If you have worked in public service for 10 years or more, you might be able to have all your student debt canceled.
Working in public service includes working for federal, state, local, tribal government or a nonprofit organizations. If you’ve worked in the public sector, you can still qualify for forgiveness even if those 10 years weren’t served consecutively.
The Department of Education made time-limited changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program that make it easier for eligible federal student loan borrowers to get forgiveness.
“Those who have served less than 10 years may now more easily get credit for their service to date toward eventual forgiveness. These changes allow eligible borrowers to gain additional credit toward forgiveness, even if they had been told previously that they had the wrong loan type,” the White House said.
In the past, there have been complex eligibility restrictions, implementation failures and poor counseling given to borrowers that have led to many not being able to receive the credit they deserve for public service.
The Department of Education has also proposed regulatory changes to make the process smoother in the future. Among those proposals is allowing more payments to qualify for PSLF including partial, lump sum and late payments, and allowing certain kinds of deferments and forbearances, such as those for Peace Corps and AmeriCorps service, National Guard duty, and military service, to count toward PSLF. The Department of Education also proposed to ensure the rules work better for non-tenured instructors whose colleges need to calculate their full-time employment.
“Dedicated public servants are the lifeblood of democracy. They do the hard work that is essential to our country’s success -- protecting us, teaching our children, keeping our streets clean and our lights on, and so much more,” said President Joe Biden.
- You must apply before October 31, 2022. Click here to find out if you’re eligible.
White House answers common questions
What counts as a government employer for the PSLF Program?
Any U.S. federal, state, local, or tribal government agency is considered a government employer for the PSLF Program. This includes employers such as the U.S. military, public elementary and secondary schools, public colleges and universities, public child and family service agencies, and special governmental districts (including entities such as public transportation, water, bridge district, or housing authorities).
What types of public service jobs will qualify me for loan forgiveness under the PSLF Program?
The specific job that you perform doesn’t matter, as long as you’re employed by a qualifying employer. For example, if you’re a full-time employee of a public school system, your employment would meet the requirements for PSLF, regardless of your position (teacher, administrator, support staff, etc.).
Can I receive PSLF if I have more than one employer over the course of 10 years?
Yes. However, you must submit a PSLF Form showing that you were employed full-time by a qualifying employer at the time you made each of the required 120 payments.
Does full-time volunteer service for a qualifying employer count toward PSLF?
AmeriCorps or Peace Corps volunteer service does count. However, no other full-time volunteer service is eligible. You must be a full-time employee who is hired and paid by a qualifying employer.
What if I make my last qualifying payment while working for a qualifying employer, but then leave that job to work for a for-profit corporation before applying for the PSLF benefit. Am I still eligible for PSLF?
Yes, under the temporary changes you are eligible for PSLF but you must apply before October 31, 2022.
Are private education loans eligible for PSLF?
No. Private education loans aren’t eligible for PSLF and can’t be consolidated into a Direct Consolidation Loan.
Are Direct Loans that are in default eligible for PSLF?
Defaulted Direct Loans are not eligible for PSLF. However, a defaulted loan may become eligible for PSLF if you resolve the default. Learn how to resolve the default through rehabilitation or consolidation.
Are Direct PLUS Loans eligible for PSLF?
Yes. Like other Direct Loans, Direct PLUS Loans are eligible for PSLF. Direct PLUS Loans are made to graduate and professional students. Direct PLUS Loans made to parents may need to be consolidated.
Visit The Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid’s FAQ page if you have more questions.