California Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

Looking for ways to get your California student loans forgiven or need a new repayment plan? We've got you covered, come over and have a look at this article on student loans in California

Updated by Sharan Kumar on 10th June 2019

Pointers to help if you have student loans in California

If you live in the sunny state of California and have student loans be it if you are in school right now or have graduated and started working there, but need to get these loans off as soon as possible. Well, we've got you covered, here are a couple of student loan repayment assistance programs that can help you depending on your needs and your qualifications.

Free tuition -

Well, this is an option for those that are entering college now or for those who are already attending college but not for graduates. If you are either of these then you should be able to qualify for the free tuition through either of the following programs. There are two of these - The free city program and the Cal Grants Program.

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The Free City Program

It is a program that is made for those residents of the city of San Francisco who are attending city college, a two-year community college. The program is available with no regard for your needs. Anyone is eligible to apply for this through the City College of San Francisco website.

Free City is just for those who reside in the city of San Francisco, but Cal grant is another program that applies to those in the state of California and is a much broader program. According to the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC), Cal Grants are eligible to be used at the following schools -

  • California State University

  • California Community College

  • University of California

  • And Certain independent, career, or technical colleges in the state

The Cal Grants Program

This program comes in three variations - A, B, and C.

The eligibility requirements and the final amounts that are awarded for these programs may vary based on your FAFSA, your school, your GPA and some other factors. You can find some more details on the CSAC website.

A few other specialized grant programs are as follows -

  • California Chafee Grant for Foster Youth

  • California National Guard Education Assistance Award Program

  • College Tuition Fee Waiver for Veteran Dependents

  • Law Enforcement Personnel Dependents Grant Program

  • You also can find some more programs on the CSAC website.

CDA Foundation Student Loan Repayment Grant

A student loan repayment grant is offered by the California Dental Association (CDA) Foundation for those new dentists who are working in underserved communities. You are able to receive up to $105,000, which is paid to you over a period of 3 years, for repayment of your California Student loans.

But if you aren’t able to get that grant, you should still be able to earn an award for up to $5,000 for your education expenses as a runner-up. You can apply for this on the CDA website.

California Bachelor of Science Nursing Loan Repayment Program

You are eligible for this program if you are a California nurse with California student loans.

According to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, these are the details you need to know to apply for this program -

  • You need to have a Bachelor of Science nursing degree.

  • You need to be a California licensed Registered Nurse (RN).

  • You need to be giving direct patient care as an RN in an Underserved or shortage area or in a county, state, prison or veterans facility.

  • Nurses who receive this award must agree to work in one of the above areas for two years.

  • If you are selected for this award. You are eligible to receive up to $8,000 for student loan repayment. You also can try for a second-time award of $11,000, but you will be required to agree to work for a period of another two years.

California Mental Health Loan Assumption Program

This award is applicable for those professionals that are currently working in the Public Mental Health System. According to OSHPD, some of the positions that are eligible for this are mentioned below and are of the basis of the need in the county that you are currently working in -

  • Marriage therapists

  • Family therapists

  • Social workers

  • Psychologists

  • Psychiatrists

  • Clinical counselors or clinical counselor interns

  • Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners

  • Postdoctoral psychological assistants or trainees

  • Other staff within such facilities

You will be able to find more info on this and also whether your work qualifies you for this award by going over to the OSHPD Website.

If you get selected for one of the awards, you are able to receive up to a max amount of $10,000 for your California student loan Repayment. In Return, you are required to agree to work for a period of one year.

California State Loan Repayment Program

There is the California State Loan Repayment Program that helps you repay your student loans in California if you are currently working or are willing to work in one of the following fields in accordance with OSHPD -

  • Physician assistants

  • Nurse practitioners

  • Certified nurse midwives

  • Primary care physicians

  • Dentists

  • Dental hygienists

  • Pharmacists

  • Mental or behavioral health providers

Although you are asked to work in these areas, it will be accountable only if you are working in an area in which these services are of shortage, which you can find more info about on the OSHPD website. Also, the award amount tends to vary.

