiveness Programs for Military Personnel

National Defense Student Loan Discharge

Active-duty soldiers who have served in hostile fire or imminent danger pay areas for at least one year are eligible for cancellation of their federal Perkins Loans.

A borrower may see 100% of their loan principal, plus interest, canceled for a five-year term of service that began on or after Aug. 14, 2008.

Veterans Total and Permanent Disability Discharge

If you are totally and permanently disabled, you may qualify for discharge of your federal student loans or TEACH Grant service obligation.

In 2021, eligible borrowers identified as totally and permanently disabled based on data matching with the Social Security Administration began automatically having their federal student loans discharged.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

In the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, borrowers who serve full time in the military or who have gone on to other types of public service, including in government agencies, many nonprofits, police departments, and public health organizations, may have any federal student loan balance discharged after making 120 payments (not necessarily in a row).

To qualify, you must sign up for an income-driven repayment plan, meet the job criteria, and make 10 years’ worth of on-time payments.

Other Student Loan Benefits for People in the Military

Interest Rate Cap

Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, the interest rate on any debt incurred before enlisting in the military, including both federal and private student loans, is capped at 6% while you’re on active duty.

Interest Waiver for Those at Dangerous Posts

The Department of Education announced in late 2021 that Under the Higher Education Act, service members deployed to areas that qualify them for imminent danger or hostile fire pay would have no interest accrual on certain federal student loans that were first disbursed on or after Oct. 1, 2008.

The Takeaway

Military student loan forgiveness is possible if you clear a number of hurdles. But you might still need to pay at least a portion of your loans while you’re enlisted and after you resume civilian life.

For many people, refinancing student loans can be a way to get a lower interest rate or a lower monthly payment, especially with a solid credit and employment history. (Note: You may pay more interest over the life of the loan if you refinance with an extended term.)

Refinancing allows you to take out a new loan, with new terms, and use it to pay off your existing federal or private student loans. While doing so can have advantages, you’d be giving up federal programs like Public Service Loan Forgiveness and income-driven repayment plans, and some of the military-specific loan repayment assistance.

Looking to lower your monthly student loan payment? Refinancing may be one way to do it — by extending your loan term, getting a lower interest rate than what you currently have, or both. (Please note that refinancing federal loans makes them ineligible for federal forgiveness and protections. Also, lengthening your loan term may mean paying more in interest over the life of the loan.) SoFi student loan refinancing offers flexible terms that fit your budget.


With SoFi, refinancing is fast, easy, and all online. We offer competitive fixed and variable rates.

FAQ

Does the VA forgive student loans?

The Department of Veterans Affairs has a student loan repayment program for employees in certain occupations. You may be eligible to receive up to $10,000 per year, with a maximum of $60,000, toward the debt.

The VA also offers the Education Debt Reduction Program for health care providers who serve veterans. Up to $200,000 in student loan repayment is offered.

How much student loan debt will the military pay?

Generally up to $65,000, depending on the military branch.

Do 100% disabled veterans pay student loans?

A borrower who is declared totally and permanently disabled is typically not required to repay federal student loans.


Student Loan Refinancing
If you are a federal student loan borrower you should take time now to prepare for your payments to restart, including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. (You may pay more interest over the life of the loan if you refinance with an extended term.) Please note that once you refinance federal student loans, you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans, such as the SAVE Plan, or extended repayment plans.



SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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Private Student Loan Forgiveness: What Is It & How Does It Work?

Editor's Note: For the latest developments regarding federal student loan debt repayment, check out our student debt guide.

Although the Biden-Harris Administration’s plan for widespread student loan forgiveness was ultimately shot down by the Supreme Court, all is not lost for the millions of borrowers hoping to have their loans canceled.

For instance, the administration established a new income-driven repayment plan known as the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) plan. This program replaces another IDR plan — Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) — in an attempt to improve some of its shortcomings and provide greater relief to struggling borrowers. SAVE extends the repayment timeline to 20-25 years and forgives any remaining balance after that period.

That said, student loan forgiveness options may be more limited for borrowers with private loans, who owe an average of $54,921 each.

Student Loan Breaks for Many but Not All

The Biden administration and the U.S. Department of Education have forgiven a large amount student loan debt so far via targeted relief efforts. It canceled $9.5 billion in student loans in 2021, mainly for federal student loan borrowers who are public servants or graduates of now-defunct schools. The administration also canceled federal student loans for borrowers who were defrauded by their institutions and who have total and permanent disabilities.

In August 2022, President Joe Biden announced a larger initiative to forgive up to $20,000 in federal student loans for those who met certain income requirements. However, the Supreme Court deemed that the President didn’t have constitutional power to implement such a plan. Either way, private student loan borrowers were not included in any of the relief.

