"Student loan forgiveness and loan repayment programs provide borrowers a means of having all or part of their student loan debt forgiven or repaid in exchange for work or service in specific fields or professions or following a prolonged period during which their student loan debt burden is high relative to their income. In both loan forgiveness and loan repayment programs, borrowers typically qualify for benefits by working or serving in certain capacities for a specified period of time or by satisfying other program requirements over an extended term. Upon qualifying for benefits, some or all of a borrower's student loan debt is forgiven or paid on his or her behalf. One of the most important distinctions among these types of programs is whether the availability of benefits is incorporated into the loan terms and conditions and thus considered an entitlement to qualified borrowers, or whether benefits are made available to qualified borrowers at the discretion of the entity administering the program and subject to the availability of funds. For the purposes of this report, the former types of programs are referred to as loan forgiveness while the latter are referred to as loan repayment."
CRS Report for Congress, R43571
Federation of American Scientists: http://fas.org/