Frequently Asked Questions

Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008

College Cost Reduction Act of 2007

Loan Forgiveness Provisions inthe Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008

When will the legislation become effective?
Most of the changes were effective August 14, 2008.

Who is eligible to receive loan forgiveness?
Eligible borrowers must be employed full-time in an occupational area of “national need” to include the following:

  • Child Welfare Workers
  • Dentists
  • Early childhood educators
  • Foreign language specialists
  • Highly qualified teachers serving students who have limited English proficiency, low-income communities, underrepresented populations
  • Individuals employed in applied sciences, technology, engineering or mathematics
  • Librarians
  • Nurses
  • Nutrition professionals
  • Public sector employees
  • Occupational therapists
  • School counselors
  • Speech-language pathologists and audiologists
  • Superintendents, principals, other educational administrators

How does this program apply specifically to social workers?
Specifically, child welfare workers who have a degree in social work or a related field with a focus on serving children and families and who are employed full time in public or private child welfare services are eligible as well as mental health professionals with a Master’s degree in social work, psychology, or psychiatry, who service children, adolescents, or veterans.  However, social workers should call to find out if the work that they do fits within any of the other categories mentioned in point number 2. For example, “public sector employee” is a broad category that could include many types of work functions.

Will I be guaranteed funding if I qualify?
The funds will be available on a first come, first served basis and are subject to appropriations. In other words, Congress must make the funds available.

If I qualify, how much money will I receive?
Eligible borrowers may receive up to $2,000 per year of service for a maximum of $10,000 over a five year period and the amount received is determined by Congressional appropriations.

Can I qualify if I am in default on my loan?
The borrower may NOT be in default on the loan for which he or she is seeking loan forgiveness.

How do I find out if I am eligible for the loan forgiveness program?
You can go to to find out if you are eligible for loan forgiveness or call the Federal Student Act Information Center at (800)433-3243.

College Cost Reduction Act of 2007

When will this legislation become effective?
Most of the changes took effect October 1, 2007.

Who is eligible for the loan forgiveness portion of the legislation?
You must be working full-time in a public service job to include:

  • Emergency management
  • Government
  • Military service
  • Public safety
  • Law enforcement
  • Public health
  • Public education (including early childhood education)
  • Social work in a public child or family service agency
  • Public interest law services (including prosecution or public defense or legal advocacy in low-income communities at a nonprofit organization)
  • Public child care
  • Public service for individuals with disabilities
  • Public service for the elderly
  • Public library sciences
  • School-based library sciences and “other school-based services”
  • An Internal Revenue Service designated 501(c)(3) organization
  • Teaching as a full-time faculty member at a tribal college or university
  • Teaching in “high-needs areas” as determined by the Secretary of Education.

How do I find out if I am eligible for the loan forgiveness program?
To determine whether or not you are eligible, contact the U. S. Department of Education at 1-800-433-3243. They will be issuing regulations within the coming months to provide the public with more guidance on the legislation’s implementation.

How much of my loan does this affect?
After 120 monthly payments have been made, 100% of the remaining balance will be forgiven. You must have worked in public service during the 120 payments and at the time of the loan cancellation.

Where can I get information about other loan forgiveness programs?
NASW has many federal and state student loan forgiveness resources on our website at

Currently, under the U.S. Department of Education’s Income Contingent Repayment (ICR) Program, a borrower may pay federally guaranteed and federally extended loans over 25 years. The repayment amount is tied to the borrower’s income. After 25 years of ICR payments, the balance of the debt is forgiven. Access the U.S. Department of Education’s website at for information about college financial aid.

Who can I contact if I need further assistance?
If you need assistance in solving a loan dispute, contact the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid Ombudsman at
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