Student Loan Relief and Forgiveness

Student loans have become one of the largest sources of debt for Americans over the years. In 2020, Forbes reported that student loan debt across the United States was estimated at about $1.768 trillion. The data shows there are currently 45 million borrowers in the United States who are unable to make their student loan payments. Many of them with debts averaging at $29,200, which is an 2 % increase from the prior year according to the Institute for College Access and Success. With so much debt and not a lot of room in the job market, millions of borrowers have been forced to default because they feel as if they have no other options.  

Many borrowers with student loan debt face unforgiving collection tactics from student loan companies which includes seizing your tax refunds, garnishing your wages and even attaching your bank account. Some of these tactics violate consumer laws and can be debilitating to live with. For these reasons, it’s highly suggested you speak to an Ohio student loan and bankruptcy attorney if you are behind on your student loan payments. An experienced attorney can analyze your financial position and determine all your available legal options.

Cincinnati Student Loan Lawyer in Ohio

If you’re in need of legal representation, the Cincinnati bankruptcy lawyer Eric Steiden and his team are dedicated to helping borrowers grappling with student debt. Attorney Steiden has over 26 years of experience assisting people with their debt in an effective and efficient manner. Both him and his staff are on top of evolving student loan laws as well as various debt relief options for borrowers facing all types of financial difficulty. With his guidance, you can finally tackle your debt and move on with your life.

You can get in contact with the team at Steiden Law Offices by calling for your first consultation free. Steiden Law Offices has locations in Covington, Cincinnati and Florence, but serves clients throughout Pendleton County, Bracken County, Robertson County, Mason County,  in Kentucky, along with those who reside Shelby County, Champaign County, Clark County, Brown County, and Adams County. 

Overview of Student Loan Relief in Ohio 

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The Difference Between Federal and Private Student Loans

Student loans can vary depending on the originator, but all student loans are categorized as private or federal. When a student loan is funded by the federal government it’s considered “federal.” These loans have various repayment options available that can help you catch up on your debt. Loans funded by a bank or credit union, however, is considered a “private” loan. Often these loans have high-interest rates and aren’t flexible with payment arrangements. Many people who don’t keep up with their private loan payments face serious negative consequences.

The differences between federal and private student loans include: 

  • Interest Rates – Federal loans have fixed interest rates, which are often much lower than private student loan rates. In addition, private student loan rates are often variable and can even be three times that of a federal loan.
  • Entering Repayment – When you have a federal loan you don’t have to submit payments until you graduate, leave school or take less credits than a part-time student. Private loans, however, may enter repayment status while you are still in school.
  • Cosigner – You don’t need a credit check or specific credit score to qualify for a federal loan. Many private loans, on the other hand, often require established credit and interest rates often will depend on your current credit score.
  • Consolidation – Multiple federal loans can be combined into one loan for one simple payment. Private loans usually cannot be consolidated.
  • Prepayment Penalties – You can repay a federal loan at any time, but a private loan may have a prepayment penalty fee in their contract. The fee is designed to discourage borrowers from paying off their debt early, so you are forced to pay high interest rates over time.

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Federal Student Loan Forgiveness and Relief

If you only have federal student loans, then you may have some options available for forgiveness. The government offers several programs that extend forgiveness and relief to those who have direct federal loans. Each of these programs come with a specific set of terms as well as an application process. The main programs for federal student loan forgiveness include the following.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

The government will forgive your remaining balance on your direct loans if you participate and complete the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. The program is designed for borrowers who are employed by a U.S. federal, state, local or tribal government or not-for-profit organization. However, having a certain profession isn’t the only requirement. To qualify for PSLF, you must do have completed the following:

  • Work full-time for a U.S. federal, state, local, or tribal government or not-for-profit organization.
  • Only have direct loans (or consolidate other federal loans into a direct loan);
  • Have repaid your loans under an income-driven repayment plan; and
  • Have made 120 qualifying payments so far

In addition, those under the PSLF program must submit an Employment Certification Form annually or when they change employers. You can also qualify for PSFL if you serve full time for AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps, but employers of labor unions, partisan political organizations, and for-profit organizations cannot qualify. 

You can send your completed PSLF forms, with your employer’s certification, to FedLoan Servicing the U.S. Department of Education’s federal loan servicer for the PSLF program. The address for FedLoan can be found below:

U.S. Department of Education
FedLoan Servicing
P.O. Box 69184
Harrisburg, PA 17106-9184 

Income-Driven Repayment Option

The majority of federal loans are eligible for at least one income-driven repayment plan. The purpose of an income-driven repayment plan is to set your monthly loan payment at an amount that is intended to be affordable based on your income and the size of your family. That means if your income is low enough, your payment could be as low as $0 a month. There are four types of income-driven repayment plans, which includes:

  • Income-Based Repayment Plan (IBR Plan)
  • Income-Contingent Repayment Plan (ICR Plan)
  • Pay as You Earn Repayment Plan (PAYE Plan)
  • Revised Pay as You Earn Repayment Plan (REPAYE Plan)

Each plan will calculate you’re your monthly income differently depending on the specifics of the plan. The chart below shows how payment amounts are determined under each income-driven plan.


