Optometrists and student loan debt cancellation: What you need to know

October 5, 2022
Learn if you qualify for federal student loan debt cancellation, the next steps to take, and how to control your student loan debt if you don't.
sticky note stating 'student loans' with scissors cutting in half

Recently it was announced that, along with the end of the student loan payment holiday, some borrowers would qualify for student loan debt cancellation up to $20,000. With this announcement came many questions surrounding qualifications & procedures, but also how to manage student loans or lower monthly payments for those who do not qualify for the debt cancellation.

AOAExcel and our student loan refinancing partner, Laurel Road are here to guide AOA members through the student loan payment re-start process.


Do doctors of optometry qualify for the student loan debt cancellation?

Yes, depending on an individual’s income level, an optometrist may qualify for student loan debt cancellation.

  • In order to qualify for up to $10,000 of debt cancellation an individual must have an annual income below $125,000 (for individuals) or $250,000 (for married couples or heads of households.
  • If you received a Pell Grant and meet the above income threshold you will be eligible for up to $20,000 in student loan debt cancellation.

Do I need to do anything in order to receive the debt cancellation?

If the U.S. Department of Education already has your income data (you filed taxes over the last 2 years) you will receive your relief automatically. If the Department of Education does not have your income data, you will need to submit it via an application that will be made available in early October. You can sign up to be notified when this application becomes available at the Department of Education subscription page. According to the Department of Education, a borrower should expect to receive the relief within 4-6 weeks after submitting the application.

What if I don’t qualify for debt cancellation – what can I do to control my student loan debt?

If you do not qualify for student loan debt cancellation – or the cancellation does not apply to your entire student loan balance – there are still some great options to assist you in taking control of your student loan debt.

First, if you are looking to improve your student loan interest rate and repayment terms, refinancing your student loans may be a good option for you. Refinancing enables you to pay off your original student loans and obtain a new loan under a different, potentially lower interest rate and/or shorter repayment term. AOA members receive a 0.25% rate discount 1 by refinancing with AOAExcel’s partner, Laurel Road. You can apply now or check your rates in a matter of minutes. 2

For federal student loans, you can also lower your monthly payments by utilizing Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) options such as Pay As You Earn (PAYE), Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) and Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR), which are all based on your adjusted gross income and family size. You can learn more about these options with this Laurel Road resource.

If you currently work at, or plan to work at, a non-profit or government entity enrolling in Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) may be right for you. PSLF allows borrowers to have their Federal Direct Loans forgiven after 10 years of on-time payments. You can learn more about PSLF here.

Finally, if your student loans were in default at the time of the pause, now is a great time to get them out of default status. The CARES Act provided protections against borrowers who had loans in default that will no longer apply after December 31, 2022. There are a few options to help you get back on track including loan rehabilitation, loan consolidation, and paying in full.

Have additional questions? Be sure to attend AOAExcel’s Navigating the Student Loan Payment Re-start with Confidence Workshop on Wednesday, November 2, 2022 at 8PM ET. AOAExcel & Laurel Road encourage AOA members to bring their own questions to the workshop or email questions to webinars@laurelroad.com ahead of time.

Are you ready to refinance now? Check your rates in less than 5 minutes without any effect on your credit score 2.


All credit products are subject to credit approval. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association. All products offered by KeyBank N.A.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION: The U.S. Department of Education recently announced a student loan debt relief plan which includes forgiveness of up to $10,000 for qualifying federal student loans and up to $20,000 for qualifying Pell Grant recipients. For more information, please visit: https://studentaid.gov/debt-relief-announcement.
Please note that if you refinance qualifying federal student loans with Laurel Road, you may no longer be eligible for certain benefits or programs and waive your right to future benefits or programs offered on those loans. Please carefully consider your options when refinancing federal student loans and consult http://www.studentaid.gov for the most current information.

1The 0.25% American Optometric Association (AOA) member interest rate discount is offered on new student loan refinance applications from active AOA members. The AOA discount is applied to your monthly payment and will be reflected in your billing statement. The discount will end if the AOA notifies Laurel Road that the borrower is no longer a member. This offer cannot be combined with other member or employee discounts.
2Checking your rate with Laurel Road only requires a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.

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