Student Loan Repayment Assistance Programs – Another Tool to Assist with Repayment Counseling

Melissa Maichle .

The recent Supreme Court decision blocking the Biden Administration’s Student Loan Forgiveness plan has forced many financial aid advisors to pivot their messaging in assisting students who are desperate for alternatives. This is especially the case for those preparing students and their families for student loan repayment to resume in October. In effect, for most borrowers, the road ahead to repayment will be overwhelming and fraught with significant concern and uncertainty given the three-year pause period that is now sunsetting.

It is worth noting, however, that Biden’s proposed plan was only one of many other student loan repayment assistance programs currently available. In effect, various legal state, employer and career-based student loan repayment assistance programs continue to exist to alleviate some of the financial burden and stress associated with student loan repayment. Some of these, however, are oftentimes underutilized, simply because individuals are not aware of their existence. To that end, this article explores some of these programs, emphasizing the importance of including them as a part of your advising toolkit.

Public-Service Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
In a previous blog post (Public Service Loan Forgiveness: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow) we shared a summary of the main concepts needed to understand the federal Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. With the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Updates, there was a Temporary Expanded waiver provided last year, which extended the benefits of PSLF as an opportunity to thousands of borrowers. This program was created to assist borrowers in repayment who work for an eligible employer in an eligible field to receive loan forgiveness after 10 years of service while making 10- years’ worth of eligible payments in an acceptable income-based repayment plan. A common concern that is seldom discussed, however, is that Parent PLUS loan borrowers are only able to receive consideration for PSLF if they consolidate their loans into a consolidation loan and then enroll into an income-contingent repayment plan. This plan, however, is not as generous in lowering the monthly repayment amounts that are due from borrowers when compared to the other income-driven repayment plans. Additionally, if a parent who works for an eligible PSLF employer did not apply for TPSLF during the temporary waiver window (which ended October 3, 2022), their prior payments made towards their Parent PLUS Loan before consolidation would not count towards their eligible repayment counts for forgiveness.

Income-Based Student Loan Repayment Forgiveness

For those who are not currently working for a PSLF-eligible employer, income-based repayment forgiveness is a solid option, especially considering the newly proposed SAVE repayment plan that is scheduled to replace the REPAYE program.  Being one of the more widely utilized forms of forgiveness, income-based repayment forgiveness provides the opportunity for borrowers to receive forgiveness consideration after 20-25 years of on-time payments for their remaining balance, through an assortment of income-based repayment plans that require lower monthly payments than the typical standardized, graduated or extended repayment options. An important caveat regarding this option is that it does require annual re-certification. Additionally, this plan essentially forces borrowers to retain their loan balances for the length of the repayment agreement, which might impact their ability to apply for a mortgage or other large credit-line loans. And, as mentioned previously, borrowers who have Parent PLUS Loans in their account only qualify for an income-contingent repayment plan, which is not as generous in lowering monthly payments as the other plans. That being said, there is a work-around that the Department of Education is aware of, called the double-consolidation loophole, where parent borrowers complete an electronic consolidation to transform one of their PLUS Loans into a consolidation loan, and then request a secondary paper consolidation to transform the other set of Parent PLUS loans into a separate consolidation loan. Once that is completed, they can then consolidate the two consolidation loans into a third overarching consolidation loan in order to remove the PLUS loan code designation from the final consolidation loan, thus granting them access to the other income-based repayment plan options. According to the most recent Income Driven Repayment Improvement announcement, however, this loophole will be closed by the Department of Education by June 30, 2025.

Lastly, it is worth noting that borrowers who were steered into shorter-term forbearances, which impacted their number of trackable on-time payments on an income-driven repayment plan, are able to seek an account review by filing a complaint with the FSA Ombudsman at

State Loan Repayment Assistance Programs

Outside of the federal student loan repayment assistance options, it is worth noting that many states also offer repayment assistance programs for their residents. Each state is different in the type of programs that they offer and the scope of assistance they provide. However, a common factor associated with each of these is that the programs exist to provide assistance to borrowers who work in public service fields, such as teaching, healthcare, legal assistance, or other high-need fields that support the state. An important distinction to make between these and the federal programs is that with most of the state-offered options, the length of time for service required to receive assistance tends to be substantially lower than the service requirements listed for PSLF or the other federal income-based repayment programs. In fact, some states only require one to three years of service to determine eligibility with continued support provided on an annual basis. For more information regarding the options available through your state of residence, you should review your state’s Department of Education website.

Employer-funded and Trade-Association Loan Repayment Assistance

Aside from PSLF, it is important to remind borrowers that multiple employers and Fortune 500 companies are starting to offer their own loan repayment assistance programs as a part of their employee benefit packages. These programs differ from employer to employer. The best resource to receive more information regarding these programs is the HR department of the borrower’s employer. Similarly, several trade associations also offer loan forgiveness programs for members who work for an eligible employer.
Additionally, it is worth noting that there are a variety of other loan assistance and loan forgiveness programs specifically provided for teachers, military service members, AmeriCorps members, and Nurse Corps members, to name a few.

In conclusion, student loan repayment assistance programs may offer a lifeline to struggling borrowers, providing them with the tools and support needed to restart their repayment journey in a way that lowers their overall debt burden. As you can tell, however, the landscape related to the type of programs that exist to assist borrowers is vast and varied. For assistance navigating these options, or to discuss how these options can assist your team in providing more tailored supports to your specific student populations, feel free to contact us at for further guidance.