Recommended: A Guide to Private Student Loans

Can Private Student Loans Be Forgiven?

Do lenders forgive private student loans? Unfortunately, that almost never happens.

However, many do offer student loan deferment or forbearance options for borrowers facing financial hardship. Interest typically accrues during these periods, regardless of whether the borrower is making payments.

Read your loan contract or disclosure statement for your loan, which contains information about terms, rates, fees, and penalties. Here, you’ll find information related to any hardship programs offered by the lender. You can also reach out directly and ask about your options.

Whatever you do, don’t miss a payment. Contact your lender immediately if you’re facing a hardship that will prevent you from making payments on time and in full. After a default on a private student loan, which can happen quickly, private lenders may hire a collection agency or file a lawsuit.


💡 Quick Tip: Enjoy no hidden fees and special member benefits when you refinance student loans with SoFi.

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Private Student Loan Debt Relief Options

Don’t assume that if you’re having trouble making your private student loan payments you don’t have any recourse. Here are a few moves you can consider.

1. Refinance Your Private Student Loans

Refinancing your student loans can offer several benefits. If you have a good credit history and solid income, or a cosigner, you may be able to qualify for a lower interest rate, reducing your monthly payments and the total interest you pay over the life of the loan.

Or you may be able to lengthen the term of your loan and decrease your monthly payments (but elongating the repayment term will usually increase the total interest paid). Give this student loan refinancing calculator a try.
When you refinance, the lender will pay off your old loans and issue you a new loan with a new rate and terms and with one payment.

A few lenders will refinance both federal and private loans. You’ll also be given a choice of a fixed or variable rate.

Even if interest rates rise, variable rates often save money over the long term.

Do your homework:

•  Be sure you’re getting the lowest rate possible with terms that fit your short- and long-term needs.

•  Although student loan refinancing almost never comes with any closing costs, it’s a good idea to find out if there are any fees involved. Keep in mind that you can refinance more than once.

•  If you plan to refinance any federal student loans, know that doing so will permanently forfeit all federal benefits and protections, including income-driven repayment plans, federal deferment and forbearance options, and forgiveness programs such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).

•  Consider lenders that initially do a soft credit pull before you actually apply with them to refinance your student loan. That way, shopping for interest rates will not affect your credit.

Recommended: Soft vs Hard Credit Inquiry: What You Need to Know

2. Talk to Your Lender

Talk to your lender about your options to repay your student debt. You aren’t the first (and you won’t be the last) to ask for help, and many private lenders offer some type of loan modification for borrowers who are financially struggling.

You may be able to negotiate a lower interest rate or a lower payment over a longer term, or set up a period during which you can make interest-only payments.

Be ready to answer questions about why you’ve fallen behind, what other debts you’re paying, and about your income prospects.

Always communicate with your lender to avoid student loan forgiveness scams. Some private companies that falsely offer debt relief may try to ask you to pay monthly costs or upfront fees, ask you for your identification, or promise immediate loan forgiveness. If you think you’re the victim of suspicious activity, contact the Federal Trade Commission.

3. Consider a Payment Pause

Some private lenders offer deferment or forbearance, which will allow you to postpone payments.

•  Deferment is sometimes available to borrowers who are planning to go back to school or who are entering military service.

•  Forbearance is typically available for those who have had an unexpected hardship that makes repayment difficult, such as an illness or a job loss.

Interest will still accrue during these private loan payment breaks.

As with federal loans, your employer may assist you with your private loans, especially if your skills are in demand. Also, many industries and professional associations offer student loan repayment assistance for firefighters, teachers, lawyers, and health care workers.

The Takeaway

Private student loan forgiveness is rare and has not been included in any sweeping moves to cancel student loan debt or provide relief. Borrowers of private student loans may be able to refinance and get a better rate or work with their lender if they’re struggling.

SoFi refinances both federal and private student loans. There is no cost or prepayment penalty. Deferment and forbearance plans are available.

Looking to lower your monthly student loan payment? Refinancing may be one way to do it — by extending your loan term, getting a lower interest rate than what you currently have, or both. (Please note that refinancing federal loans makes them ineligible for federal forgiveness and protections. Also, lengthening your loan term may mean paying more in interest over the life of the loan.) SoFi student loan refinancing offers flexible terms that fit your budget.


With SoFi, refinancing is fast, easy, and all online. We offer competitive fixed and variable rates.


Student Loan Refinancing
If you are a federal student loan borrower you should take time now to prepare for your payments to restart, including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. (You may pay more interest over the life of the loan if you refinance with an extended term.) Please note that once you refinance federal student loans, you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans, such as the SAVE Plan, or extended repayment plans.



Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

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Can You Convert Private Student Loans to Federal Student Loans?

Can You Convert Private Student Loans to Federal Student Loans?

Since private student loans are held by a private bank or lender, you can’t refinance private student loans to federal loans.

The reverse, however, is possible. You can refinance private and federal student loans into a new private student loan with a new, ideally lower, interest rate. When you refinance federal student loans, it’s important to understand you lose access to federal benefits and protections.

Here’s what to know about why you can’t convert private student loans to federal loans, how you can combine both into a new refinanced loan, and how to make the choice that’s right for you.

Transferring Private Student Loans to Federal Loans

It isn’t possible to refinance private student loans to federal loans since private loans can only be held and owned by private financial institutions. Your federal student loans, on the other hand, can be converted into a private loan.

Although private and federal loans serve the same purpose — to finance your education — they differ in significant ways. One of the biggest distinctions is that private loans are not eligible for federal programs and benefits.

For example, federal student loan mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic offered automatic protection for federal borrowers. All federal student loans were put on administrative forbearance so that loan payments were paused without penalty. Also, borrowers weren’t responsible for any interest that accrued during this time.

While the payment pause came to an end in fall 2023, federal student loans are eligible for a number of other federal benefits, including income-driven repayment plans, deferment options, and forgiveness programs like Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Teacher Loan Forgiveness.

Since private student loans don’t come from the Department of Education, however, they do not qualify for these federal programs — and there’s no way to make them eligible.

Recommended: Types of Federal Student Loans

How to Combine Private and Federal Student Loans

While there’s no way you can refinance private student loans to federal loans, the reverse is possible: You can convert a federal loan to a private loan to combine your federal and private student debt into a new private loan.

Refinancing

You can combine federal and private student debt by refinancing your federal student loans into a private loan. Refinancing is offered by a private lender and requires a credit check. This repayment option lets you refinance existing federal loans, private student loans, or a combination of both into a new private student loan.

The new refinancing lender pays your original loan(s) in full and creates one refinanced student loan for the total amount it paid on your behalf. Over time, you’ll repay your new lender your principal refinance amount, plus interest charges.

Overall, a student loan refinance can help you combine multiple loans into a single loan at a new rate and potentially better terms. It also results in one monthly payment. Depending on your credit score and other qualifying factors, it might help you access a lower interest rate.

Be aware that since a refinanced federal loan is no longer a part of the federal student loan system, you’re giving up federal benefits and protections if you refinance a federal student loan.

Recommended: Guide to Student Loan Refinancing

Consolidating

Federal student loans can be combined, or consolidated, through the federal Direct Loan program. When you consolidate your federal loans, they are combined into a single new loan with a new interest rate that’s an average of all of your existing federal loan rates, rounded up to the nearest eighth of a percent.

Some reasons to consolidate your federal loans include simplifying your payments and qualifying for federal student loan programs such as income-driven repayment plans or Public Service Loan Forgiveness (if your existing federal loans weren’t eligible for these programs to begin with).

Private loans are not eligible for federal loan consolidation. As mentioned earlier, you can only combine federal and private student loans together when you refinance your loans into a new private loan.

Benefits of Federal Student Loans

Although converting your federal student loans into a private loan might have its advantages, there are serious caveats to consider before moving forward. Ultimately, refinancing federal loans through a private lender means you’ll lose access to valuable federal benefits and protections.

Debt Forgiveness

A major benefit that federal student loans offer, compared to private student loans, is access to student debt forgiveness and cancellation. Depending on your personal situation, you might be able to have a large portion of your federal student debt forgiven.

Some programs offered for federal loans include:

•  Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). Borrowers who work full-time for a government entity or not-for-profit organization might be eligible for loan forgiveness. While working for a qualified employer, you must enroll in an income-driven repayment plan and make 120 qualifying payments toward your federal loans. Afterward, your remaining federal loan balance is forgiven.

•  Teacher Loan Forgiveness (TLF). Under TLF, educators who work full-time at an approved low-income school or service agency can earn up to $17,500 in forgiveness. You must agree to a five-year service contract and meet other requirements.

•  Perkins Loan Cancellation. If you have eligible Perkins Loans, you might be eligible for loan cancellation or discharge, depending on your employment service or unique circumstances.

Income-Driven Repayment

Federal student loan borrowers who are struggling to afford their standard 10-year monthly payments can explore one of the Department of Education’s income-driven repayment (IDR) plans.

