Navigating Student Loans Forgiveness Programme: Strategies for Managing Education Loan

Student loan forgiveness is a concept that has gained significant attention worldwide. Across the globe, the idea of a student loan forgiveness programme has garnered substantial recognition as a crucial element in the realm of higher education ensuring financial security for students. While there isn’t an official student loan forgiveness program, as seen in countries like the United States, the issue of mounting student loan debt remains a pressing concern for millions of young individuals pursuing higher education.

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In recent years, India has witnessed substantial growth in the number of students pursuing post-secondary education. This expansion of educational opportunities has resulted in an increased demand for educational loans as students seek to finance their aspirations for a better tomorrow. These loans have been instrumental in enabling students to access quality education; however, they often come with the significant burden of debt repayment after graduation.

In this article, we intend to explore the current state of student loan debt in India, challenges faced by the borrowers and its implications for the nation’s economy. We also examine the government’s initiatives for student loan forgiveness programmes, considering their effectiveness and the arguments for and against such programmes. 

Additionally, we look to the international context to draw lessons from countries with successful student loan forgiveness models. Finally, we discuss the future prospects of student loan forgiveness programmes in India, considering potential changes in government policy and emerging trends in the education loan programmes on offer.

The Current State of Student Loan Debt in India

Student loans are riskier than some other loans. It is also tricky to predict if a student will get a good job to repay the loan already availed. In the evolving economic scenario, the job market is unpredictable as well as unstable. This has a cascading effect on the ability of borrowers to repay the loan.

A leading newspaper report states that after a span of five years, there has been a noteworthy shift in the education loans landscape. Not only did it return to positive growth, but it also saw a substantial surge of 17 percent during the financial year ending March 2023.

Based on the data provided by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the total outstanding education loan portfolio expanded by 17 percent, reaching ₹96,847 crore in 2022–23, in contrast to ₹82,723 crore in the preceding year.

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The rising student loan burden can have broader economic impact. Graduates with substantial debt have a limited purchasing power. It has a serious repercussion on their ability to contribute to the economy through consumption or investment. It can also affect their creditworthiness, making it difficult to secure loans for other purposes.

Government Initiatives for Student Loan Forgiveness Programme in India

Government initiatives for student loan forgiveness programmes in India have been implemented to address the issue of student loan debt. Some student loan forgiveness programmes and policies, their effectiveness, and the challenges they face are as follows:

Interest Subsidy Schemes: The government has introduced interest subsidy schemes to support economically weaker sections of students. Under these schemes, the government pays the interest on student loans while the student is pursuing their education, thus reducing the immediate financial burden.

Merit-Based Loan Waivers: Some of the States in India, for instance, Kerala Government’s “Vidya Samunnathi Educational Loan Scheme” have introduced loan waiver programmes for students who excel academically. These programmes offer partial or full forgiveness of loans as a reward for outstanding academic performance in examinations.

Loan Forgiveness for Specific Professions: In certain cases, the government offers student loan forgiveness to those who pursue careers in specific sectors such as teaching, healthcare, or rural development. This is done to incentivize individuals to work in areas facing a shortage of skilled professionals.

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For additional education loan subsidy schemes.

Evaluation of Effectiveness of Government Initiatives

Positive Impact on Accessibility: These initiatives have, to some extent, made higher education more accessible to economically disadvantaged students. Interest subsidies, in particular, have reduced the overall cost of education.

Mixed Results: The effectiveness of these initiatives varies. Interest subsidy schemes have generally been more successful, while merit-based loan waivers and profession-specific forgiveness programs face challenges in implementation and equitable distribution.

Challenges for Student Loan Forgiveness Programme

Fiscal Sustainability: One of the most significant challenges is the fiscal burden these programmes impose on the government. The word ‘fiscal’ is used to describe something that relates to government money or public money. Complete waiver of student loans on a large scale would require substantial financial resources, which will only add to the fiscal burden.

Administrative and Implementation Challenges: The administration of these programmes is often complex. Identifying eligible beneficiaries, preventing fraud, and ensuring the loans are forgiven in a timely manner can be challenging.

Equity Concerns: These programmes may not be equitable, as they benefit certain categories of students while leaving others with the full burden of their loans. Equity concerns in education loan waiver programmes relate to developing solutions that address the barriers faced by students from marginalized backgrounds. This can perpetuate social and economic disparities. 

Need for Transparency and Accountability: To ensure the effectiveness of these initiatives, there is a need for greater transparency, rigorous evaluation, and accountability in the distribution of benefits.

Arguments Against Student Loan Forgiveness Programme in India

Budgetary Constraints: Implementing a widespread student loan forgiveness programme can place a significant burden on the government’s finances. The government would need to allocate substantial resources to cover the costs of forgiving student loans, potentially diverting funds from other essential sectors such as healthcare, infrastructure, or education.

