Private loans are very difficult to cancel. Private loans cancellations are not required by law and private loan borrowers do not have the same range of cancellation options as federal student loans. Although limited, cancellations for federal loans are required by law. Private student loan cancellations are another story. Unless the private lender made a promise about a cancellation (or discharge) program, private lenders MAY cancel loans, but they usually don’t have to. You may also want to consider filing for bankruptcy relief. Bankruptcy is a difficult, but not way to cancel private student loans.
You can ask your private lender for relief, but these lenders are not required by law to help you. Some private lenders are now offering disability and death discharges. Sallie Mae, for example, announced a total and permanent disability program for Smart Option borrowers as well as forgiveness of unpaid balances if a primary borrower dies. Wells Fargo announced a similar program in December 2010. (The announcement is no longer on-line, but FastWeb and others reported on it). Some lenders will automatically allow a private loan discharge if the borrower obtained a federal disability discharge. Lenders will also in some cases use the criteria for federal loan discharges. In other cases, the lenders use criteria that are completely different than the federal programs.
Read your loan contract very carefully to learn about your private loan’s particular terms, conditions, benefits, rates, fees, and penalties. Private lenders do have to honor any promises they make about terms and benefits. Some private lenders offer a cancellation program for some loan products, but not others. Some will offer to cancel only a portion of a loan in certain circumstances.
You may also be eligible for private loan relief from recent state and federal enforcement actions. This relief is mainly for students who borrowed loans made by for-profit schools, such as Corinthian school Genesis loans. The relief is generally limited.
Private student loan settlements are difficult to get, but are possible in some cases. There are no specific laws or regulations requiring private lenders to offer settlements. The policies and programs vary considerably by lender.
Private lenders will offer settlements in some cases. However, the lenders generally require very large lump sums to settle debts even from borrowers with low incomes.
Most private lenders will not even discuss settlement or modification until the loan is in default or written off. At this point, the borrowers’ main point of contact is usually a collection agency. Interestingly, the collection agencies working on behalf of the lenders will often settle for smaller amounts than the originating lenders.
As with some federal loan settlements, there may be tax consequences if you get a private student loan settlement. It is a good idea to consult a tax professional for more information.
In 2015, the Department of Treasury issued a ruling that discharges of federal student loan debts for Corinthian borrowers will not be considered taxable income. In July 2018, the Department of Treasury (I.R.S.) issued a ruling extending the 2015 relief for Corinthian federal student loan borrowers to Corinthian private student loan borrowers. (There are similar rulings for students who attended schools owned by ACI).