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  • Writer's pictureNathan Zarcaro

How to Get Student Loan Forgiveness in Massachusetts in 2023

Updated: Oct 23, 2023


Massachusetts is more than the birthplace of the American experiment. It is home to some of the United States' best medical minds, healthcare, and colleges/universities. It is also one of the country's most robust financial hubs outside of New York City.


Along with such a highly educated city comes student loan debt - and a lot of it.


And it makes sense. In just Boston alone, tens of thousands of college students attend Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northeastern University, Boston University, Suffolk University, Emerson College, and more. And that doesn't even take into account the over 100 other colleges across the rest of the state!


Luckily, those in Massachusetts have a number of state and federal student loan forgiveness options available to them to help lessen the burden of their student debt.



Massachusetts student loan calculator


Student loan debt in Massachusetts


Like we mentioned, Massachusettsans have lots of student debt. According to Student Loan Hero, the average MA borrower has nearly $32,000 in outstanding debt. And while this is slightly lower than the national average, it is still a lot of money.


Cumulatively, as of August 2022, the state has over 1 million outstanding student loan borrowers that hold nearly $36 billion in student debt.


To earn student loan forgiveness in Massachusetts, you'll want to follow this four-step process:


  1. Select a program

  2. Apply

  3. Fulfill your service requirement

  4. Earn loan repayment assistance



Step 1: Find a forgiveness program


Before you can go any further, you'll need to understand the variety of programs available to you. Residents of Massachusetts will have a number of both state and federal programs to consider.


We'll start with The Bay State's specific program first.



MA student loan forgiveness programs


At this time, Massachusetts offers one primary loan repayment assistance program to its residents.



1. Massachusetts Loan Repayment Program for Health Professionals (MLRP)


The Massachusetts Loan Repayment Program for Health Professionals (MLRP) offers eligible student loan borrowers up to $50,000 in student loan assistance in exchange for serving as a health care provider in a community experiencing a shortage of health care providers.


The program is available to the following types of providers across The Bay State:


  • Primary care physicians

  • Dentists

  • Dental hygienists

  • Nurse practitioners

  • Other advanced practice nurses, including nurse midwives

  • Physician assistants

  • Clinical psychologists

  • Clinical social workers

  • Mental health counselors and professional counselors


The amount of forgiveness granted may depend upon what type of healthcare provider you are. To receive your repayment assistance, you will need to serve a 2 year contract and cannot participate in any other government forgiveness programs at the same time.


To be eligible for MLRP, you’ll need to meet the following eligibility criteria:


  • Have an outstanding student debt balance used to work towards your education as a health care provider

  • Complete your two year service obligation within an underserved community designated by the federal government as a health professional shortage area

  • Work full time (those that work part time may need to serve a four-year contract)


 

I recommend that you don't jump into the MLRP without assessing your potential eligibility for the various federal and other student loan forgiveness options for healthcare workers.


This is not to say that the Massachusetts MLRP is not a great program because it definitely is. I encourage you to do thorough research before you apply to any program, since there may be more lucrative programs that come with less strict service requirements!



Federal student loan forgiveness programs in MA


Of course, Massachusetts residents may also opt to use any federal programs offered through the Department of Education or any other national organization. Among the programs that those in Massachusetts may take advantage of are:


  1. Public Service Loan Forgiveness

  2. Techer Loan Forgiveness

  3. Perkins Loan Cancellation

  4. Income-Driven Repayment

  5. NHSC Loan Repayment



1. Public Service Loan Forgiveness


Public Service Loan Forgiveness is an option for Massachusetts residents working in public service careers. PSLF, as it is colloquially known, forgives 100% of a borrower’s qualifying Federal Direct Loans after making 120 "qualifying" payments on a federal income-driven repayment plan.


To be eligible for PSLF you’ll need to:


  1. Work for an eligible employer

  2. Have qualifying Federal Direct Loans or consolidate your debt via the Federal Direct program

  3. Successfully make your payments on an IDR plan


Qualifying employers include 501(c)(3) nonprofits, as well as work for any local, state, federal, or tribal government, excluding Congress.


Each year you participate in the PSLF program, you’ll want to remember to complete the PSLF employment certification form. This will help the government keep track of how many qualifying payments you have made.



2. Teacher Loan Forgiveness


Oftentimes known as TLF, Teacher Loan Forgiveness can be a good option for educators that have already made progress on their outstanding debt.


Offering between $5,000 and $17,500 in repayment assistance, TLF is open to teachers that:


  1. Are fully licensed and certified in the state in which they work

  2. Work in Title I or low income schools

  3. Teacher in a classroom role


The maximum repayment assistance amount is reserved for mathematics and science teachers at the secondary level, as well as special education teachers at the primary or the secondary level.


Teachers of all other subjects are instead eligible for $5000 in assistance.



3. Perkins Loan Cancellation


Massachusetts borrowers may also qualify to have their Perkins Loans forgiven through the Perkins Loan Cancellation program.


