School Debt

Federal Student Loans

 Total and Permanent Disability Discharge

If your student loans are federal and you are no longer able to work due to a disability, you may be eligible for a total and permanent discharge. Visit this website for more information:

You can also start the process by contacting Nelnet by phone or email. Call 7 days a week at 888.303.7818 from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Eastern) or email at

You may be eligible if you can show you are totally and permanently disabled through one of the following ways:

1. If you are a veteran, you can submit documentation from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) showing that the VA has determined that you are unemployable due to a service-connected disability;

2. If you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, you can submit a Social Security Administration (SSA) notice of award for SSDI or SSI benefits stating that your next scheduled disability review will be within 5 to 7 years from the date of your most recent SSA disability determination; or

3. You can submit certification from a physician that you are totally and permanently disabled. Your physician must certify that you are unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that:

• Can be expected to result in death;
• Has lasted for a continuous period of not less than 60 months; or
• Can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 60 months.

If you have defaulted on your federal student loans there are a few options to consider to cure the default:

Loan Rehabilitation

You can seek to rehabilitate your loan by first contacting your lender. Basically, you agree on a reasonable and affordable payment plan based on your current income and make monthly payments. The minimum payment to rehabilitate is $5 and you will have to make 9 monthly payments within 10 months.


You can make a settlement offer with the Department of Education. Generally the Department of Education is only willing to offer a 10% discount.


This process is similar to refinancing a mortgage. It allows you to combine multiple federal student loans to create a new loan with a fixed interest rate. This option is not available if a wage garnishment for the student loans is already in place.

State School Collection

You may have received a letter, call or court papers about a debt you allegedly owe to a state school or university. Most likely the amount they are asking for includes “collection costs” as part of the amount they are alleging you owe. However, the information you are given may not clearly state what part of the amount is “collection fees”.

We believe those collection fees may not be properly assessed. You can contact the school, the writer of the letter you received, or the Ohio Attorney General’s office to try to get a breakdown of the amount requested. The Ohio Attorney General’s office has a “live chat” feature on its website:

We are interested in these cases. Please call our intake line to see if you qualify for our services.

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