By most estimates, there is approximately $1.8 trillion in outstanding student loan debt in the United States. The vast majority of that debt consists of federal student loans, which are loans either issued directly or guaranteed by the federal government. But a sizable portion of outstanding student loan debt consists of purely private student loans — approximately $136 billion, according to NerdWallet and MeasureOne.
As a general rule, federal student loans have many more options for repayment, default resolution, and loan forgiveness. For example, income-driven repayment programs, loan rehabilitation programs, Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and school-based administrative discharges are generally only available for federal student loans, as provided by federal law. Private student loans are typically governed only by the terms and conditions of the underlying loan promissory note, which usually does not provide many options to the borrower.