Managing student loan debt can take a toll on your mental health. How much of a toll it takes depends on how much higher education debt you have, how much you make, and varies on where you live.
For borrowers in Virginia, the average student loan debt for graduates in 2019-2020 was $29,616, based on data from The Institute of College Access and Success (TICAS).
If you’re an Old Dominion resident with student loan debt, you have options for student loan forgiveness in Virginia. We’ve done the heavy lifting for you and compiled a list of programs to help with your student loan repayment.
Top 3 options for student loan forgiveness in Virginia
There aren’t a ton of Virginia-specific student loan forgiveness programs or loan repayment assistance programs, but there are a few. Here are some options to consider.
1. Virginia State Loan Repayment Program
One of the options for student loan forgiveness in Virginia is through the Virginia State Loan Repayment Program (VA-SLRP). It’s geared toward medical and health professionals who work in designated shortage areas and serve the community. You can review the guidelines here.
Eligibility: Must be a medical or dental professional or work in behavioral health or as a pharmacist at a qualified Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA). Review the VA-SLRP guidelines.
Forgiveness amount: Up to a maximum of $140,000.
Service requirement: Minimum two-year service commitment, up to four years maximum.
Apply online if you’re eligible.
2. Virginia Loan Forgiveness Program (VLFP)
For graduates of the University of Virginia School of Law, there are two similar options for student loan forgiveness in Virginia.
There’s the VLFP I program geared toward law graduates from 2012 and earlier. It’s a unique program in that it doesn’t have an earnings cap or an asset limit for qualification. You can still qualify if you have a higher than average income or savings.
Eligibility: Must be from Class of 2002 to Class of 2012 from the law school and be current with loan payments. Applicants need to work in public service and apply within two years of graduation or finishing a judicial clerkship.
Forgiveness amount: Varies, but can be up to 100% of loans.
Service requirement: You can qualify for loan forgiveness each year you work in public service and qualify for the program.
Learn more about the application.
Virginia Loan Forgiveness Program (VLFP II)
Since that program is phased out for a lot of graduates, there’s the VLFP II for graduates of the law school from the Class of 2013 and after.
Eligibility: Must be from Class of 2013 and work in public service, earning less than $85,000 annually. Applicants must work in public service and apply within two years of graduation or completing a judicial clerkship.
Forgiveness amount: Up to 100% of qualifying law school loans if you earn less than $65,000. If you earn between $65,000 and $85,000, the amount of loan forgiveness is reduced and prorated based on income.
Service requirement: You can qualify for loan forgiveness each year you work in public service and qualify for the program, up to 10 years.
3. Virginia Loan Commonwealth Plan (VLCP)
The University of Virginia School of Law expanded the VLP I and VLFP II programs in 2014 to include graduates working in the private sector who meet certain eligibility requirements. The program is called the Virginia Loan Commonwealth Plan.
Eligibility: Graduates in the private sector from Class of 2013 and later. Must earn less than $85,000. Borrowers must be on IBR or PAYE repayment plans.
Forgiveness amount: Graduates earning less than $65,000 can get 100% forgiven under IBR or PAYE. If you earn more than $65,000 the amount forgiven is prorated based on your income.
Service requirement: There’s no commitment and you can qualify for each year as long as you remain eligible.
There also was a Virginia Physician Loan Repayment Program, however, as of writing, there’s no funding for the program. Check back with the state’s loan repayment program page to see if there’s updated information and additional funding at some point.
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Federal programs for student loan forgiveness in Virginia
If you’re looking for student loan forgiveness in Virginia, you’ll likely need to be in health care or work as a lawyer. If you don’t meet those requirements, federal programs for student loan forgiveness are available that you may qualify for. Unfortunately, private student loans are ineligible.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
If you work in the public sector, you might be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF). Under this program, qualified applicants can get their remaining federal student loan balance forgiven after 10 years of payments.
Eligibility: Must work full-time for an eligible employer in the public sector and make 120 payments.
Forgiveness amount: Remaining balance after 10 years.
Service requirement: 10 years of service in the public sector.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness
If you’re looking for Virginia student loan forgiveness for teachers, you might also qualify for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program. You can qualify if you work as a teacher full-time for five years (must be consecutive academic years) at a qualified educational service agency or low-income school.
Eligibility: Work as a teacher for five years at a qualified school or agency. You must be considered “highly qualified” and work at an elementary or secondary school.
Forgiveness amount: $5,000 to $17,5000 depending on the subject you teach.
Service requirement: Five consecutive years.
If you have federal student loans, you can choose income-driven repayment options (IDR). If you have a remaining balance, it’ll be forgiven after the 20 to 25 year repayment term. Unlike PSLF, you don’t need to work in the public sector and your monthly payments are reduced to 10% to 20% of your discretionary income.
Eligibility: Make student loan payments on Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Plan, Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE), Pay As You Earn (PAYE), or Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR).
Forgiveness amount: The remaining balance after 20 to 25 years, based on your repayment plan.
Service requirement: None.
Virginia college loan discharge
In years past, some Virginia colleges lost accreditation and closed. Because of this, the U.S. Department of Education had Virginia college loan discharge as an option to clear out student debt for qualified student loan borrowers.
To be eligible for Virginia college loan discharge, you must’ve been enrolled when the school closed or if you were on an approved leave of absence. Also, if your school closed within 120 to 180 days (depending on when your loans were disbursed) after you withdrew from school, you might qualify as well.
Reach out to your loan servicer for more information.
Though there aren’t many options of student loan forgiveness in Virginia, specifically, check out Virginia state loan repayment program and the other options listed above.
Exploring all of your options can help you pursue loan forgiveness and get some student loan relief down the line. If you want to lower your interest rate immediately, see whether student loan refinancing can help make your debt repayment more affordable.