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  • Writer's pictureNathan Zarcaro

7 Options For Idaho Student Loan Forgiveness in 2024


Student loan borrowers in Idaho owe nearly $43,100 on average, making it one of the most indebted states nationwide. And while this debt undoubtedly frustrates borrowers, they should know that there is a whole host of forgiveness programs out there designed to help them.


In fact, by our count, there are at least 7 forgiveness programs alone, not counting other strategies that can help you get control over your loans.


Today, we're going to explore all seven of these student loan forgiveness programs available in Idaho.



Idaho student loan forgiveness


Federal and private student loan borrowers in Idaho may utilize one (or more) of these 7 forgiveness programs:


  1. Rural Physician Incentive Program (RPIP)

  2. Idaho State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP)

  3. Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

  4. Income-Driven Repayment (IDR)

  5. Teacher Loan Forgiveness

  6. NHSC Loan Repayment

  7. Perkins Loan Cancellation



1. Rural Physician Incentive Program (RPIP)


Idaho physicians may qualify to receive up to $100,000 in student loan forgiveness over the course of a four-year service commitment in a Health Professional Shortage Area across the state.


To qualify for the Rural Physician Incentive Program, physicians should:


  • Practice primary care medicine (family, general internal, or pediatrics)

  • Work at least 28 hours per week

  • Have paid into the RPIP fund to gain preference (but not a hard requirement) through the Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, or Idaho medical education program.


Providers receiving debt assistance through any other state or federal program are not eligible.



2. Idaho State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP)


Idaho's State Loan Repayment Program offers between $5,000 and $25,000 per year in loan repayment assistance for up to two years in exchange for full-time service at an Idaho HPSA.


Participating providers must:


  • Accept Medicaid, Medicare, and CHIP insurance

  • Provide discounts to those earning less than 200% of the Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines and free services to those under 100%.

  • Be employed or contracted by a government or nonprofit entity or organization.



3. Public Service Loan Forgiveness


Thousands of borrowers in Idaho qualify for PSLF, and many don’t recognize it.  In fact, you may be able to eliminate 100% of your outstanding federal loans if you:


  • Work for an eligible employer: Generally, this includes 501(c)(3) nonprofits as well as most federal/Idaho state/local/tribal government jobs.

  • Have outstanding Federal Direct or FFEL Program Loans: You may consolidate using a Direct Consolidation Loan to gain eligibility.


To earn this loan repayment assistance, you’ll make 10 years (120 months) of reduced payments on a qualifying income-driven repayment plan (IBR, ICR, PAYE, or SAVE).


Then, once you’ve made your payments, the remainder of your qualifying debt will be forgiven.  Depending on the IDR plan you use, your income, household size, and state of residence, you may find that your outstanding balance actually increases each month, particularly if your reduced payments don’t cover the interest that accrues each month.


The SAVE plan will subsidize some of this interest, though your balance may continue to grow.  But as long as you stick with PSLF, this isn’t an issue.


Also, do keep in mind that $0 payments made under the federal government’s student loan moratorium may count towards your total of 120 payments.



4. Income-Driven Repayment


The four income-driven repayment plans may be used to pursue student loan forgiveness without PSLF by those that do not work for a qualifying employer.


To expand upon the four IDR programs, you may choose among:


  1. Income-Based Repayment: Borrowers will pay 10%/15% of their discretionary income for 20/25 years.

  2. Income-Contingent Repayment: ICR is generally the least favorable of all the IDR plans but offers the greatest flexibility to those that don’t qualify for any of the other 3 programs. Payments are generally 20% of your discretionary income for 25 years.

  3. Pay as You Earn: Payments are generally 10% of discretionary income for 20 years.

  4. Saving on a Valuable Education: 5% for between 10-25 years, depending on a borrower's outstanding balance.


Your discretionary income will be calculated by the federal government as the difference between your adjusted gross income (AGI) and 150% of the poverty line (225% for the SAVE plan).


The two downsides to IDR without PSLF are that:


  1. You’ll make monthly payments for a period of 10-25 years, rather than for a guaranteed 10-year term. 

  2. The forgiveness that you receive may be treated as taxable income in the future.  As of early January 2024, the state of Idaho does not tax student loan forgiveness.



5. Teacher Loan Forgiveness


The national Teacher Loan Forgiveness program awards educators in Idaho with up to $17,500 in student loan assistance if they:


  1. Teach five complete and consecutive academic school years, with at least one of these years occurring after 1997-1998.

  2. Work at a participating low-income school

  3. Have attained at least a bachelor's degree and be a fully licensed teacher

  4. Have qualifying federal student loans taken out after October 1st,1998

  5. Teach science, mathematics, special education, or STEM subjects


Teachers meeting all requirements other than the STEM/special education requirements may still participate in the program but will be eligible for a reduced forgiveness amount of $5,000 instead.


Though not currently the case in Idaho, many states offer their own programs for educators to participate in.



6. NHSC Loan Repayment


Idaho physicians, dentists, pharmacists, and certain other healthcare providers may apply for one of the federal government’s three NHSC sponsored programs:



The premise of all three programs is similar. You’ll be required to complete a multi-year service commitment at an NHSC site, generally in a federally designated Health Professional Shortage Area.


Fulfilling this requirement, which varies depending on the three programs, can then earn you between $25,000-$100,000 in student loan forgiveness.



7. Perkins Loan Cancellation


Thousands of borrowers in Idaho still hold Perkins Loans, though they stopped being offered by schools on September 30, 2017 after Congress defunded the program.


Perkins borrowers may be able to get 100% of these loans forgiven if they:


These loans will be forgiven over a five-year period based on the following schedule:


  • 15% after years 1 and 2

  • 20% after years 3 and 4

  • 30% after year 5


Those that qualify for Perkins Loan Cancellation will complete five years of eligible employment (teachers, nurses, medical technicians, law enforcement, child/family services.



Consider refinancing as a strategy


Idaho borrowers that aren’t good fits for any of these student loan forgiveness programs may be good candidates to refinance their federal and/or private student loans.


There is no shortage of refinancing lenders doing business.  Some of our favorites are:



By altering your interest rate and term, you’ll be able to structure your payments in a way that makes better sense for you and your financial picture.


For some, this means picking a shorter term and making higher payments will be the way to go to get out of debt sooner.  But for others, extending their term to pay less per month can be a good way to lower their monthly payments.


Do beware, though, that once you refinance federal loans with a private lender, there is no way to get your federal loans back.  This could mean forfeiting your rights to any future moratoriums or deferments.



Conclusion


Student loan borrowers in Idaho have seven different forgiveness and repayment assistance programs to take advantage of. Those that don't qualify may still refinance or consider consolidation.


Are you pursuing forgiveness in Idaho?


Tell us about it in the comments below!

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About Nathan Zarcaro

Nathan Zarcaro is the founder of The Student Debt Destroyer and is passionate about personal finance related causes.  A 2018 graduate of Providence College's Liberal Arts Honors Program, Nathan studied Finance, and has worked for industry leaders in both finance and healthcare.  In his free time, Nathan enjoys playing golf and traveling with his wife Brigid.

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