Loan Forgiveness for Social Workers

NASW is promoting loan forgiveness for social workers as part of its on-going work to improve working conditions, salaries, and other benefits for members of the profession and to ensure that consumers have access to qualified professionals. NASW will continue its support for proposals to provide loan forgiveness for social workers in child welfare and schools, while also working to secure loan forgiveness and educational supports for social workers in other practice areas. It is important to note that NASW does not determine loan forgiveness eligibility, nor does NASW disperse loan forgiveness funds. However, NASW does offer scholarships.

Liberty Mutual


NASW promotes student loan forgiveness as part of its ongoing effort to improve working conditions, salaries, and other benefits for social workers and to ensure that consumers have access to qualified professionals. As many as 37% of public four-year school graduates have too much debt to manage on a social work salary. According to the Council on Social Work Education’s report, 2013 Statistics on Social Work Education in the United States, 81% of baccalaureate graduates, 80.5% of master’s graduates, and 65.5% of doctoral graduates have loan debt. The mean amount of loan debt ranged from $31,880 to $42,149.1 While there are at least three federally authorized loan forgiveness programs available to social workers, additional resources are required.


College Cost Reduction Act of 2007: This act established a new Public Service Loan Forgiveness program that discharges any remaining educational debt after 10 years of full-time employment in public service, including government and nonprofit agencies. Although this law is a step in eradicating student loan debt, the 10-year service requirement, during which loan repayment must be made, may be difficult for social workers. It can be challenging to meet these requirements due to the combination of low salaries and the rising cost of education.

National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program: This program allows licensed clinical social workers $50,000 to repay student loans in exchange for two years of serving in a community-based site in a high-need Health Professional Shortage Area.

Higher Education Act: The 2008 reauthorization included expanded loan forgiveness provisions. However, the debt cancellation program, though authorized, has never been funded by Congress.

Policy Solution

Reauthorize the Higher Education Act Loan Forgiveness provisions and appropriate funding to support their use and implementation for social workers.

1 Council on Social Work Education. (2013). 2013 statistics on social work education in the United States.

Wartburg College School of Social Work Student Video "The Social Worker's Fateful Dilemma"


Loan Forgiveness Stories from Social Workers

Social workers often have school loan debt that exceeds their annual salary. NASW collects stories of loan debt to assist in our efforts to advocate for loan forgiveness for social workers.

Read Their Stories

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Web Resource

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website allows students to compare college tuition, job placement, and student loan default rates between multiple schools. Social workers will find useful resources at The Financial Aid Comparison Shopper.

Department of Education Web Resource

The U. S. Department of Education released an Employment Certification Package to help borrowers track their progress toward qualifying for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

You can download the materials below from the FederalStudentAid website which include:

Dear Borrower Letter

Instructions for Completing Employment Certification for Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Employment Certification for Public Service Loan Forgiveness
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