There are four types of income-driven repayment:

•  Pay As You Earn (PAYE)

•  Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE)

•  Income-Based Repayment (IBR)

•  Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)

Each repayment plan calculates your monthly payment based on a percentage of your discretionary income and your family size. Some borrowers under an IDR plan may qualify for a $0 per month payment. Most of the plans offer a longer repayment period of 20 or 25 years, though the new SAVE plan will offer a 10-year term for borrowers who took out $12,000 or less starting in July 2024. After completing your repayment term, your remaining eligible federal loan balance is forgiven.

Understanding how income-based repayment works can help you gauge whether you’re willing to relinquish federal loan benefits for a private refinance loan.

Guaranteed Postponement

You might suddenly be hit with financial hardship, like being temporarily unemployed or experiencing an accident that inhibits your ability to make payments. In this stressful situation, federal student loans provide the option to request payment deferment or forbearance.

These federal protections pause your federal student loan payment requirement without penalty. During this time, interest still accrues and is added to your principal balance.

You’re ultimately responsible for repaying it back, as well as any interest that capitalizes when payments resume. However, this guaranteed postponement offers financial relief during difficult times.

Some private loans may offer deferment or forbearance options during times of financial hardship, but the options vary by lender.


💡 Quick Tip: Enjoy no hidden fees and special member benefits when you refinance student loans with SoFi.

How Private and Federal Student Loans Differ

To decide whether refinancing your federal loans into a private loan makes sense for you, it’s important to know how private student loans vs. federal student loans differ.

Federal Student Loans

Private Student Loans

Provided by the U.S. government. Provided by a private financial institution.
Most programs don’t require a credit check. Good credit, or a cosigner, is generally required.
Fixed interest rates. Fixed or variable rates offered.
Payments are deferred until you leave school or drop below half-time. Payments might be due while you’re enrolled in school, but this varies by lender.
Income-driven repayment options available. Repayment plans vary by lender.
Access to loan forgiveness or cancellation. Generally doesn’t offer loan forgiveness.
Offers interest subsidies for borrowers with financial need. Loan interest is typically not subsidized.
Offers extended deferment or forbearance. Rules on postponing payments vary by lender.

Recommended: Private vs. Federal Student Loans

Student Loan Refinancing With SoFi

If you have private student loans, refinancing can be advantageous if you qualify for a lower interest rate that reduces your overall education debt. Use a student loan refinancing calculator to estimate your savings.

Before refinancing a federal student loan, decide whether you might need to leverage government benefits, like income-driven repayment or loan forgiveness programs. You’ll lose these useful benefits by refinancing all of your federal loans.

Looking to lower your monthly student loan payment? Refinancing may be one way to do it — by extending your loan term, getting a lower interest rate than what you currently have, or both. (Please note that refinancing federal loans makes them ineligible for federal forgiveness and protections. Also, lengthening your loan term may mean paying more in interest over the life of the loan.) SoFi student loan refinancing offers flexible terms that fit your budget.


With SoFi, refinancing is fast, easy, and all online. We offer competitive fixed and variable rates.

FAQ

Is it possible to change private student loans to federal?

No, there is no way to change private student loans to federal loans. However, you can refinance your private and federal loans together, ideally to qualify for a lower rate or better loan terms. If you go this route, you will be changing your federal student loan(s) into a private loan.

Is it possible to change federal student loans to private?

Yes, you can change a federal student loan to a private student loan through refinancing. A private refinance lender will pay off your original federal loan, and you’ll have to make payments to your new private lender for the principal balance, plus interest. Changing your federal student loans to a private loan, however, will mean you lose access to federal repayment plans, forgiveness programs, and other protections.

How can you combine private and federal student loans?

You can combine private student loans and federal student loans with a refinance student loan. Student loan refinancing is provided by a private lender, so any federal loans you refinance will become private and you’ll lose the government benefits and protections you had under the federal loan system.


Photo credit: iStock/YayaErnst

Student Loan Refinancing
If you are a federal student loan borrower you should take time now to prepare for your payments to restart, including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. (You may pay more interest over the life of the loan if you refinance with an extended term.) Please note that once you refinance federal student loans, you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans, such as the SAVE Plan, or extended repayment plans.



SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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Do Student Loans Count as Income?

On top of sorting out whether you’re eligible for federal student loans and the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized loans, you may be wondering how student loans may impact your taxes and whether student loans count as income. In a nutshell, the answer is no, student loans are debt, and do not count as income.

Fellowships and other forms of financial grants, however, may be counted as income, depending on how the funds are spent. And loans that are forgiven have counted as income.

Read on for more about the tax implications of student loans, grants, and student loan repayment. Of course, this is just a helpful guide as you begin to explore the basics of student loans and taxes; always seek out a tax professional to help you with your specific situation.

Are Student Loans Taxable?

There are multiple types of student loans — each with their own unique terms. As noted earlier, though, student loans are not taxed as income.

