Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is a federal program that could erase your federal student loan debt. This program is designed to support people working in lower-paying, but vitally important public service jobs, like non-profit work, social work, healthcare, and others.

It is important for you to understand that there are requirements you must meet to receive this loan forgiveness – your student loans won’t just be automatically forgiven after a couple of years of public service work. There are several requirements you must meet to receive public service loan forgiveness. You must meet these requirements for a total of 120 monthly payments, so it is important that you are on track early on. Make sure to read all the requirements carefully. After meeting all the requirements, and after you’ve paid 120 monthly payments (that’s at least 10 years of cumulative payments), you will need to submit an application to apply for PSLF to have your debt forgiven. Here are some steps you can take to ensure you receive the loan forgiveness you are expecting.

  1. Have the Right Type of Loan – Federal Direct Loans 
    • Federal Direct Loans are the ONLY type of loan that qualifies for PSLF. If you have a different type of federal loan, for example, Family Federal Education Loans (FFEL) or Perkins, don’t worry! You can consolidate your loan to qualify. Word of caution here – there are many different factors to consider when consolidating a loan as this creates a new loan with new terms. Depending on your circumstance there may be pros and cons to consolidating in order to apply for PSLF.
  2. Have the Right Type of Employer:
    • You must work full-time for a qualifying employer while you are making your 120 monthly payments to be eligible for PSLF. Working full-time means working at least 30 hours per week or meeting your employer’s definition of full-time. This is about who your employer is, not your job title. Many qualifying employers include non-profits, government jobs, and public service work. Check if your employer qualifies by asking your Human Resources Department. 
  3. Be in the Right Type of Repayment Plan – Income-Driven Repayment:
    • To benefit from PSLF, you should repay your federal student loans under an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan. Income-driven repayment plans require you to update (or “recertify”) your income/family size each year. Income-driven repayment plans can be highly beneficial for borrowers that have lower-incomes. Payments can be as low as $0.00 per month, especially for borrowers facing a loss of income or job, and still, qualify towards the required 120 monthly payments for PSLF.

There are other federal repayment options that do NOT count towards PSLF. These include Extended Repayment, Graduated Repayment, and Extended-Graduated Repayment. Also, you can’t make a qualifying payment while your loans are in any of these statuses: in-school status, the grace period, deferment, forbearance, and default.

You can’t qualify for PSLF faster by making larger payments. In fact, making larger payments can create a domino effect that disqualifies future payments as well. So, you will need to make a payment equal to the exact amount owed for that month to receive credit for a qualifying PSLF payment.

For full PSLF requirements and details go to www.studentaid.gov

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