Public Service Loan Forgiveness: Do You Qualify, And Is It Right For You?

public-service-loan-forgiveness

We know that many of you are curious about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, and it’s no wonder why. The program promises big rewards for student loan holders in the form of forgiving thousands of dollars in debt.

Yet, as with a lot of programs, the application requirements can be confusing. And then there’s always the question of if pursuing this program makes sense in your financial situation. But don’t fear—we’ve made it easy for you.

Here’s how to prepare to apply for the public service loan forgiveness program.

What Public Service Loan Forgiveness is worth

As of the writing of this blog post, the value of loan forgiveness is limited only by the amount of eligible loans that you’ve accumulated. (See below to learn about which loans are eligible.) Of course, you’ll have to make payments for 10 years as part of the deal, so your balances could be significantly lower by then.

However, forgiveness changes with limitations may be enacted soon. President Obama has proposed capping the forgiveness at $57,500. Anyone with balances exceeding this amount may have to wait 25 years for their student loan balances to be forgiven.

Yet, since these proposals haven’t gone into effect, be sure to follow our blog. Even if they do, it’s still possible that current student loan holders could be grandfathered into forgiveness under the current guidelines, which don’t have any cap on the amount.

1. Is Public Service Loan Forgiveness the right option for you?

Before you decide to go all-in with this program, be sure to consider how much in student loans you might have left to be forgiven after 10 years of repayment.

This program is most valuable if you have high loan balances relative to your salary. If your loan balances are low, however, then it’s unlikely that you’ll have much of your loans remaining to be forgiven after 10 years of payments.

If you earn a lot, then you might not qualify for reduced payments, which could also result in your having to pay off large amounts of your student loan balance in 10 years.

You can figure out where you stand by comparing different student loan repayment plans and calculating what your remaining balance will be after 120 payments. You can also check out student loan calculators to make the math easy.

2. What is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program?

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program is a federal program designed to forgive student loan debt for employees of certain public and nonprofit jobs.

The program applies to student loan debt holders in specific fields of work, with specific types of loans, and who make qualifying payments.

3. What are the requirements for eligible payments?

Right now, you’re probably saying, “Show me the money!” But it takes some work first.

To qualify, you need to meet two basic criteria: first, you need to be enrolled in a qualifying repayment plan, and second, you must have made 120 monthly payments.

The payment plans that qualify are:

  • Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)
  • Pay As You Earn (PAYE)
  • Income-Based Repayment (IBR)
  • Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)
  • Standard repayment
  • Any other payment plan with monthly payments that equal or exceed standard repayment monthly payments

No matter which plan you’re on, you’ll have to have made 120 monthly payments on time and in full to qualify. Additionally, only payments made after October 1, 2007 count as qualifying payments.

For many debt holders, REPAYE, PAYE, IRB, and ICR likely make the most sense for maximizing the amount forgiven at the end of the 120-month period. These plans are most feasible because they typically lower monthly payments, meaning you’ll have a larger balance remaining at the end of the period.

Additionally, the Standard repayment plan is designed to pay off your student loans in 10 years. So if you stay on this plan, there simply won’t be anything left to forgive after 10 years of payments.

With this in mind, the Department of Ed. notes that you must make the majority of your 120 payments under an income-driven plan in order to be eligible for PSLF. With this in mind, they say: “if you are seeking PSLF and are not already repaying under an income-driven repayment plan, you should change to an income-driven repayment plan as soon as possible.”

4. Which types of employment qualify for public service loan forgiveness?

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program is available only to employees of:

  • Federal, state, local, or tribal government organizations
  • A 501(c)3 nonprofit
  • A not-for-profit that’s not 501(c)3 designated but meets other requirements related to public service
  • AmeriCorps, in a full-time capacity, or the Peace Corps

What your specific job is typically doesn’t matter as long as the organization or agency falls into one of the above categories. However, if you perform work of a religious nature as part of your job at a qualifying organization, then that doesn’t count toward the total hours.

You also don’t need to work for the same employer during the entire 120-month period. However, you must work an average of at least 30 hours per week each year, or at least the number of hours that your employer considers to be full-time work.

5. Which loans are eligible?

Loan eligibility is another area in which you have to be careful. Not all federal student loans qualify, so be sure that yours meet the requirements.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness eligible loans:

  • Federal Direct Subsidized Stafford/Direct Loans
  • Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford/Direct Loans
  • Federal Direct PLUS Loans
  • Federal Direct Consolidations Loans

Note that all of the above loans originate from the Direct Loan Program.