Income-Driven Repayment Plan


Monthly Payment Amount




Generally, 10 % of discretionary income.



Generally, 10 % of your discretionary income, but never more than the 10-year Standard Repayment Plan Amount



Generally, 10 % of your discretionary income if you’re a new borrower on or after July 1, 2014. Never more than your 10-year Standard Repayment Plan amount.

Generally, 15 $ of your discretionary income if you’re not a new borrower on or after July 1, 2014. Never more than the 10-year Standard Repayment Amount.



20 % of your discretionary income or what you would pay on a repayment plan with a fixed payment over the course of 12 years adjusted according to income. Whichever is less.


Eligibility for an income-driven repayment plan depends on the type of program you choose. For a REPAYE Plan, any borrower with eligible federal student loans can make payments under this plan. PAYE and IBR plans have eligibility requirements you must meet to qualify. Eligibility depends on if the payment you would be required to make under PAYE or IBR is less than what you would pay under the Standard Repayment Plan with a 10-year repayment period. 

Most borrowers meet PAYE or IBR requirements because their federal loan debt is higher than their annual discretionary income or represents a significant portion of their annual income. If that isn’t the case for you, then it’s likely you wouldn’t benefit from having a monthly payment amount based on your income. Therefore, you will likely not qualify.  

Additionally, if you want to qualify for the PAYE plan you must also be a new borrower. That means you cannot have an outstanding balance on a Direct Loan or FEEL Program loan when you received a Direct Loan or FEEL Program loan on or after October 1, 2007. Also, you must have received a disbursement of a Direct Loan on or after October 1, 2011

Borrowers with eligible federal student loans can make payments under the ICR plan. The plan is available as an income-driven repayment option for parent PLUS loan borrowers. Parent borrowers can consolidate their Direct PLUS Loans or Federal PLUS Loans into a Direct Consolidation loan. From there, they can repay the new consolidation loan under the ICR plan.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program

Teachers who have taught full-time for five complete and consecutive academic years in a low-income school or educational service agency could be eligible for forgiveness. The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program allows teachers who qualify to save up to $17,500 on their Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans as well as Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans. However, teachers must fulfill certain requirements to qualify. These include:

  • No outstanding balance on Direct Loans or Federal Family Education Loan (FEEL) program loans as of October 1, 1998 or on the date you obtained a Direct Loan or FEEL program after October 1, 1998.
  • Must be employed full-time as a highly qualified teacher for five complete and consecutive years. One of those years must have been after the 1997-98 academic year.
  • Must be employed at an elementary school, secondary school or educational service agency that serves low-income students.
  • The loans you’re seeking forgiveness for must have been made before the end of your five academic years of teaching.

The term “highly qualified teacher” means you must meet basic requirements that all teachers fulfill to be considered highly qualified. Secondary and elementary school teachers may have additional requirements to meet depending on if they are new to the teaching profession.

To be a highly qualified teacher, you must:

  • Obtained at least a bachelor’s degree;
  • Received a full state certification as a teacher; and
  • Not had certification or license requirements waived on a temporary, emergency or provisional basis.

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Private Student Loan Relief and Forgiveness in Ohio

Federal student loans have various repayment options, but that’s not the case for most private loans. Unfortunately, a private loan repayment option isn’t as clear cut and depends on the originator of the loan. This is because private student loans can be borrowed from a variety of private financial institutions, so each have their own terms and repayment options.

The best way to find out how to receive private student loan forgiveness is to contact an experienced student loan attorney. They can get in contact with your lender to learn your repayment options and then from there determine the best legal route to go. That way you have someone with extensive financial knowledge on your side and you can attempt to save every penny you can while paying off your loan.

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Additional Resources

Ohio Student Loan Center – Visit the official website for the Ohio Attorney General, Dave Yost, and learn about the different student loan forgiveness plans offered by the state of Ohio. Access the site to see resources, information and tools for those struggling with student debt.

Federal Student Aid – Visit the official website for the Federal Student Aid to learn more about their student loan forgiveness programs. Access the site to learn more about student loan forgiveness, differences between cancellation and discharge, as well as the different types of forgiveness offered by the federal government.

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Student Debt Attorney in Hamilton County, OH

Are you drowning in student debt with no idea how you can pay it off? If so, then we urge you to get in contact with the Cincinnati debt attorneys at Steiden Law Offices. Eric Steiden and his team have assisted numerous people with their student loans and any other form of indebtedness. We understand how stressful it can be to move through life with unforgiving collectors on your tail. We want to work tirelessly for you so you can move on through your life debt-free again. 

The longer you wait to address your debt, the harder it is to get rid of it. So, act quickly by calling for your first consultation free of charge. Steiden Law Offices has four office locations with two in Cincinnati, Ohio and one in Florence and Covington, Kentucky. 

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Cincinnati, OH
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Covington, KY
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Maineville, OH
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