More than 145,000 U.S. borrowers have canceled the remainder of their student loans through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, and officials say many more may be eligible.
Launched in 2007 to bring more graduates into the public service, the program cancels student loans after 10 years of public interest work or 120 payments. Teachers, librarians, nurses, public interest lawyers, military members and other government workers can all apply.
The U.S. Department of Education has relaxed complex rules for applying for the program, but only until October 31st. Here’s what you need to know if you want to apply:
You are eligible if you are employed or have been employed at least 30 hours per week with the following types of companies:
– Government agencies at any level (US federal, state, local or tribal). This includes all work in the U.S. military, public education, and full-time volunteer work with AmeriCorps and Peace Corps.
– Any non-profit organization which is tax-free under section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
– If you work for a non-profit organization that is not tax-free, you can still qualify for PSLF if the organization provides certain types of qualified public services such as emergency management, legal aid and legal services, early childhood education, disability or the elderly Personal services, public health, nurses and nurse practitioners, public library and school library services and public safety such as crime prevention and law enforcement.
To show that your job in the public service qualifies you for waiver, you will file an employer’s certificate form with your service provider, listing the jobs you hold.
You must have a direct loan or combine other federal student loans into a direct loan. You must make 120 eligible payments or 10 years payments.
You can apply before you pay 120, and the Department of Education encourages anyone eligible to apply for the program before the end of October 31, regardless of how much has been paid.
Which student is eligible for the loan?
William D. Any federal student loan obtained under the Ford Federal Direct Loan Program is eligible.
If you have either a Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) or a Federal Perkins Loan, you will need to combine them directly with your service provider.
Private student loans are not eligible.
How do I apply?
You must submit an application by October 31st. You can still apply, but the waived rules will only apply until then.
How can I consolidate my debt into direct debt?
To find out if you have a loan under the Federal Family Education Loan or the Parkinson Loan Program, first visit studentaid.gov. This loan will consolidate you.
Next, apply online through FedLoan servicing or by mail or fax. The process is free and takes about six weeks to complete, but you can submit a public service loan waiver form before or after the merger is complete.
What counts as an eligible payment?
A qualified monthly payment is a payment you made after October 1, 2007, when you were hired by a qualified employer.
The break in payments of any month during an epidemic is calculated towards the total payments.
12 consecutive months or more, or 36 consecutive months or more, are counted under the waiver.
Delayed months before 2013 are counted under the waiver.
In addition, the Department of Education will include reversing economic hardship on or after January 1, 2013.
120 eligible monthly payments do not have to be consecutive. For example, if you have a tenure with an unqualified employer, you will not lose credit for previous qualifications.
How do I apply for a limited waiver program?
There is no separate application process for the waiver program. Exceptions to the waiver will remain active for applicants going through the process until the end of October.
How many people are currently in the program?
As of May this year, 715,675 people have filled out the processed forms for this program. According to the Department of Education, 61.9% of borrowers work in government, while the rest work non-profit. The average amount of debt forgiven through the program is $ 64,968.
Who can I contact if I have questions?
If you have specific questions about your application, it is best to call or email a representative.
For general questions about student loans, the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) hosts a contact center that allows borrowers to live chat, call or email.
For specific questions about the program, applicants can contact FedLoan Servicing at 1-855-265-4038.
The Student Borrower Protection Center has compiled a list of resources available in each state across the country.
Where can I get more information?
Government agencies and non-government organizations are currently hosting a number of events online and in person to help applicants successfully go through the program.
The Public Service Loan Freeness Coalition hosts a webinar in the first week of each month on frequently asked questions about the program. Applicants may also access past webinars on the Alliance’s website.
The AccessLex Institute hosts the “How to Benefit from Public Service Loan Forgiveness Limited Weaver Opportunity” webinar several times each month. 30-minute sessions go through the applicants process and solve frequent questions. This event is free.
The National Education Association has a few PSLF webinars on YouTube that address how to apply to the program and address common questions.