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Student Loan Advocacy


  • Federal student loan repayments will resume on September 1, 2022.
  • Washington's Attorney General settles with student loan servicer Navient, providing debt relief to some student loan borrowers. See the Office of the Attorney General release for more information. 

Assisting student loan borrowers in Washington 

The student loan advocate supports current and future student loan borrowers in Washington State. Coordinating with other state agencies, Washington's loan advocate:

  • Addresses student borrower complaints.  
  • Provides information and resources about student loan repayment.
  • Educates the public about the rights and responsibilities of student loan borrowers.

Ask Washington's student loan advocate about: 

  1. Income-driven repayment (IDR)

  2. Public service loan forgiveness

  3. Delinquency and default

  4. Deferment and forbearance

  5. Total and permanent disability discharge

  6. Closed school discharge

  7. Consolidation

  8. Other student loan questions

Common terms

  • Loan servicer. A loan servicer is a company that handles the billing and other services on your federal student loan. 
  • Direct loans. A federal student loan borrowed directly from the U.S. Department of Education to attend a participating school. 
  • Loan discharge. Cancellation of a borrower's obligation to repay all or a portion of the remaining principal and interest owed on a student loan. 
  • Direct consolidation loans. When borrowers combine many loans into one new loan. 
  • Discretionary income. The difference between your annual income and 150 percent of the poverty guideline for your family size and state of residence.

Income-driven repayment 

Income-driven repayment (IDR)

Borrowers can base their monthly student loan payments on their income. Depending on loan eligibility, the loan payment could be anywhere from 10-20% of discretionary income. Low-income borrowers could have a monthly income-driven payment as low as $0.

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Loan forgiveness programs

Loan forgiveness programs


On October 6, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced a new limited waiver opportunity for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. For a limited time, borrowers may receive credit for past payments that have not previously qualified for PSLF. 
Under this limited waiver opportunity, any prior payment made on a FFEL, Perkins, or other non-Direct federal student loan will count as a qualifying payment, regardless of repayment plan or whether the payment was made in full or on time. All you need is qualifying employment. The waiver only applies to loans taken out by students.
To secure a review under the limited waiver opportunity, you may need to take action by October 31, 2022.  Please visit ED’s PSLF limited waiver opportunity webpage to find out what steps you need to take, if any. For example:

  • If borrowers have a loan type that does not qualify for PSLF, including a FFEL or Perkins loan, they need to consolidate that loan into the Direct Loan program by October 31, 2022.
  • If borrowers have not submitted a certification for all periods of qualifying employment, they must submit a PSLF form via the PSLF Help Tool for any uncertified employment period by October 31, 2022.

Direct Loan borrowers who have previously submitted certifications from their employers will receive automatic updates of their qualifying payment counts for the certified employment periods. However, it could take several months for these updates to appear.

Please note that Parent PLUS loans are not eligible for the limited waiver opportunity.  

If you have questions or need help determining what steps to take to secure a review under the limited waiver opportunity, please complete our Student Loan Issues form and the Student Loan Advocate will assist you.

Public service and debt forgiveness. Borrowers who have full-time public service jobs could be eligible for debt forgiveness if they do all of the following:

  • Work at least 30 hours per week for local, state, federal, or tribal government or nonprofit organizations.
  • Have Direct loans.
  • Are on an eligible income-driven repayment plan.
  • Make 120 on-time payments on their student loans.
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Payment delinquency, default

Payment delinquency and default 

Borrowers with delinquent payments can get back on track. Many borrowers fall behind on their student loan payments at some point. Borrowers who are currently behind on their loans, but have not yet defaulted, may be able to lower their monthly payments.

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Borrowers can get out of default. Borrowers who have already defaulted on their loans still have options. They can get out of default and avoid having their wages garnished or tax refunds withheld. Visit these links below for more information.

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Deferment and forbearance

Deferment and forbearance 

Short break from making loan payments. Deferment and forbearance are good options for borrowers who need a break from making student loan payments. These options are best if used for a short period of time. Why? Interest continues to grow, which increases the amount borrowers must pay back.

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Disability discharge

Total and permanent disability discharge (TPD)

Discharge student loans due to disability. Loan discharge may be an option for borrowers who are disabled and unable to engage in substantial gainful activity due to their disability. Substantial gainful activity is a level of work performed for pay or profit that involves doing significant physical or mental activities, or a combination of both. Nelnet, a federal student loan servicing company, handles all TPD applications.

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Closed schools and loans

Closed schools and loans 

Class action lawsuit: Sweet v. Cardona. The Project on Predatory Student Lending, which is part of the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, has filed a class action lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of more than 150,000 student loan borrowers who filed for loan cancellation under Borrower Defense to Repayment, a type of student loan forgiveness for borrowers who attended a school that misled them or engaged in other misconduct in violation of certain laws. The lawsuit alleges that the Department of Education is intentionally ignoring students' borrower defense claims. Borrowers who have submitted Borrower Defense to Repayment applications are party to this class action suit and can supply written testimony in this lawsuit by filling out a simple online form. Get more information from the Project on Predatory Student Lending

Discharge student loans due to school closure. Sometimes schools close before students can finish their credential. Students in this situation, who have also taken out loans to pay for their education at the closing school, may be able to get a closed school discharge. Borrowers can qualify if they were:

  • Unable to complete their education because their school closed.
  • Attending classes when their school closed.
  • On an approved leave of absence when their school closed, or if the school closed within 120 days after they withdrew.

Students who do not meet one of the above qualifications can still apply for loan forgiveness through a separate program called Borrower Defense to Repayment. Borrower defense is an application for loan cancellation for students whose school misled them or engaged in other misconduct in violation of certain state laws.

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Combine many loans into one loan. There are trade-offs to consolidating federal student loans. This might make monthly payments simpler or more affordable. However, borrowers can also lose some benefits and consolidation may extend repayment time.

It’s easy to consolidate federal student loans online, and there is no fee or cost for borrowers. Borrowers should research their options before making a decision.

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Other government resources

Other state resources
Federal resources