All Federal Perkins Loans and Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) are not eligible for forgiveness.

Yet, there is one exception to loan ineligibility: if they’ve been consolidated into a Direct Consolidation Loan. If so, then they will become eligible. However, only payments made toward the new Direct Consolidation Loan will count toward your 120 payments. So, beware: this kind of “reconsolidation” can reset the count if you’ve made qualifying payments in the past.

Keep in mind that Perkins Loans can be eligible for other loan forgiveness programs, including Perkins Loan Cancellation.

What to do right now

Since this program didn’t begin until 2007, no one has actually had loans forgiven under this program and there isn’t a Public Service Loan Forgiveness application yet. However, there are a few things that you can do now.

First, complete the Employment Certification for Public Service Loan Forgiveness form each year. This form verifies that you have completed employment required for the program each year. Completing it requires you to fill in some parts and your employer to fill out the rest. While this isn’t a requirement, it is helpful for your servicer to track your eligibility.

In the case that you or your employer is unsure about any aspect of the program, then consult this handy guide compiled by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for answers to your questions.

Once it’s time to submit your application, keep in mind that at that time you’ll need to be working at one of the qualifying organizations above.

Make sure to keep copies of your form each year just in case. You should also keep copies of pay stubs and W-2 tax forms in the case that you need them for verification later.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness calculator

Curious about how much debt you could have forgiven with PSLF? We developed a Public Service Loan Forgiveness calculator to help you estimate how much you could save through the program. Plug in your info below to find out.

Keep in mind, this calculator serves as an estimate only and doesn’t guarantee your eligibility or amount of debt to be forgiven. To learn more about how it works, check out our Public Service Loan Forgiveness calculator page.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Calculator

First month

Final payment

Balance paid

Forgiveness

Term

Standard
IBR
ICR
PAYE
REPAYE
First month$274$149$168$99$99
Final payment$274$233$177$155$155
Balance paid$32,856$22,613$20,665$15,075$15,075
Forgiveness+ $14,459+ $16,468+ $24,150+ $23,862
Term120mo120mo120mo120mo120mo

Depending on the payment plan selected, your forgiveness with PSLF would be up to $24,150.

First month

Final Payment

Balance Paid

Forgiveness

STANDARD

$274

STANDARD

IBR

$149

IBR

ICR

$168

ICR

PAYE

$99

PAYE

REPAYE

$99

REPAYE

$0
$68
$137
$205
$274

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Published in Federal Student Loan Repayment, Federal Student Loans, Public Service Loan Forgiveness, Student Loan Repayment

  • Megan Powell

    Jeffrey,

    If one was to refinance using one of your ‘Top 6 Lenders’, would that loan be eligible for PSLF (assuming all the requirements for PSLF are met)? Or would transferring them to a separate lender void that opportunity?

    Thank you!

    Megan P.

    • Hi Megan,

      Thanks for your question. Unfortunately, if you refinance your student loans with these lenders (or any other lender for that matter), you’d lose eligibility for PSLF. The reason is that only federal student loans qualify for PSLF, and refinance converts federal student loans to private loans.

      I hope this helps. Let us know if you have more questions.

      Best,

      Jeffrey
      Student Loan Hero

  • Hi Mary,

    If you work for the government, you could be eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. However, it’s a bit tricky. You can read more here: https://studentloanhero.com/blog/parent-plus-loan-forgiveness-is-possible-heres-how-to-get-it/

    You can also try refinancing as well. Here’s more info: https://studentloanhero.com/featured/top-banks-consolidate-refinance-parent-plus-loans/

    I hope this helps. Let us know if you have other questions.

    Best,

    Jeffrey
    Student Loan Hero

  • Hi Jay,

    Yes, those positions count for PSLF assuming they meet all the conditions outlined here.

    I do not believe you have to work for the same employer, but I do believe you need to be working for a qualifying employer for those payments to count.

    Does this answer your question? Let me know.

    Best,

    Jeffrey
    Student Loan Hero

  • Joe

    Would the pslf be taxable income at the end of the 10 years? I’m getting mixed answers stating that it won’t and that it will be. I work for the federal government and my wife works for a non-profit organization.

  • Hi Nick,

    It should be the same, yes. However, this plan will pay off your student loans in 10 years, leaving nothing to forgive.

    That’s why virtually all borrowers seeking PSLF enroll in income-driven repayment. However, the major catch is that consolidating to switch to one of these plans will “restart the clock” on your payments, meaning you’ll start at 0 of 120 eligible payments.

