An article in today's Wall Street Journal exposes a worrisome statistic: 31.5% of Americans encumbered by student loans are at least one month behind on payment.
That's a higher delinquency rate than credit cards, auto loans (8.5%), and mortgages.
The article reported on a narrower study that included only those consumers who are currently obligated to repay. In other words, the study excluded millions of Americans who are not yet required to make payments.
See this reference chart to see if your loan qualifies for forgiveness, cancellation, or discharge.
Here's an article that also discusses discharge while emphasizing the "teacher forgiveness" and "public-service employee" discharge options.