This program allows you to receive an amount up to a max of $110,000 as long as you are a full-time student of half of that if you are a part-time student. Although you are required to commit to full-time status for at least 2 years or part-time status for at least 4 years.

Steven M. Thompson Physician Corps Loan Repayment Program

You are eligible to qualify for this if you are a California Allopathic or Osteopathic physician or surgeon with California student loans. These are also some of the requirements according to OSHPD -

  • You are not allowed to serve any other programs.

  • You need to be licensed to practice in the state of California.

  • You are required to work in an area of Shortage.

  • With this award, you are eligible to receive up to an amount of $105,000 for the repayment of your California Student loans

  • But you will be required to work full time in the designated shortage area for at least a period of 3 years.

California Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAPs) offered by your alma mater

If you are unable to qualify for any of the awards that are mentioned above, you need not worry for there are other ways that you may be able to receive help. One such way is through a student loan repayment assistance program (LRAP) that is offered by your alma mater.

You will be able to find out if your alma mater offers any sort of LRAP by looking through their website or by contacting their financial aid office. If there is any luck then maybe there could be a plan for you to get help from.

The Statute of Limitations on Student loans in the State of California

If you are facing student loan default in the state of California, have a look into the statute of limitations on the debt as this is regarding your student loans. Also, have a point in your mind that this applies only to private student loans.

Usually, after some number of years which is decided priorly, your loan becomes "time-barred". When that happens, debt collectors can no longer pursue you for the said loan nor can they sue you to get their money back and clear your debt.

When this statute of limitations expires depending on the type of loan you have. Student loans fall under the category of "written contracts", which expire at the time period of 4 years in the state of California.

In simple words, if you have a private student loan debt that is more than 4 years old and a debt collector attempts to sue you to collect this debt, there is only one way the debt collector is able to win this, and that is through the fact that you do not show up at the court proceedings and prove with the help of the statute of limitations to prove that you no longer are obliged to pay back the loan that you owe.

Another important detail that requires you to be aware of is that if your private loans are in default and you make a payment on them, you restart the clock on the statute of limitations.

In essence this means that when you are 1 month away from completing your time of 4 years on the statute of limitations and you make a payment then you essentially reset the clock and will need to wait for a period of 4 years again to be eligible to dismiss your loan with the help of the statute of limitations.

Federal income-driven repayment programs

In the instance that you have federal student loans and are facing issues with making payments, you can proceed and take advantage of income-driven repayment (IDR) programs that limit your monthly obligation to pay towards the loan to an amount that is 10% of your income.

These Income-Driven Repayment programs allow you to stay up to date with payments on your loans without having to go through deferment or forbearance. But it is also important to make a note that though you could end up paying a lot more in terms of interest over time even if you are making much smaller payments per month.

Your loans may be forgiven after a period of 20-25 years (depending on the loan repayment program), But by that time you might have ended up paying a lot more in comparison to what you might have originally owed and you may be taxed on the amount that you get forgiven at the end of this time period.

When you being to earn more money, you should put some of it away so that you can repay your loans off faster.

Student loan refinancing

Yet another way to get your payments under control is by refinancing your student loan debt to a lower rate of interest. This works very well with private student loans. You are able to refinance the loans to a shorter term or a much lower rate to get out of debt faster or with much less to pay.

You are also able to refinance your federal student loans. If you do not qualify for the income-driven repayment plan, and you have good credit, refinancing your federal student loans can save you a ton of money. But you also lose the potential to go on an income-driven repayment plan later, if your financial situation happens to change.

Have a good thought over your options and decide if refinancing is the right move for you. It is also a possibility if you consider refinancing your private loans, and then separately consolidate your federal student loans if you hope to keep some of the protections that federal student loans have to offer.

Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Those borrowers that work for a government or a non-profit organization have the opportunity to get their loans completely wiped clean with the help of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). In order for you to be able to qualify, you will be required to work in a qualifying job whilst making 120 consecutive payments over your eligible loans.