This is true of other types of loans generally as well, like credit card spending, mortgages, and personal loans (unless the loan is forgiven) — basically most credit that needs to be repaid. The IRS considers student loans a form of debt — not income — therefore, it is not taxed.

The only time that student loans (or other types of debt) can be taxed is if they are forgiven during repayment. If you are eligible for a federal student loan forgiveness program and have met the requirements (which vary, and may include stipulations like making eligible payments for 20 to 25 years via an income-driven repayment plan or completing eligible public service work/payment requirements, and others), the remaining balance on your student loans (the amount forgiven) may be taxed as income, depending on the repayment plan. This could amount to a hefty tax bill.

Are Scholarships Taxable?

The high-level answer to this question is: it depends. There are many different forms of scholarships, grants, and fellowships that are awarded to students to cover the costs of studying and research. Some are need-based and some are merit-based. The basic difference between scholarships and loans is that a scholarship is given while a loan is borrowed. You won’t typically have to pay back a scholarship, but you do have to pay back a loan.

Most scholarships are not taxed when you are enrolled in a formal educational institution and the scholarship is directly used to cover the costs of tuition, fees, books, and supplies used for study.

There are some situations in which scholarships can be taxed, however. For instance, a scholarship can be taxed as income if you use it to cover what are considered “incidental” expenses related to your education such as travel, room and board, and supplementary equipment and supplies.

Another type of scholarship that can be taxed is a scholarship that has a service-related requirement to it. This frequently applies to scholarships for graduate students. If you are required to teach, provide research assistance, or perform other services as a condition of your scholarship, it can be taxed as income and you will be required to report the scholarship as part of your gross income.

(For more about which types of scholarships are considered income and what scholarship-related activities are taxable, check out IRS Publication 970 .)


💡 Quick Tip: Get flexible terms and competitive rates when you refinance your student loan with SoFi.

Do Student Loans Come with Any Tax Benefits?

Student loans aren’t usually taxable as income, and in fact, may come with a tax benefit that is meant to make repayment a little easier on borrowers investing in their education.

The Student Loan Interest Deduction allows you to deduct the amount of interest you paid on both federal and private student loans, up to a maximum of $2,500 per year. In order to be eligible to deduct the full amount, your modified adjusted gross income (AGI) must be $70,000 or less (or $145,000 for married couples filing jointly). The amount you’re allowed to deduct is gradually reduced if your modified AGI is more $70,000 but less than $85,000 (or more than $145,000 but less than $175,000 for married couples filing jointly. Income above these thresholds renders you ineligible for the deduction.

As a tax deduction, the amount deducted helps to lower your overall taxable income, potentially resulting in a lower tax bill or higher tax refund. This deduction can also help defray some of your repayment costs.

Are Employer Student Loan Payments Taxable?

An increasingly popular benefit offered in some workplaces is help with education costs and student loan repayment. Employers such as Aetna, Fidelity Investments, Google, and more offer student loan assistance programs to employees.

Currently, employers are allowed to contribute up to $5,250 toward employees’ qualified education costs tax-free. Payments or reimbursements above that amount are considered taxable income for the employee. It’s important to note that this special tax treatment is temporary, however, and expires December 31, 2025. After this date, the full amount of any employer contributions toward education expenses or student loan repayment will be taxed as income.

How Can I Make My Student Loan Repayment Easier?

The cost of a student loan comes in the form of the interest you pay each month on the balance owed. Consider this example: Say you have a $30,000 loan with a 7% interest rate. On the 10-year Standard Repayment Plan, you would pay roughly $11,800 in interest in addition to repaying the $30,000 principal.

So what can make repayment easier, other than the student loan interest deduction? One option is to refinance your student loans with a private lender.

If you already have private and/or federal student loans, you may be able to refinance your student loans at a lower interest rate than you currently are paying. If you are eligible to refinance your student loans, you could shorten your term length, qualify to lower the interest rate on your loans, or possibly lower your monthly payment (by extending your term). But there can be some drawbacks to think about.

For instance, federal student loans come with several benefits and protections such as forbearance, deferment, income-driven repayment plans, and certain forgiveness programs that private loans do not offer. If you think you might need some of these benefits, or if you are eligible for student loan forgiveness, it might not be the right time to refinance.

However, if you have a steady income and good cash flow — along with other aspects of your financial picture that are appealing to a lender — and you are ready to focus on paying down your loans, refinancing might be the right solution for you.

SoFi is a leader in the student loan space, offering refinancing options to help you save on the loans you already have.

The Takeaway

Generally, student loans are not considered income, so they are not taxed. The exception is when some or all of your student loan balance is forgiven. In some cases, the IRS may count the canceled debt as taxable income.

