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  • Writer's pictureNathan Zarcaro

8 Options for Student Loan Forgiveness in Michigan [2023]

Updated: Oct 23, 2023


Michigan is best known for its beautiful coastline, amazing universities, and for being the car capital of the world. And while the state is consistently ranked among the top states in America to live, Michiganders are not immune from the country's student debt crisis.


Borrowers now hold an average of over $36,300 in student loan debt, but many of the state's 1.4 million borrowers hold far more debt than that. In fact,



  • Nearly 22% of borrowers owe more than $20,000

  • 2% of borrowers owe over $200,000


The good news is that the state of Michigan and the United States Department of Education both offer programs that can help reduce the financial burden that thousands of dollars of student loan debt can bring. In fact, many MI residents could qualify for student loan forgiveness and not even know it.


This article will increase awareness to these programs that thousands of Michiganders can benefit from.




Student loan forgiveness in Michigan


As of the time of writing, there are three state-sponsored student loan forgiveness programs for Michigan residents, in addition to another five federal programs that can also be used.


These three state programs are:




1. Michigan State Loan Repayment Program


The Michigan State Loan Repayment Program, MSLRP for short, is a program designed to help employers in Michigan remain competitive at attracting medical, dental, and mental healthcare service providers to those that fulfill the obligations of the program.



MSLRP eligible providers


At this time, eligible healthcare providers include:


  • Certified Nurse Midwives

  • Clinical/Counseling Psychologists

  • Clinical Social Workers

  • Dentists

  • Licensed Professional Counselors

  • Marriage and Family Therapists

  • Mental Health Counselors

  • Nurse Practitioners

  • Physicians

  • Physician Assistants

  • Psychiatrists

  • Psychologists


Unfortunately, at this time, dental hygienists, RNs, pharmacists, chiropractors, OTs, optometrists, PTs, and other providers not listed above are not eligible.


Some of these provider types have more requirements such as education level, so you'll want to reference the state's website for more specifics.



MSLRP eligibility criteria


Generally, to qualify for MSLRP, you must:


  1. Be a United States citizen (those on J1 Visa Waivers are not eligible)

  2. Be an eligible (and full-time) healthcare provider that works in an area designated as an HPSA - Health Professional Shortage Area.

  3. Work at a nonprofit healthcare clinic

  4. Not have defaulted on any federal loans

  5. Remain with your qualifying employer for at least two years


MSLRP's minimum service requirement is 2 years, during which you must work a minimum of 40 hours per week for at least 45 weeks per year.


The maximum benefit you may receive from the program is $300,000 over a period of 10 years, making the Michigan State Loan Repayment Program one of the most lucrative in the entire country.


Applications for the program are made available each year through the MSLRP website each November for the following year's program that begins on October 1. The application has three distinct parts to it - A, B, and C.


You can locate more detailed specs here.




2. John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program


Offering up to $10,000 annually, up to lifetime maximum of $60,000, the John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program provides assistance to Michigan residents holding eligible student loans that are part of the FFEL and Direct Loan programs.


To be eligible, you must:

  • Be an attorney licensed to practice law

  • Be employed as a state or federal public defender or state prosecutor

  • Handle cases related to criminal and/or juvenile delinquency cases

  • Agree to hold your role for a minimum of three years

You may also find yourself eligible for the JRJ program if you're employed full-time as an employee of a nonprofit organization operating under a state government and spend your time working to "provide legal representation to indigent persons in criminal or juvenile delinquency cases including supervision, education, or training of other personnel providing such representations."


Of course, the qualification requirements are a little more robust than this, and you can find more details here.



3. University of Michigan Law School Loan Repayment Assistance Program


This program, sponsored by the University of Michigan, is only available to graduates of the University's law school. Intended for graduates pursuing moderate-paying positions, you first must enroll in a federal income-driven repayment plan - IBR, ICR, PAYE, or REPAYE.


Once you have enrolled, you become eligible to apply for the benefits offered by the program in the following year.


The benefits offered by the program actually cover all or part of your monthly payments while you're enrolled in your IDR plan, dependent on your income.


To take part in the program, you'll need to meet the following guidelines:


  1. Employed full-time in law (judicial clerks are not eligible)

  2. Must not be in default on any student loans

  3. Can't owe the University of Michigan any money


The program allows you to receive funding for up to 10 years (non-consecutively).


The University of Michigan can provide all of the information that you need to decide if this is something that you may pursue.