But before you begin working at a qualifying job for the purpose of receiving a PSLF, you need to make sure your federal student loans qualify for this and also make sure that your employer also qualifies and double check that. In order to be most effective, you better be on an income-driven repayment plan, since most standard repayment plans are designed to have your loans paid off in a shorter duration of about 10 years.

How to live your dream even with California student loans

Having to repay your student loans can turn out be a very lonely journey, especially if your loan debt is not getting any smaller as the years roll by.

You should consider options to expedite your repayment like refinancing your student loans to a lower interest rate or paying extra whenever you can. But that isn't where it stops.

If you want to have a part in changing the laws regarding student loans then take your ideas straight to the powers that can have that made, your local representatives.

On GovTrack, you should be able to find a list of your current California Senators and California representatives. Reach out and have your voice heard, it can be more powerful than you might imagine in your mind.


So to talk in brief about loan repayment and forgiveness and how to get it rolling.

  • By utilizing the programs that are mentioned above if you are eligible.

  • Getting a hold of your rights including those that talk about the statute of limitations on debt.

  • Keeping in mind that you aren't alone in your debt payoff journey.

Although student loan debt might be a difficult hill to climb and there's no question about that, If you follow the steps and the advice that's given above and remember to use the programs that are available to you in California, you should be able to come out of it like a winner.



  Which of the three types of Cal Grant is applicable for you?

Well, the Cal Grant program comes with three types in that they vary between each other based on your FAFSA and their requirements for you be eligible. Some more details are given on the Federal student aid Website. So go over have a look and find out which one suits you best.

  What other options do I have other than the ones mentioned above?

California Chafee Grant for Foster Youth

  • California National Guard Education Assistance Award Program

  • College Tuition Fee Waiver for Veteran Dependents

  • Law Enforcement Personnel Dependents Grant Program

  • You also can find some more programs on the CSAC website.

  How much can I get as a nurse through the California Bachelor of Science Nurse Loan program?

  • Well if you apply for a term of 2 years and get accepted you initially get $8,000.

  • But if you continue and opt to work for another 2 years you will be awarded another $11,000.

  • So in total, you will be able to get $18,000 if you choose to work for a period of 4 years.

  How do you get your student loans forgiven?

  • Become a public school teacher in a low-income area

  • Join the military

  • Apply for the Income-Based Repayment Plan

  • Get a public service, government or non-profit job

  Are student loans forgiven after 20 years?

In the case of PAYE, you do not need to pay more than 10% of your discretionary income, and your loan is eligible for forgiveness after a period of 201 years. This program also sometimes called the Obama student loan forgiveness. The difference is that some loans that go back till 2007 are able to qualify for this program.

  How can I get out of paying student loans?

  • Enroll in income-driven repayment

  • Pursue a career in public service

  • Apply for a disability discharge

  • Investigate loan repayment assistance programs (LRAPs)

  • Ask your employer

  • Serve your country

  • Play a game such as giving

  • File for bankruptcy.

  Who qualifies for California student loan forgiveness programs?

There are different types of loan forgiveness programs offered in California and each one has its own eligibility requirements. 

For example

(i) Anyone can qualify for The Free City program residing in the city of San Francisco.

(ii) The California Bachelor of Science Nursing Loan Repayment Program is for registered nurses working in underserved or shortage areas, etc.

  How do I apply for student loan forgiveness programs in California?

There are different types of student loan forgiveness programs available in California and each one has different steps to follow for applying for it.

For example- To apply for the Free City program, the students have to complete the one-page Free City Application which is part of the online registration process. After registering, students have to complete either a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or a California Dream Act Application.

  What are the best student loan forgiveness programs in California?

There are many student loan forgiveness programs and we cannot say which one is the best. This is because these programs are created as per the different requirements and only if you meet these requirements then you can qualify for one. One who is qualified for one program doesn't necessarily mean that others will qualify as well.

For example- The California Bachelor of Science Nursing Loan Repayment Program is only for registered nurses working in underserved or shortage areas, etc.

  What happens if you cannot pay student loans?

If you have a hard time making student loan payments, you could go for the various options given to you by your lender, like changing your repayment plan, deferment, forbearance or even student loan forgiveness (if eligible).