People who’ve had their student debt forgiven give their advice

Personal Finance

Matt Tremel

Saxophonist, U.S. Navy

The Education Department forgave Tremel’s $14,000 in student debt earlier this year. “I was ecstatic,” he said.

His advice might sound a little cynical. “You can’t trust anybody who tells you something,” he said.

For example, Tremel verified, via the Education Department’s website, all of the information he received from his lender. He says you should do the same.

The public service loan forgiveness requirements:

  • Your loans must be federal direct loans.
  • Your employer must be a government organization at any level, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization or some other type of not-for-profit organization that provides public service.
  • By the end, you need to have made 120 qualifying, on-time payments in an income-driven repayment plan or the standard repayment plan.

Trevor Milliron

Professor, Lee University

Getting his more than $135,000 in student debt forgiven this year felt as good as getting his Ph.D. two decades ago, Milliron said. “My wife and I cried,” he said.

Milliron recommends being as “proactive as you possibly can.” The first time you make sure you’re eligible for the forgiveness, he said, shouldn’t be when you apply for it after 10 years.

“There are too many things that can go wrong,” he said. “You need to stay on top of it.”

Read and reread the program’s requirements, he added. He picked up a lot of information from non-profits trying to help borrowers. (The Institute of Student Loan Advisors is an organization, for example, that helps student loan borrowers with free advice).

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