Educational grants and scholarships, on the other hand, may or may not count as income. Typically, they are taxed when they are spent on expenses outside of tuition and fees, such as room and board and travel.

Looking to lower your monthly student loan payment? Refinancing may be one way to do it — by extending your loan term, getting a lower interest rate than what you currently have, or both. (Please note that refinancing federal loans makes them ineligible for federal forgiveness and protections. Also, lengthening your loan term may mean paying more in interest over the life of the loan.) SoFi student loan refinancing offers flexible terms that fit your budget.


With SoFi, refinancing is fast, easy, and all online. We offer competitive fixed and variable rates.


SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility-criteria for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


Student Loan Refinancing
If you are a federal student loan borrower you should take time now to prepare for your payments to restart, including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. (You may pay more interest over the life of the loan if you refinance with an extended term.) Please note that once you refinance federal student loans, you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans, such as the SAVE Plan, or extended repayment plans.



Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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Finding Jobs That Pay Off Student Loans

Jobs that help pay off a portion of student loans are becoming more common and for a good reason. The average federal student loan borrower has over $37,000 in student loan debt, while borrowers with private student loans owe nearly $55,000, on average.

Companies that help to repay a portion of student loans are in the minority, so you may have to do some research to get student loan assistance as a benefit. To help you, here’s what to know about what’s available, companies that offer this perk, and what you can do to try and negotiate for it.

Types of Job-Based Student Loan Assistance Programs

There are two types of student loan assistance you may receive through an employer: repayment assistance programs where your employer is a participant and repayment assistance benefits your employer offers directly.

Repayment Assistance Programs

Depending on your career field, you may be eligible to receive student loan assistance through a federal or state program. There are several programs for those working in public service careers, like the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and Teacher Loan Forgiveness programs, which cancel existing balances for eligible borrowers who meet certain requirements.

That said, these programs typically require you to commit to working in a specific job or a certain area (such as medicine, law, or military service, for example) for a set number of years, which can be challenging if you don’t enjoy the job or want to pursue a different career path somewhere else.

But if you fulfill your service obligation, you may get as much as your full student loan balance is forgiven.

Recommended: A Guide to Military Student Loan Forgiveness

Repayment Assistance Benefits

At the start of 2022, about 7% of employers in the U.S. offered student loan repayment assistance as a benefit, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. The terms of repayment assistance benefits can vary by employer. For example, some may offer to match a portion of the employee’s payments and others may simply pay a set amount toward an employee’s loan balance each month.

The amount you receive from a repayment assistance benefit may be less than what you might get through a government repayment assistance program. But you may not need to commit to a service obligation to qualify, and you may be able to negotiate how much you’ll receive.


💡 Quick Tip: Get flexible terms and competitive rates when you refinance your student loan with SoFi.

Types of Jobs That Offer Student Loan Forgiveness

In order to qualify for certain types of loan forgiveness, borrowers may need to meet certain employment requirements. Here are some of the jobs that could potentially allow someone to qualify for federal student loan forgiveness programs.

1. Federal Agency Employee

The federal student loan repayment program exists for employees of the federal government, and allows a portion of their federal student loans to be paid off each year. The benefit permits for up to $10,000 in payments each calendar year, not to exceed a total of $60,000 for any one employee.

In order to qualify for this student loan repayment assistance, the employee is required to sign onto a minimum three-year contract with the agency. If they leave the agency early, they’ll need to repay any benefits received.

2. Public Service Worker

If you work full-time in the public service sector for a qualifying organization, such as the government or a non-profit, you may qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).

To pursue PSLF, borrowers need to have Direct loans and be enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan. (If you have other types of federal loans, such as Perkins loans, you’ll need to consolidate them into a Direct loan to qualify.) Forgiveness is awarded after making 120 qualifying payments and certifying all employers.

3. Medical Field

The Association of American Medical Colleges maintains a database with information on loan assistance programs for doctors by state.

Medical professionals who work in certain underserved areas may also qualify for loan forgiveness through the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program. In this program, medical professionals must commit to working for at least two years at an NHSC-approved site in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA).

Refinancing medical school student loans may be another option to consider for medical professionals who are not pursuing any loan forgiveness programs. While refinancing would eliminate loans from any federal forgiveness programs, it could potentially allow borrowers to secure a more competitive interest rate.

4. Automotive Professionals

Professionals in the automotive industry may qualify for loan forgiveness through the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Loan Forgiveness Program. To be eligible, you must work for a SEMA member business and have at least $2,000 in outstanding debt, among other qualifications.

5. Lawyer

In addition to PSLF, there are other lawyer-specific programs that provide assistance to lawyers paying off student loan debt. These include the Department of Justice Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program or John R. Justice (JRJ) Program.

