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Will SallieMae or Navient Forgiven My Private Student Loan if I’m Disabled?

Written by Steve Rhode


Dear Steve,

I have been disabled for 84 months. My federal student loans were discharged almost two years ago, but Sallie Mae/Navient says my disability is not permanent (even though the federal definition of permanent is being disabled for at least 60 months), and will not discharge my loan.

Does Sallie Mae/Navient have to use the same definition of “permanently disabled” for the purposes of discharging private student loan debt as that used for discharging federal student loans?



Dear Rebecca,

On their mutual websites, SallieMae and Navient are extremely silent about any permanent disability forgiveness of private student loans. It’s like an information vacuum which leads me to believe they have devised their own rules and process on this situation. When it comes to federal student loans and disability they are open, but closed for any helpful information on private loans.

Since these are private loans, the lender is not required to forgive the loans no matter how disabled you might be.

In the past there were publicly available documents which talked about a temporary repayment holiday if you were determined to be disabled. Those documents have been removed from the web as far as I can see.

When it comes to private student loans it’s the lenders ball and they can make up whatever rules the borrower agrees to and change the rules or take their ball home, any time they want.

You are left in the ugly position of calling the private lender and asking for information on their process and jumping through their hoops, you can default on the loan and then try to negotiate something in collections, or you can hire an attorney who is licensed in your state to represent you.

It sounds as if you did call and they gave you a less than favorable answer.

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About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.


  • I was given a $20,000 private loan and another $20,000 from SallieMae back in 2006. I was making at that time $12.00 an hour. I am 41 and the loans both combined have totaled to over $200,000 +. Most of this is the interest. I am current in a Chapter 13 which halts payment till the Chapter 13 has been satisfied. The problem with that is it is still accruing interest, and to add more fire to the flame I am a dialysis patient and have other health issues. I need help. Can anyone help me. I contacted Navient and they sent me the disability application. I had my doctor fill his portion and sent it back. Now I am awaiting their final decision.

    • Last I checked, the private loan disability program was not a forgiveness but a deferment. Do you have any idea if they will now award a permanent forgiveness based on disability?

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