Student Loan Debt Relief for Social Workers

NASW promotes student loan debt relief for social workers as part of its ongoing work to improve working conditions, salaries, and other benefits for members of the profession and to ensure that consumers have access to qualified professionals. 

NASW will continue its advocacy and support for proposals to provide student loan debt relief for social workers in all settings. It is important to note that NASW does not determine loan forgiveness eligibility, nor does NASW disperse loan forgiveness funds. However, the NASW Foundation does offer scholarships and fellowships.

Current Student Loan Debt Forgiveness and Repayment Options for Social Workers

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Limited Waiver Opportunity Through October 2022

The Department of Education has overhauled the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program through a waiver. Read the Department of Education press release.

The PSLF Coalition, of which NASW is a member, has a fact sheet on the PSLF Waiver and how to access forgiveness.

The waiver will run through October 31, 2022. Borrowers who need to consolidate must submit a consolidation application by that date. Similarly, borrowers will need to submit a PSLF form — the single application used for a review of employment certification, payment counts, and processing of forgiveness — on or before October 31, 2022, to have previously ineligible payments counted. The Department recommends borrowers take this action through the online PSLF Help Tool.

NASW is working with the Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC). The SBPC is hosting a webinar about accessing PSLF in light of the waiver.

You can find out more about the overhaul and how to access Public Service Loan Forgiveness on the Student Borrower Protection Center website.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

Public service professionals, including social workers, may be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program

This program allows licensed clinical social workers up to an initial $50,000 to repay student loans in exchange for two years of serving in a community-based site in a high-need designated Health Professional Shortage Area. Social workers may be eligible for additional loan repayment funds through one-year continuation service contracts.


According to the Council on Social Work Education’s report, 2019 Statistics on Social Work Education in the United States, "Educational debt for baccalaureate and master’s social work graduates is higher today than it was 10 years ago. Master’s graduates have, on average, more than 50% more debt today; in 2019, the average loan debt amount was $46,591, compared to $30,789 in 2009. On average, baccalaureate graduates had $29,323 in loan debt in 2019, compared to $24,683 in 2009."

The report finds that 73.3% of baccalaureate graduates and 76.1% of master’s graduates have loan debt.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a social worker’s median salary is only $51,760. 

While there are federally authorized loan forgiveness programs available to social workers, additional resources are required.


1. 2019 statistics on social work education in the United States - Council on Social Work Education

2. U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook, Social Workers - Bureau of Labor Statistics,


Dina Kastner, MSS, MLSP

Webinar: Update on Public Service Loan Forgiveness

On October 6, 2021, the Department of Education announced significant new changes to Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). Equal Justice Works and the PSLF Coalition, of which NASW is a member, are hosting a monthly 'Update on Public Service Loan Forgiveness' webinar. Register for upcoming webinars or view past webinars here.

Manage Your Student Loans

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NASW has partnered with Savi, a student loan technology company, to provide our members with resources and expertise to better understand, manage, and repay student loan debt.

Learn how to manage your student loans

Student Debt Stories from Social Workers

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Social workers often have school loan debt that exceeds their annual salary. NASW collects stories of loan debt to assist in our efforts to advocate for loan forgiveness for social workers.

Read student debt stories