Discover is no longer accepting new student loan applications.
Applications received on or before January 31, 2024, 11:59 pm CT will be processed as usual.

Discover Student Loans
Discover Student Loans

check mark   Article highlights

  • Student loan forgiveness relieves the borrower from their obligations to repay part or all of their student loan debt.
  • Loan forgiveness is available for certain types of student loans and may not be taxed if the borrower has an eligible occupation.
  • However, borrowers may still be taxed at the state level. Consult a tax professional who understands federal and state laws to clarify your tax obligation.

We can probably all agree that having some or all of your student loans forgiven is a good thing. It can reduce your debt load and free up some much-needed room in your monthly budget. If you’re eligible for student loan forgiveness, you might be wondering what it means from a tax perspective. There are several different types of student loan forgiveness programs and tax rules vary. Understanding how student loan forgiveness tax works can help you prepare for any income taxes you may be responsible for.

What is student loan forgiveness?

Student loan forgiveness, cancellation, and discharge are often used interchangeably. When a student loan is forgiven, canceled, or discharged, the borrower is relieved from their obligation to repay part or all of their student loan debt. Under certain conditions, the forgiven amount may be considered income and subject to income taxes.

Federal student loan forgiveness

Listed below are some of the common forgiveness programs for federal student loans. Eligibility is based on several factors such as type of occupation or service, the length of time served in a role, and other circumstances. For full program details, visit

Federal Forgiveness Program Overview
Public Service Loan Forgiveness This may be available to borrowers who have a government job or are employed by a non-profit organization. If eligible, your remaining federal loan balance could be forgiven after making a certain number of qualifying monthly payments.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness Full-time educators who teach in a low-income school or educational service agency for five complete and consecutive academic years may be eligible for federal student loan forgiveness.
Perkins Loan Cancellation and Discharge If you work full-time in an eligible public service role and have a Perkins Loan, you may be able to get some or all of the federal loan amount canceled. Public service roles include teachers, firefighters, military service members, nurses, public defenders, and more.
Closed School Discharge Your federal student loan may be discharged if your school closes while you’re enrolled or soon after you withdraw.
Discharge Due to Death or Total and Permanent Disability In these extreme circumstances, your federal student loan may be discharged.

Private student loan forgiveness

Many private student loan lenders do not have forgiveness programs. However, some lenders may forgive loans in the event of the primary borrower's death or permanent disability. Contact your private student loan lender for more information.

Will I be taxed on student loans that are forgiven?

The American Rescue Plan states that private student loans that have been forgiven between January 1, 2021, and December 31, 2025, are exempt from federal income taxes. Be sure to check with your state to see if state income taxes will apply.

Federal student loans that are forgiven due to the following reasons do not count as taxable income:

Borrowers may be taxed on federal student loans that are canceled or discharged for other reasons such as:

  • A school closure
  • A school falsifying the borrower’s loan eligibility
  • A school failing to pay a required loan refund
  • The borrower filing for bankruptcy

However, every state is different. Some states might exclude debt forgiveness from being taxed—others may not. Be sure to check your state’s laws and consult a tax professional for guidance. 

How to prepare if you owe taxes on student loan forgiveness

Calculating your tax liability can be tricky, especially if you’ve had some or all of your student loans forgiven. Consult a tax professional who understands federal and state laws and whether canceled student loan debt is considered income. They can help clarify your tax obligation. Here’s a starter list of questions to ask:

  • Will the forgiven/canceled amount be considered income?
  • Will the forgiven/canceled amount be taxed? If so, how much?
  • Will this amount be included in my tax return for the year the loan was forgiven?

How helpful was this content?




More to explore