Federal student loan forgiveness programs in Michigan


There will be plenty of Michigan residents that don't qualify for the programs above. That's okay, because there are also federal student loan programs available too! Some of the programs that you may want to consider are:


  • Income-Driven Repayment

  • Teacher Loan Forgiveness

  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness

  • Perkins Loan Cancellation

  • NHSC Loan Program



1. Income-Driven Repayment


Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) may be a good option for you if you don't qualify for any of the forgiveness programs dependent on a certain career track or field.


IDR allows you to reduce your monthly payments under the following programs:


  • Income-Based Repayment (IBR)

  • Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)

  • Pay as You Earn (PAYE)

  • Revised Pay as You Earn (REPAYE)


Depending on which of the programs you choose, you'll pay between 10-20% of your monthly discretionary income for between 20-25 years. At that point, whatever balance you are left with will be forgiven. Just beware of the potential tax bomb.


Our student loan calculator can help you decide which of the IDR plans may be right for you.



2. Teacher Loan Forgiveness


A federal program available only for educators, Teacher Loan Forgiveness in Michigan is a program that provides qualifying borrowers between $5,000 and $17,500 in assistance, depending on the grade level and subject area that you teach. As of April 2022, math, science, and special education are the three subjects that carry eligibility for TLF.


Generally, you'll need to meet a 5-year service threshold where you were employed full-time, have taught at a low-income school, and be a "highly qualified" teacher in the state where you work.


Michigan teachers can begin applying for TLF by downloading and completing this application. It can look a little intimidating at first with its' eleven sections, but you'll only really need to provide information on a few of them. It's really standard, asking for things like your employer, school you teach at, and other basic criteria to verify your eligibility.


Once complete, you can send the application directly to your loan servicing company.



3. Public Service Loan Forgiveness


Public Service Loan Forgiveness is a program for those working in public service for the government and qualifying nonprofits.


After making 10 years of payments (120 monthly payments) under a qualifying income-driven repayment plan (while working for an eligible employer), you can apply for loan forgiveness.


You'll need to complete and submit a PSLF Employment Certification Form each year.


PSLF Employment Certification Form


4. Perkins Loan Cancellation


Perkins Loan Cancellation and Discharge is another option that may be available to federal borrowers with outstanding Perkins Loans.


Offering up to 100% forgiveness over a 5 year span, the program is most often utilized by teachers, law enforcement, firefighters, speech pathologists, and other career paths too!



5. NHSC Loan Repayment


Michiganders may also opt to use the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program, which actually consists of three different programs, including:


  • NHSC LRAP

  • NHSC Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Workforce LRAP

  • NHSC Rural Community LRAP


Generally, you'll need to provide healthcare services (primary care, dental, behavioral health) for a period of time at an NHSC-approved site. In practice, the program is similar to Michigan's own MSLRP.



Michigan student loan forgiveness tips


Many of our Michigan based readers have gone on to receive repayment assistance. From their perspective and ours, we have a few key takeaways that you should be aware of.


First - student loan forgiveness in Michigan generally is not considered taxable income. However, if you decide to use one of the federal government's income-driven repayment plans, your forgiven balance could be treated as taxable income from 2026 on, depending on future Congressional legislation.


Second - depending on what career field or sector you are in, it is possible that you may qualify for two or more of the programs that we have referenced here. Most often, you'll simply pick the more lucrative one, but it also makes sense to consider any service obligation lengths and other requirements you may be subject to.


For example, many healthcare providers will qualify for both the MSLRP and the NHSC programs. And depending on what type of provider you are, some may be better off picking one program over the other.


Finally, document everything as you go through the various application processes. Keep backup copies of every supporting document and form that you submit in case something goes awry.



Refinancing student loans in Michigan


No matter how you cut it, there are thousands of Michiganders that won't qualify for any of the programs here. This usually occurs if you have private/Parent PLUS loans or your field doesn't have any programs unique to it.


But that's okay, because student loan refinancing can be a great option.


You may be able to secure a lower interest rate, reduce your monthly payments, get out of debt faster, and depending on the interest rate you receive, maybe achieve all three. Typically, we recommend that those in Michigan begin by getting an interest rate offer from Splash Financial or LendKey, since both lenders are actually marketplaces that will compare prospective interest rates for you across many different lenders.


The process with each only takes about two minutes, and does not impact your credit until after a hard credit pull is conducted (after you accept the terms of your new loan).




State student loan forgiveness programs


Don't live in Michigan? No problem! 48 out of 50 states across the nation also offer state student loan forgiveness programs.




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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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