Impact on National Debt: Forgiving student debt can prove to be costly for the government. Those costs are recorded as deficit impact immediately which would immediately reduce the value of government asset holdings. They are also reflected in higher future debt levels. The accumulation of student loan debt forgiveness can augment the national debt. This can affect the country’s creditworthiness and ability to secure favorable borrowing terms, potentially impacting its overall economic stability.

Encourages Irresponsible Borrowing: Blanket loan forgiveness programmes may encourage students to borrow more debt than they can reasonably handle. This moral hazard could lead to students making risky financial decisions, knowing that their debts could be forgiven in the future.

Impact on Future Academic Decisions: If students expect loan forgiveness as a guaranteed outcome, they may choose more expensive educational options, contributing to rising tuition costs and potentially overburdening the overall financial system.

Alternatives to Blanket Forgiveness

Targeted Support: Instead of blanket forgiveness, targeted support that addresses the needs of specific groups of borrowers, such as those facing extreme financial hardship or pursuing careers in public service would have a great outcome. This approach aims to provide assistance where it’s most needed without affecting everyone’s loans.

Income-based Repayment: Strengthening and promoting income-based repayment schemes, where borrowers repay their loans based on their income potential. This approach ties loan repayment to the borrower’s financial capacity, potentially reducing the burden on lower-income individuals.

Strategies for Managing Student Education Loan

Given the escalating cost of higher education, education loan programmes have proved to be a blessing in disguise for students who want to continue pursuing their higher studies. While the student education loans help one to pursue their dreams, rising cost of interest rates have made it tougher for anyone to avail education loans. And therefore potential applicants must save themselves from additional financial burden by researching and approaching those lenders who offer loans at comparatively lower interest rates.

Applicants must understand the difference between collateral free or collateral-based education loans.  Leading lenders in India offer education loans with the motive to fund a variety of courses. It is very important to choose a suitable education programme along with a steady repayment plan.

Selecting a correct education loan repayment plan while keeping a constant focus on the moratorium period will help the borrower know the time they have to find a job and save some amount before they pay their first EMI.

It is always advisable to opt for a manageable shorter loan tenure. Despite higher EMIs, borrowers can save a lot on the monthly interest amount. However unaffordable EMIs must be avoided.  It is also advisable to set up automatic debit payments to avoid missing out on loan payments that could be detrimental to the financial health as well as the credit score of the borrower. A quick repayment of loan will not only remove a huge burden off the shoulder of the borrower, but it will also free up monetary assets which can be diverted towards more productive uses such as investing. It is also advisable to start planning and working outside the study schedule and manage time to start a side hustle, or part-time paying job including teaching and earning online. Last but not the least, frugal living is the key. Limiting one’s expenses and using the supplementary income towards the debt will help get rid of the loan as early as possible. Prioritizing the needs of the borrowers over wants has the golden key to unlock the door of a prosperous tomorrow without a financial burden.

Examples of Student Loan Forgiveness Programmes in Other Countries

United States (US)

Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plans: The US government offers various IDR plans that cap loan payments at a percentage of the borrower’s income and forgive any remaining balance after a set number of years of qualifying payments.

United Kingdom (UK)

Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR): In the UK, student loans are repaid based on a borrower’s income. Outstanding loan balances are forgiven after a specific number of years.

Postgraduate Loans: Postgraduate loans in the UK are typically forgiven after a set number of years, similar to undergraduate loans.


Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP): In Australia, student loans are repaid through the tax system. Loan balances are forgiven after a certain number of years based on income and repayment thresholds.


Sweden has a loan forgiveness programme where the government forgives a portion of the student loans for graduates who start their own businesses or work in specific underserved regions.

Lessons India Can Learn from International Models

According to a report released by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the student debt in India amounts to ₹1,45,785 crore as of August 26, 2022. Students who exclusively rely on education loans face heavy pressure to repay their loans in absence of job security and high interest rates. It may be pointed out that the annual interest on education loans in India ranges between 7.30% and 16%, with additional processing fees. While it’s true that higher education in India is considerably far more expensive for some courses than the US, a loan waiver programme that is being pursued in America is difficult to implement in India given its diversity and market size. Lessons that India can learn from international model of financing student-education loan programmes are as follows:

Targeted Loan Forgiveness: India can learn from international models where loan forgiveness is often targeted towards specific sectors, such as public service, healthcare, or entrepreneurship. Targeting can help address critical needs and incentivize graduates to enter essential fields.

Income-based Repayment: India can consider implementing income-based repayment schemes that adjust loan payments according to a borrower’s income. This approach can ensure that repayments are more manageable and align with the borrower’s financial capacity.

Safeguarding Against Moral Hazards: India should carefully design loan forgiveness programmes to avoid creating moral hazards by ensuring that forgiveness is tied to responsible financial behavior and clear eligibility criteria.

Programme Evaluation: Learning from other countries, India can implement rigorous programme evaluation mechanisms to assess the effectiveness of loan forgiveness programmes, including their impact on educational access, economic outcomes, and fiscal responsibility.

