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Getting Rid of Student Loans Without Actually Paying Is Hard, but Not Impossible

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Feb. 15 2022, Published 5:48 a.m. ET

While many student loan borrowers were hoping that the student loan debt for the U.S. would be erased, that's still not the case. And with the federal student loan repayment moratorium nearing its expiration date, borrowers are looking for the best options to handle their debt.

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However, you can't just pretend your student loans aren't there and stop paying them off, as the interest will just pile up. Luckily, there are some ways to get rid of your student loans without actually paying for them.

Want to not pay student loans back? First, look for student loan forgiveness programs

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Student loan forgiveness programs are a great way to not pay back your student loan debt at all, and some exist already (no thanks to Joe Biden), though these forgiveness programs can be difficult to be accepted into. This is unfortunate, seeing how student loan debt in the U.S. reached a total of $1.6 trillion last year, according to NerdWallet. The average debt for bachelor’s degree holders is $28,950, while the average for graduate degree holders is $71,000.

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If you want to avoid paying back student loans, try applying for jobs that offer forgiveness plans

Some jobs offer access to forgiveness plans that can help. These plans include:

PSLF (Public Service Loan Forgiveness)

The PSLF plan is for those who work full-time for the government at the federal, state, or local level, or a not-for-profit organization. These plans typically require 120 payments, and if the debt isn’t paid off after these have been made, the rest of the debt is erased.

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Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program

Teachers can have up to $17,500 of federal student loan debt forgiven, though only those who teach math and science at a secondary school. Those who don’t meet that criteria are only eligible for up to $5,000 of forgiveness. Teachers must have a bachelor’s degree and state certification to be eligible to apply. Note that this is one of the toughest forgiveness programs to get into, even if you meet all of the eligibility criteria.

Your best bet might just be an income-driven repayment plan

Income-driven repayment plans are programs where loan payments are based on a percentage of the borrower’s discretionary income. There are four types: REPAYE, PAYE, IBR, and ICR. These plans widen the duration of your loan term but make the payments more affordable. They typically last 20 to 25 years, and if the borrower makes consistent payments throughout that period and still has debt left over, that debt is forgiven.

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The only downside of this plan is that you have to re-certify your income every year. We'll just have to keep our fingers crossed that student loan debt is canceled soon.

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