    I hope this helps. Let me know if you have other questions.

    Best,

    Jeffrey

  • Hi Christopher,

    Do you work full time for the government or a nonprofit? Those are the basic requirements to qualify.

    Other than that, check out the other basic requirements in the post.

    If you still think you’re eligible, submitting this form to your servicer will verify that you are, in fact, eligible: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/sites/default/files/public-service-employment-certification-form.pdf

    Hope this helps. If you have other questions, let me know.

    Best,

    Jeffrey

  • Hi Mark,

    Yes, you’re right. Many people seeking forgiveness with PSLF aim to keep payments as low as possible to maximize forgiveness.

    Can you explain what you mean by “each will want 10 to 20 percent of my income?” If you’re referring to an income-driven repayment option keep in mind this only applies to federal student loans. Also, PSLF in generally only applies to federal student loans as well.

    Hope this helps. If you have other questions, let me know.

    Best,

    Jeffrey

  • Hi Amber,

    Yes, you’re right. When you consolidate and start paying on a income-driven plan, the clock restarts on your repayment. So yes, you’ll have to pay for longer and likely won’t have as much balance to be forgiven.

    With a balance of just $10,000, it’s likely going to be hard to achieve forgiveness unless your income is very low. You can test it out here if you’re curious: https://studentloans.gov/myDirectLoan/mobile/repayment/repaymentEstimator.action

    Hope this helps. Let us know if you have other questions.

    Best,

    Jeffrey

  • CB

    Hi Jeffrey,
    Thanks for your great information. It’s been the most helpful and accurate I’ve found yet. I have a couple questions I hope you can help with. But here’s my background – I have already consolidated my loans and have been paying them back with IBR. I’ve already started repaying the 120 payments for my PSLF. I have a LOT of debt (>$400K) and one of my main concerns is whether the PSLF will actually exist when I’m done with my 120 payments (2021). I know you won’t have the answer to that, unfortunately.

    My question is about switching from one repayment plan to another – IBR to REPAYE (in my case because I have one loan before Oct 2007, even though they’re consolidated). My repayment would go from 15% to 10% of my income, which means a huge difference for me. You didn’t mention REPAYE above – does that qualify under the PSLF and will the amount forgiven still remain untaxed?

    The interest gets capitalized if I do that, however, correct? I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts.

    Thanks!

    CB

    • Hi CB,

      Glad we can help!

      On the DoE website, it says: “Qualifying repayment plans include all of the income-driven repayment plans…” and then links to information that includes REPAYE

      https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service#qualifying-repayment-plan

      Additionally, if you check out the revised version of the Employment Certification for Public Service Loan Forgiveness form, it says “Qualifying repayment plans include the Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) plan…”

      https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/sites/default/files/public-service-employment-certification-form.pdf

      So you should be safe there! I’ve just updated the post as it was written before REPAYE came out.

      And yes, I believe the interest will capitalize by switching plans as this is the standard rule.

      And to address your point on if PSLF will actually exist, all indications and proposals so far seem to be that anyone who’s currently repaying student loans will be grandfathered into the old PSLF rules (assuming there are changes). Fingers crossed it stays that way!

      Hope this helps. Best of luck!

      Jeffrey

  • Hi Mary,

    Unfortunately, I do not believe that you qualify. My understanding is that you must be an employee. However, if you’d like to check, you can submit the Employment Certification for Public Service Loan Forgiveness form — https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/sites/default/files/public-service-employment-certification-form.pdf

    Hope this helps.

    Best,

    Jeffrey

  • Hi Cheryl,

    I believe Stanford is a nonprofit. Is that correct? If so, you should be eligible. In any case, I’d advise filling out the PSLF certification form and sending it to your servicer to verify.

    Hope this helps! Let me know if you have other questions.

    Best,

    Jeffrey

  • Hi Dan,

    Are these federal student loans? If so, I don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t be eligible if all that happened was that your servicer changed.

    If they’re private student loans, they’re never eligible for PSLF.

    In any case, you should be able to submit the PSLF certification form to verify.

    I hope this answers your question. If not, let me know.

    Cheers,

    Jeffrey

  • Hi Heather,

    There should be absolutely no reason to pay someone to sign up for this. This is a federal program that anyone who’s eligible can take advantage of for free.