6. Teacher

Student loan forgiveness for teachers is available. Teachers who work in special education are considered highly qualified teachers or work in underserved areas may qualify for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. The amount of loan forgiveness available is dependent on the teacher’s area of specialty and can be either up to $17,500 or up to $5,000.

7. Peace Corps

Peace Corps volunteers may be eligible to defer their loans or pursue PSLF. Additionally, while on a qualifying repayment plan, payments could be as low as $0 per month while volunteering.

8. Veterinarian

Veterinarians who work in underserved areas may qualify for up to $25,000 in student loan repayment assistance through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program. Eligible veterinarians must agree to serve in a NIFA-designated veterinarian shortage situation for a period of three years to qualify.

15 Major Companies that Repay Student Loans

Hundreds of large and small employers offer jobs that pay off student loans, but it’s not always easy to find out which ones provide the benefit. To help you get started, here are 15 well-known companies that repay student loans.

1. Abbott Laboratories

The company’s Freedom 2 Save program functions a bit differently than other repayment assistance benefits in that it combines efforts to pay off student loan debt and save for retirement.

Full- and part-time employees who qualify for the company’s 401(k) plan and contribute at least 2% of their eligible pay toward student loan repayment will receive a 5% contribution to their 401(k) account. Employee contributions to their 401(k) contributions aren’t required to receive these funds.

2. Aetna

In addition to a tuition reimbursement program, healthcare company Aetna also matches student loan payments for eligible employees who meet certain requirements. For full-time employees, the program matches student loan payments up to $2,000 per year, with a lifetime maximum of up to $10,000 for qualifying loans. For part-time employees, the program matches up to $1,000 a year, with a lifetime maximum of $5,000.

3. Ally Financial

Financial services company Ally provides $100 per month toward student loan payments, with a lifetime maximum cap of $10,000. The company also reimburses tuition up to $10,000 per year to help employees keep educational debt to a minimum.

4. Chegg

Education company Chegg has paid out more than $1 million toward employee student loan debt through its Equity for Education benefit. For entry-level employees through manager level, those who have worked at the company for at least 2 years receive up to $5,000 annually. Employees at the director or vice-president level can receive up to $3,000 annually.

5. Estee Lauder

The beauty company provides employees with $100 per month in student loan assistance, up to a lifetime maximum of $10,000.

6. Fidelity

As an employee of the investment brokerage firm, you may be eligible to receive up to $15,000 toward your student loan payments.

7. Google

Google matches up to $2,500 in loan payments per employee each year.

8. Hulu

Streaming service Hulu pays up to $1,200 a year per employee to match their student loan payments.

9. Live Nation

Entertainment company Live Nation Live Nation matches employee contributions of up to $100 per month, or $1,200 a year. The lifetime maximum is $6,000 in benefits. Employees must be employed with the company for at least six months to qualify.

10. New York Life

New York Life’s student loan assistance program, Vault Pay, contributes $170 per month over five years toward student loans that are in good standing. In other words, employees can receive up to $10,200 while enrolled in the program.

11. Nvidia

If you’ve graduated within the last three years, Nvidia will match your student loan payments dollar for dollar up to $3500 per month. The lifetime cap is $30,000 in assistance. To be eligible, you must be a full-time or part-time U.S. employee working 20 hours or more per week.

12. Penguin Random House

New York Life’s student loan assistance program, Vault Pay, contributes $170 per month over five years toward student loans that are in good standing. In other words, employees can receive up to $10,200 while enrolled in the program.

13. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)

As a participating associate or senior associate, you can receive $1,200 in student loan payments each year. The company estimates that this benefit can help to reduce student loan principal and interest by up to $10,000, and shorten loan payoff by up to three years.

14. SoFi

As an employee with SoFi, you’ll get $200 each month in student loan repayment assistance. The company also provides free financial classes.

15. Staples

Eligible employees for the Staples student loan assistance program include active, full-time U.S. associates with at least one outstanding loan obligation. Participants must also have obtained or are in the process of receiving a degree from an accredited institution. The company pays $100 per month toward loan principal for 36 months.

How Is Student Loan Assistance Taxed?

If you receive student loan assistance or cancellation, it’s important to understand the tax consequences. Depending on the situation, you could be responsible for a tax bill.

The IRS typically considers canceled debt to be taxable income. That includes most student loan debt forgiveness or discharge, except for PSLF. However, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 exempts borrowers who are working toward loan forgiveness from having their forgiven balances taxed if their loans were discharged between January 1, 2021, and December 31, 2025. This only applied to federal taxes, though, and some states may still require forgiven student loans to be taxed as income.

