Resident Physicians Win! | The Biden Student Debt Forgiveness Plan

by The Darwinian Doctor

The Biden student debt forgiveness plan will help most residents and fellows with student debt. Attending physicians make too much money to benefit, though.

Resident Physicians Win! | The Biden Student Debt Forgiveness Plan |

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President Biden has been teasing America with a student debt forgiveness plan ever since he took office in 2021.  He’s had his hands full navigating the pandemic up until now, but he finally got around to announcing this plan last month.  

President Biden’s plan will forgive $10,000 to $20,000 of federal student debt.  Will it actually help you?  Read on!

How much money will get forgiven?

Up to $10,000 is forgiven if:

  • You have federal student loans
  • You’re single and make less than $125,000
  • Or you’re married together make less than $250,000

Up to $20,000 is forgiven if:

  • You meet all the qualifications above AND
  • You previously received a Pell Grant 

Link to the website for more information.

Be thankful for lower income (for once)

Having a lower income makes most things harder in life.  Paying for groceries and qualifying for mortgages are both more difficult if you have a small paycheck.  But when it comes to Biden’s debt forgiveness plan, the lower income is actually to your benefit.

Resident salaries have risen a lot since I went through it in 2010, but it still ranges from around $50,000 to $80,000.  This is well below the limit for forgiveness and means that all resident physicians should qualify to get some loans forgiven.

You might think that it’s just a drop in the bucket, since the average student debt for medical school graduates was $200,000 in 2021.  But this is a great application of the phrase “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”  Accept the loan forgiveness with gratitude!

Most borrowers in the United States owe about $33,000 of student loan debt, so canceling out $10,000 is going to really make a huge difference for a lot of people. 

Read more: How I Failed at Refinancing my Student Loans | Avoid my Mistakes!

What are Pell Grants?

You might notice that you can get twice as much forgiven if you previously had Pell Grants.  

Federal Pell Grants are a form of financial aid for undergraduate students.  Since they are grants, they don’t need to be repaid like loans.  According to the Biden Administration, they only went to students from families with under $60,000 in annual income.  

Therefore, this is a good financial test to direct more forgiveness to the families and student borrowers that need it the most.  

What do I have to do to get student debt forgiveness?

You might not need to do anything.  The informational website about the program states that most borrowers will qualify automatically based on their income data with the IRS.  But if for some reason the IRS doesn’t have a recent tax return, you’ll be able to sign up online this fall or winter.  The website isn’t live yet to sign up, but you can sign up here for notifications:  Department of Education subscription page.

Not that I don’t trust the government, but I’d recommend you sign up manually just to be sure you get loan forgiveness if it’s due to you. 

Last extension of the loan payment pause 

Most attending physicians make too much money to qualify for the loan forgiveness.  However, there was something in the announcement that might benefit attendings as well.

Since March 2020, many borrowers have been enjoying a moratorium on federal student loan payments and interest rates.  While this didn’t cancel any debt, it allowed borrowers to put their student loan payments on hold and not accumulate more interest in the interim.  

Borrowers who were planning for Public Service Loan Forgiveness were also allowed to accumulate payments towards full loan forgiveness throughout the loan pause.  This is despite making zero dollar payments each month and accumulating no further interest throughout this period. 

Under the newest announcement, this pause is being extended one last time through the end of 2022.  

Responsible payers can get a refund!

If you continued to make payments on your federal loans during the pandemic, you might be kicking yourself because you have no more loans to benefit from the student debt forgiveness.  Not to worry.  You can apply for a refund from your loan servicer and then apply for loan forgiveness!

You can be refunded for all your payments since March 13, 2020.  

Call your loan servicer about this and go to this page at to see more information. 

There are losers in this plan

People who’ve paid off their federal loans before the pandemic are not eligible for anything.  Also, if you made a mistake like I did and accidentally turned your student loans into a line of credit, you can’t turn back the clock either. 

But for many borrowers, this announcement has been all good news.


President Biden finally delivered on his promise to cancel (some) student loan debt for the nation’s borrowers.  Residents and fellows should all be within the income limits to have $10,000 to $20,000 of their federal student loans forgiven.  

This may seem like a drop in the bucket for most medical school graduates, who usually owe around $200,000.  But there’s no reason not to be happy about this development if you qualify.  

The timing of the student debt forgiveness plan might seem a little strange, as it comes right as the Federal Reserve is ferociously raising interest rates to fight inflation.  Injecting more money into our economy is probably not exactly going to help the situation.  

But for many borrowers out there, the economy isn’t their biggest worry, and $10,000 of relief is sweet news indeed.

If you’re an attending physician and this news doesn’t help your student loan situation, it’s about time to start thinking about finally refinancing your high interest student loans.  

My recommended student loan refinancing marketplace is Credible.  You can use them as a resource to compare rates across the industry.  They’re a sponsor of this blog, and if I could refinance my loans, I’d do it with them!

Lock in your rate while you can!

— The Darwinian Doctor

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This is my official take on student loans, for the record:

@thedarwiniandoctor The 1 secret about student loans that no one will tell you. #investing #studentloans #doctorsoftiktok #financialfreedom #refinance #moneytok #investingtips #medstudent #realestateinvesting ♬ Paris – Else

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