Standardization and Simplification: India can simplify its loan forgiveness processes, making it easier for borrowers to understand and access the benefits. Standardizing loan terms and forgiveness criteria across lenders can reduce complexity.

Balancing Fiscal Responsibility: India can draw lessons on managing the fiscal impact of loan forgiveness by considering the long-term sustainability and budgetary implications, ensuring responsible fiscal management.

Preventing Exploitative Practices: India can establish regulations and safeguards to prevent exploitative lending practices by financial institutions, setting clear terms and interest rate caps to protect borrowers.

Future Prospects for Student Loan Forgiveness Programme in India

Future prospects for student loan forgiveness in India are subject to several factors, including potential changes in government policy and emerging trends in student finance.

Potential Changes in Government Policy

Political Priorities: The future prospects of student loan forgiveness will depend on the political priorities of the government in power. Changes in government policy can significantly impact the approach to student loan forgiveness programmes.

Economic Conditions: Economic conditions and fiscal constraints will play a crucial role in shaping government policy. Economic growth, budgetary capacity, and the need for social and economic support programmes will influence the direction of student loan forgiveness initiatives.

Public Demand: Public demand and advocacy for student loan forgiveness can drive policy changes. As awareness of the student debt issue grows, there may be increased pressure on the government to address it.

Adaptation to International Models: The Indian government may consider adopting elements from successful international models of student loan forgiveness programmes to create a more effective and equitable approach.

Emerging Trends and Innovations in Student Finance

Income-Share Agreements (ISAs): ISAs are gaining popularity worldwide. In an ISA framework, students agree to pay a percentage of their income for a set period after graduation in exchange for educational funding. This model aligns the cost of education with post-graduation earning potential and may become an alternative to traditional loan programmes.

FinTech Solutions: Innovative financial technology solutions are emerging in the education financing sector. These include platforms for peer-to-peer lending, digital loan origination, and improved loan servicing, which may make student loans more accessible and manageable.

Private Sector Involvement: Partnerships between private companies and educational institutions are creating new funding models. These include employer-sponsored education programmes and income-based repayment options offered by the private lenders.

Alternative Education Models: The growth of online education, short-term courses, and vocational training may change the way students finance their education. As traditional four-year degrees become less common, students may explore more affordable and flexible financing options.

Lifelong Learning: The concept of lifelong learning is gaining prominence. Student loan forgiveness and financial assistance programmes may adapt to support individuals in pursuing education throughout their careers.

Sustainability and Responsible Lending: Emerging trends focus on sustainable and responsible lending practices, emphasizing the ethical treatment of borrowers and long-term fiscal viability.


The current state of student loan debt in India reveals a significant growth in the education loan landscape, driven by the aspirations of the country’s youth for higher education. While this surge is promising, it also presents a substantial challenge—the burden of student loan debt.

The implications of this debt extend far beyond individual borrowers, affecting the broader economy. Graduates burdened with student loans face challenges in building their futures, contributing to economic growth, and accessing credit for other life goals.

Recognising the urgency of this issue, the Government of India has implemented various initiatives for student loan forgiveness programmes. It aims to alleviate the financial strain on graduates, incentivize academic excellence, and address critical needs in various sectors. However, they also face challenges in terms of fiscal sustainability, targeting accuracy, and the potential for moral hazard.

Looking to the future, the prospects for student loan forgiveness programmes in India will depend on the potential changes in government policy and the emergence of innovative trends in student finance. As the nation grapples with the multifaceted challenge of student loan debt, it’s essential to strike a balance between fostering educational access, supporting economic growth, and ensuring fiscal responsibility.

Important Links

Kerala Government’s “Vidya Samunnathi Educational Loan Scheme”

Student loan forgiveness for those who pursue careers in specific sectors such as teaching, healthcare, or rural development

Subsidy schemes to support economically weaker sections of students

Student Loan Forgiveness – FAQs

What is a student loan forgiveness programme?

A student loan forgiveness program is a structured initiative that allows individuals to have a part or the entire education loans forgiven or discharged under certain qualifying conditions, such as working in a specific field, making a certain number of on-time payments, or meeting other criteria outlined by the programme.

What are the consequences of defaulting on student loans in India?

If the student-borrowers fail to repay within the mentioned timeline, it is bound to have an adverse impact on the creditworthiness of the borrower. The bank will report the defaulters to the credit bureaus. Being classified as a defaulter can severely affect credit score and limit one’s access to fresh credit.

Are there any official student loan forgiveness programmes in India?

India does not have official student loan forgiveness programmes similar to those in countries like the United States. However, the government has implemented various initiatives aimed at reducing the burden of student loan debt for specific or targeted groups of borrowers.

What are the governmental initiatives for student loan forgiveness programmes in India?

Government initiatives in India include interest subsidy schemes that reduce the immediate financial burden by paying the interest on student loans while the borrower is pursuing education. There are also merit-based loan waivers for academically outstanding students and loan forgiveness programmes for specific professions such as teaching, healthcare, and rural development.


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