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Should You Apply to Have Your Student Loans Forgiven?

Should You Apply to Have Your Student Loans Forgiven? Student loan debt nearly tripled in the last decade thanks to many attending for-profit colleges. For hundreds of thousands buried in student loan debt, a little known 1994 program called “Borrower Defense” or “Defense to Repayment” sponsored by the Education Department offers a lifeline. The program is available for those students who obtained loans from the government’s Direct Loan program. “The law says students are entitled to forgiveness of existing debt—and, possibly, reimbursement of any repaid loans—if they can show their school violated state law in getting them to take out the debt. (An example might be if a school lied in its advertisements about how many of its graduates landed jobs.) However, it’s not clear what documentation the borrower needs to prove fraud.” Thousands have applied to have their loans expunged under the program. In the last six months of 2015, for example, 7,500 former students applied to have $164 million in student loans expunged. The U.S. Education Department has already agreed to cancel nearly $28 million in debt and indicated many more will likely get forgiveness. Assume that you recently graduated from a state university. You took the required courses for your bachelor’s degree and excelled in your studies. You made the Dean’s List each semester of your last two years and interned for a social services organization in your community. You hoped you’d be able to work in your chosen field of psychology and be able to pay off the debt a few years after graduation. Like many students, you paid for the majority of your education with student loans. Three years after graduation, your career has not turned out as expected. Instead of working in your chosen field of psychology, you have a low paying job at a retail chain and wait tables on weekends to make ends meet. You weren’t aware that psychology positions required a graduate degree. Your student loan debt remains unpaid, and you recently heard about the borrower defense program. You are considering whether or not to apply for the Borrower Defense program.

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