As for employer-sponsored assistance programs, a temporary pandemic-era provision allows employers to contribute up to $5,250 per year in tax-free funds toward qualified education costs for employees. Any contributions above that amount are considered taxable income for the employee. However, this special tax treatment expires December 31, 2025, after which any amount of employer payments or reimbursements for education expenses or student loan repayment will be taxed as income.



💡 Quick Tip: Refinancing could be a great choice for working graduates who have higher-interest graduate PLUS loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and/or private loans.

Negotiating a Student Loan Repayment Benefit

If you’re looking for a job, keep an eye out for companies that repay student loans as an employee benefit. If you can’t find one, you can still try to negotiate the benefit into your total compensation. Here are some ways to do it.

Doing Your Research

Resources such as Payscale and Glassdoor can help give you an idea of the salary and benefits that may be available from various companies. Look at what the company you’re interested in typically offers as well as what you might get with a similar position somewhere else.

If anything, this process can give you a better idea of what you’re worth. But it will also give you a benchmark that you can use to negotiate for student loan repayment benefits, along with other aspects of your compensation.

Making Your Interests Clear

Helping a potential employer understand why student loan repayment is important to you can help set the stage for the entire conversation.

In addition to salary, employers can consider several other factors to make up your total compensation. So knowing what’s most important to you can help them make a more attractive offer.

Asking for a Signing Bonus Instead of Monthly Payments

While a signing bonus isn’t specifically designed as a student loan repayment benefit, you can use it that way. In fact, making a lump sum payment toward your student loans could help you accelerate your student loan debt repayment timeline.

Recommended: How to Negotiate Your Signing Bonus

Asking for the Opportunity to Revisit the Request in the Future

If you can’t manage to persuade a potential employer to provide you with student loan assistance, that may not be the end of it. You could ask for the chance to talk about your compensation again in six months or a year.

During that time, you may be able to prove to your employer that it’s worth the investment on their part. Or you may have planted a seed for the employer to create a student loan repayment benefit for all employees.

Making Student Loan Repayment a Priority

Whether or not you can find jobs that pay off student loans, you can still make it a priority to eliminate your student debt as quickly as possible. A student loan repayment assistance benefit can help you achieve that goal, but it can’t do it on its own.

As such, it’s essential to consider other options to save money, such as refinancing your student loans. While refinancing can be a helpful option for some borrowers, it won’t make sense for everyone. If federal student loans are refinanced, they’ll lose eligibility for federal programs and benefits, such as PSLF or income-driven repayment plans.

If you qualify, you may be able to reduce your interest rate or your monthly payment. With a lower interest rate you could potentially save money over the life of your loan.

The Takeaway

Many companies offer student loan repayment assistance as a part of their employee benefits package. Some jobs might also offer the opportunity for the borrower to apply for student loan forgiveness. For example, there are programs available for medical professionals, teachers, and those that work in the government or non-profit sector.

Another opportunity for managing student loans is refinancing, which could allow qualifying borrowers to lower their interest rates — making the loan more affordable in the long run. If you’re interested in refinancing, consider the options available at SoFi.

Looking to lower your monthly student loan payment? Refinancing may be one way to do it — by extending your loan term, getting a lower interest rate than what you currently have, or both. (Please note that refinancing federal loans makes them ineligible for federal forgiveness and protections. Also, lengthening your loan term may mean paying more in interest over the life of the loan.) SoFi student loan refinancing offers flexible terms that fit your budget.


With SoFi, refinancing is fast, easy, and all online. We offer competitive fixed and variable rates.

FAQ

What careers pay off student loans fastest?

High-paying jobs may help borrowers repay their student loans quickly. However, some jobs may allow borrowers to pursue a loan forgiveness program. While these programs may not expedite the repayment process, they could help make student loan repayment more manageable.

What companies pay off student loans?

Companies including SoFi, Fidelity, Penguin Random House, and Nvidia all offer student loan repayment assistance programs. Specific benefits vary by company.

What kind of jobs qualify for student loan forgiveness?

The type of job that qualifies for student loan forgiveness may vary depending on the program. Jobs in the government or non-profit sector may qualify a borrower for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Teachers may qualify for Teacher Student Loan Forgiveness programs. Some medical professionals may qualify for programs such as the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


Student Loan Refinancing
If you are a federal student loan borrower you should take time now to prepare for your payments to restart, including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. (You may pay more interest over the life of the loan if you refinance with an extended term.) Please note that once you refinance federal student loans, you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans, such as the SAVE Plan, or extended repayment plans.



Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For information on licenses, see NMLS Consumer Access (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org ). The Student Debt Navigator Tool and 529 Savings and Selection Tool are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser. For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal housing lender.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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