Perkins Loans were a type of Federal student debt that was discontinued in 2017 after the program was not renewed by Congress. Those that still have outstanding Perkins

Loans may qualify to have them forgiven over a period of five years if they work in any of the following career paths:


  • Law enforcement

  • Firefighters

  • Public defenders and attorneys

  • Faculty members at tribal colleges or universities

  • Libraries or speech pathologists at title one schools midline other qualifying careers


Another feature of the program awards partial forgiveness to those that participate and certain volunteer programs, such as the Peace Corps.


Finally, your Perkins Loans may also be discharged in the event that your school closed, you sustained total and permanent disability, and potentially, if you declare bankruptcy.



4. Income-Driven Repayment


Some borrowers in Massachusetts may opt for an income-driven repayment plan. At this time there are four programs:



There are some rumblings from the Biden administration about a fifth income driven repayment plan coming soon and if/when that happens, we will update our content accordingly.


But for now, the four existing income-driven repayment plans require you to make 20 or 25 years of reduced payments equal to somewhere between 10 and 20% of your monthly discretionary income.


Your monthly discretionary income will be determined by the federal government according to a formula that takes into account the number of people in your household, your household income, and whether you live in Alaska, Hawaii, or the contiguous United States.


After you complete your 20 or 25 years of payments, your remaining federal student loan balance will be forgiven. Do keep in mind that in the future Congressional legislation may expire, allowing income driven repayment forgiveness to be treated as taxable income.


But for now this won’t occur until at least 2026 and may never become reality.



5. NHSC Loan Repayment


Massachusetts health care providers may also opt to participate in the NHSC Loan Repayment Program. The NHSC program offers between 50,000 and $100,000 in student loan aid in exchange for a two to three-year service commitment at a federally designated health professional shortage area (HPSA).


In many ways this is like a federal version of the Massachusetts Loan Repayment Program for Health Professionals.


MSRP does dictate that you cannot participate in both programs at one time so make sure that you choose the one most financially advantageous for you.


 

Deciding which program to apply for is a balancing act and can be a little tricky at first. To help you decide which program is best for you, consider the following:


  • Does the program contain a service requirement that you can fulfill?

  • Are you maximizing the financial assistance you can access?

  • Are you likely to gain acceptance to the program?



Step 2: The application process


Once you've made the decision on how to proceed, you'll want to prepare to apply. To help maximize your chances of acceptance, we recommend that you follow these tips to earn student loan forgiveness in Massachusetts:


  • Locate all of your loan and other financial documentation ahead of time: Most all programs out there are going to require you to provide information about your outstanding balances, terms, and rates. Some may even require you to provide a copy of your promissory notes.


  • Check for a reference requirement: Filing out these applications is not brain surgery. But, you still won't to leave it for last second. We were working with a borrower not too long ago that left an application until the final weekend, only to realize that he needed references and a letter of recommendation.



Steps 3-4: Earn your forgiveness


After you've gained acceptance to your program of choice, the only thing left to do is to fulfill the program's requirements. Depending on the program, this could take anywhere from a year to a decade or more. But still, knowing that you are on your way to receiving well-deserved loan repayment assistance is great.



Get our MA student loan forgiveness calculator


You're probably wondering how best to pick the right forgiveness program for you. Luckily for you, we built a student loan calculator designed to help you locate all the information you'll need to successfully earn loan repayment assistance.


Our calculator will help you compare standard repayment, private refinancing, PSLF, the four income-driven repayment plans, and more strategies. It can save you over $10,000 over the course of your student loan repayment. Grab your copy now!




Tips for student loan forgiveness in Massachusetts


From our experience working with those in The Bay State, we've put together this list of tips designed to make your loan repayment assistance journey easier to navigate.



1. Understand whether your forgiveness is taxable


Sometimes, any forgiveness received is treated as taxable income. And while it seems unlikely that MA is poised to tax the benefits released by President Biden, other programs may not be treated so favorably. PSLF is always considered tax-free, but remember that any assistance granted an IDR plan may be taxed in the future.



2. Gather all of the information you need


In our experience, you'll want to gather all of the financial documentation that you may need before you prepare an application for any program. We once worked with someone that was applying for a state forgiveness program in another state, only to realize that this unique application asked for references and an essay response. Situations like these will fluster you, cause you to panic at the last second, and could effect the quality of your application.


So, in addition to reviewing your application before you complete it, you'll likely want to make sure you have the following documents ready, though not all will be necessary:


  • Promissory notes, rates, terms, and monthly payment information for each of your outstanding loans

  • Past W-2 and/or paystub information

  • Your SSN

  • Other financial documentation as needed



Consider private refinancing


Unfortunately, student loan forgiveness won't be realistic for every outstanding borrower. Either you don't have the right type of loans, or maybe you don't work in the right career field. That's okay.


Private refinancing may be a better option for you anyway. If you're unsure whether or not you want to refinance your existing federal or private loans, checking your rates with Splash Financial is likely a good place to start.


Their rate check process takes 3 minutes and won't impact your credit score until you proceed to the hard credit inquiry. So what are you waiting for?




Student loan forgiveness in nearby states




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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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