Borrowers may be eligible for forgiveness of the federal student loans used to attend a school if that school misled them or engaged in other misconduct in violation of certain laws.

This type of loan forgiveness is called “borrower defense to repayment,” sometimes abbreviated to “borrower defense.” Learn more in the sections below to see whether you may qualify.

Borrower Defense to Repayment

Borrower Defense Application
Who Qualifies for Borrower Defense to Repayment Loan Forgiveness
Forbearance/Stopped Collections Status
Common Questions and Answers Regarding Forbearance/Stopped Collections Status
Information and Resources for Help


Borrower Defense Application

Borrowers who attended Corinthian Colleges (Everest, Heald, and WyoTech) with a first date of attendance between July 1, 2010 and Sept. 30, 2014 and are seeking federal student loan forgiveness through borrower defense should complete a Corinthian-specific application. For more information about forgiveness of federal student loan(s) used to attend Corinthian Colleges, go to the Information about Debt Relief for Corinthian Colleges Students page.

All other borrowers applying for borrower defense MUST submit their application using one of the U.S. Department of Education (ED) borrower defense application forms provided in the sections below. Please read the instructions provided within the application before filling out the application form. Please note that the instructions also include information for parent PLUS borrowers.

To apply for federal student loan forgiveness based on borrower defense, please submit an application in ONE of the following ways:

  1. Complete an online application form, which can be submitted electronically. Within the online application form, you will be required to upload an electronic version of your signature. You can upload a picture file of your signature (for example, taken with a smart phone or digital camera). You can include additional documentation as part of your application by uploading additional electronic documents (for example, scanned PDF documents). Please prepare those electronic documents prior to starting the electronic application process.
  2. Complete a fillable PDF application form, print it, and sign it (view a nonfillable HTML version of the application form here). Send your completed form to the U.S. Department of Education by email to FSAOperations@ed.gov or by regular mail to U.S. Department of Education, P.O. Box 429060, San Francisco, CA 94142. If you submit your PDF application by email, you are required to upload an electronic version of your signature. You can upload a picture file of your signature (for example, taken with a smart phone or digital camera). If you have additional documents that you would like to include as part of your emailed application, please include the documents with your email (for example, by attaching scanned PDF documents).

If you choose to submit additional documents as part of your borrower defense application, the following types of documents are among those that may be helpful to your application:

  • Documentation to confirm the school for which you are applying for borrower defense, your program of study, and your dates of enrollment—such as transcripts, enrollment agreements, and registration documents
  • Promotional materials from the school
  • Emails with school officials
  • Your school’s manual or course catalog

ED and/or your federal student loan servicer(s) will contact you once the review of your claim is complete to inform you of whether your claim was successful or denied.


Who Qualifies for Borrower Defense to Repayment Loan Forgiveness

Under the law, you may be eligible for borrower defense to repayment forgiveness of the federal student loans that you took out to attend a school if that school misled you, or engaged in other misconduct in violation of certain state laws. Specifically, you may assert borrower defense by demonstrating that the school, through an act or omission, violated state law directly related to your federal student loan or to the educational services for which the loan was provided. You may be eligible for borrower defense regardless of whether your school closed or you are otherwise eligible for loan forgiveness under other laws. 
 
If you are eligible to receive federal student loan forgiveness, you may be able to have all or part of your outstanding federal student loan debt forgiven, and you also may be reimbursed for amounts you have already paid on those loans. 

You will only be eligible for this type of federal student loan forgiveness if your school’s misleading activities or other misconduct directly relate to the loan or to the educational services for which the loan was provided. You will not be eligible for this type of forgiveness based on claims that are not directly related to your loan or the educational services provided by the school. For example, personal injury claims or claims based on allegations of harassment are not bases for a borrower defense claim.

Please note that eligibility for federal student loan forgiveness is limited to federal student loans taken out for payment to the school relating to your borrower defense application. If you would like to apply for borrower defense against multiple schools that you attended and for which you took out federal student loans, you must submit separate applications for each school of attendance.


Forbearance/Stopped Collections Status

Within the application, you may select to have your federal student loans placed into forbearance or stopped collections status while your application is reviewed by ED. If you choose for your loans to be placed into forbearance or stopped collections status, shortly after we receive your claim, your loans will be placed in forbearance, and collections will cease on any of your loans that are in default while your claim is evaluated. 

NOTE: If you do not select one of the forbearance or stopped collection options within the application, your federal student loans will be placed into forbearance or stopped collection, and ED will request forbearance or stopped collection for any commercially held Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans that you have currently. Interest will continue to accrue while your claim is evaluated. 

More information on forbearance and stopped collections is available immediately below in the “Common Questions and Answers Regarding Forbearance/Stopped Collections” section.


Common Questions and Answers Regarding Forbearance/Stopped Collections Status

By completing and submitting a borrower defense application, you may have all of your federal student loans in repayment placed into forbearance status and have debt collections on any federal student loans in default stopped (“stopped collections status”) while ED reviews your application. However, please note that interest will continue to accumulate on federal student loans regardless of what status they are in, including for subsidized loans. If your application for borrower defense is denied or partially approved, then when you are taken out of forbearance or stopped collections, the interest that accumulated will be added to the amount you owed when you entered forbearance or stopped collections, and the total amount you owe in the future may be higher.

NOTE: You do not have to place your loans in forbearance or stopped collections to apply for borrower defense forgiveness. If you do not select one of the forbearance or stopped collection options within the application, your ED-held Federal Student Aid loans will automatically be placed into forbearance and stopped collections, and ED will request forbearance and debt collection to stop for any commercially held FFEL Program loans that you have currently (as applicable).

Please read the following question and answer (Q & A) section carefully before you choose whether you want the U.S. Department of Education to place your loans into forbearance or stopped collections.

Q.    What does forbearance status mean? 

A.    During any period that your federal student loans are in forbearance, you do not have to make payments on those loans, and the loans will not go into default. This will continue until the borrower defense review process of your application is completed. Your loan servicer will notify you when your federal student loan(s) have been placed into forbearance status. Until you receive that notice, you must continue to make payments.

Q.    What does stopped collections status mean? 

A.    During any period that your loans are in default, if you choose to enter stopped collections status, collections on your loans will stop. For federal student loans that are placed into stopped collections status, the federal government or debt collection companies will stop attempting to collect on the loan, including by not withholding money from your wages or income tax refunds. This will continue until the borrower defense review process of your application is completed.

If you previously defaulted on your federal student loan(s) and have entered a rehabilitation plan, please contact the collection agency that you have been working with to set up that plan in order to determine whether there may be any negative consequences if you choose to enter stopped collections status.

Q.    Which of my federal student loans are eligible to go into forbearance or stopped collections status?

A.    Initially, if you choose forbearance or stopped collections status, it will affect all of your federal student loans that are owned by ED and are being serviced by your federal student loan servicer, including loans that are not eligible for borrower defense loan forgiveness, such as (1) loans taken out to attend another institution, and (2) any loans you have for which you are not asserting borrower defense. If you select forbearance and you have commercially held FFEL Program loans, ED will request forbearance on your behalf.

Q.    Can I remove some or all of my federal student loans from forbearance or stopped collections status?

A.    If you want the forbearance or stopped collections status to apply only to those federal student loans related to your borrower defense application, you must contact your loan servicer after you hear from it confirming the forbearance or stopped collection status. After your loans enter forbearance or stopped collection status, if at any time you want to remove all of your federal student loans from forbearance or stopped collections, you must also contact your loan servicer.

Q.    Can I make payments on my federal student loans that are in forbearance or stopped collections?

A.    Yes. While your federal student loans are in forbearance or stopped collections, you are not required to pay your loans. However, you are allowed to make payments on any of your loans that are in forbearance or stopped collections, including payments for accrued interest. As noted above, interest will continue to accrue on all of these loans while they are in forbearance or stopped collections.

Q.    What happens if my borrower defense application against the school is successful?

A.    Your federal student loans related to your application may be discharged partially or completely. If you receive a partial discharge, you will be responsible for repaying any amounts that are not discharged through borrower defense (including any interest that accumulated). Also, at that time, the forbearance or stopped collections period for any of your other federal student loans will end. You will be responsible for repaying those other loans, if applicable, including interest that accrued during the forbearance or stopped collections period.

Q.    What happens if my borrower defense application against the school is denied?

A.    You will not receive a discharge of any of your federal student loans and the forbearance or stopped collections period will end for all of your loans. You will be responsible for repaying these loans, including interest that accrued during the forbearance or stopped collections period.


Information and Resources for Help

If you have questions about borrower defense, you may call our borrower defense hotline: 855-279-6207. Representatives are available Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. If you have questions about borrower defense, you also may send an email to FSAOperations@ed.gov.