    Since the program did not begin til 2007, no one has actually gotten forgiveness through this program yet. However, right now the best thing to do is submit the certification form here to track your employment history and check eligibility: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/sites/default/files/public-service-employment-certification-form.pdf

    I hope this helps. If you have other questions, let us know.

    Best,

    Jeffrey

  • Hi Chris,

    From the sounds of it, it seems like your loans should be eligible. To verify this, I recommend filing this form to ensure you’re on the right track: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/sites/default/files/public-service-employment-certification-form.pdf

    Best,

    Jeffrey

  • Hi Mackenzie,

    It is a bit complex, and it’s something I don’t completely understand either. The most complete information is likely here: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service

    If you still can’t find the answer, I’d simply fill out and submit the PSLF certification form. This is really the only way to get a definitive answer, and if you do qualify, you’re going to want to fill it out anyway.

    Here it is: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/sites/default/files/public-service-employment-certification-form.pdf

    Hope this helps. If there’s anything else I can do, let me know.

    Best,

    Jeffrey

  • Hi Tasha,

    Assuming he meets all the other qualifications outlined in this article, he should be eligible. Just be sure to read over the requirements as each as they all have different requirements.

    Hope this helps. If you have other questions, let us know!

    Best,

    Jeffrey

  • Jobus Hystericus

    Any updates on the PSLF cap? I’m still in school, but will be finished by 2017. My debt will be between 400k-500k. Any hope for me?

    • Hi Jobus,

      To my knowledge, no cap has been announced yet. In any case, it’s anticipated that anyone who has already taken out student loans will be grandfathered into the current rules, for which there is no cap. It’s expected that new rules will only apply to new borrowers.

      Cheers,

      Jeffrey

  • Hi Mj,

    For PSLF, no, a borrower does not lose any payments already made when there’s a gap. PSLF simply requires 120 qualifying payments.

    Working as an employee for a Federal, state, local, or tribal government organizations or a 501(c)3 nonprofit at any position should count towards PSLF. In any case, we recommend borrowers complete the Employment Certification for Public Service Loan Forgiveness form each year to verify.

    If you have other questions, let us know!

    Best,

    Jeffrey

  • Michele W

    If I were to consolidate my loans with my husbands (who works in the private sector) as a Direct federal loan, would I still be eligible for PSLF after all criteria had been met?

  • Amelia Bahr

    Hi Jeffrey,

    A large portion of the loans I have taken out are from graduate school and are listed as “Direct Grad PLUS”. Do these also qualify for PSLF? My assumption is yes, but wanted to double check with you. Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Amelia,

      Yes, those loans should qualify for PSLF.

      If there’s anything else I can help with, let me know!

      Best,

      Jeffrey

  • Hi Christopher,

    Payments made under the graduated repayment plan typically do not count, unfortunately. Qualifying plans are the following:

    Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)
    Pay As You Earn (PAYE)
    Income-Based Repayment (IBR)
    Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)
    Standard repayment
    Any other payment plan with monthly payments that equal or exceed standard repayment monthly payments

    Hope this helps. If there’s anything else I can do, let me know.

    Best,

    Jeffrey

  • Hi Diana,

    That’s a great question! We do not have anything specifically on that topic, but thanks to your suggestion, we’re working on putting a guide together on this. So please stay tuned!

    If there’s anything else I can do to help, let me know.

    Cheers,

    Jeffrey

  • Hi Rebecca,

    Thanks for your question. To be honest, I’m not certain if it matters if you wait until a year and do it now. I don’t think it can hurt in either case.

    And yes, that’s correct. The PSLF program is administered by FedLoan Servicer/PHEAA, so all borrowers are moved over there for servicing.

    Hope this helps. If there’s anything else I can do, let me know.

    Best,

    Jeffrey

  • Hi Sycil,

    FedLoan Servicing handles the federal loan servicing for all borrowers working towards PSLF. So if you have a different federal student loan servicer now (Navient, Great Lakes, Nelnet), your federal loans will be transferred to FedLoan servicing and you will make payments to them.

    Hope this explains things. If there’s more I can do, let me know.

    Best,

    Jeffrey

  • Hi RT,

    In this case it might make sense to file the Employment Certification for Public Service Loan Forgiveness form if you have not done so already. This will transfer you to FedLoan Servicing. They should be able to help you from there. Here’s the link: http://studentaid.ed.gov/sites/default/files/public-service-employment-certification-form.pdf

    In terms of the payments, have you verified they’ve met all requirements for counting as a qualifying payment? That’s all I can think of in terms of what could be wrong (other than your servicer somehow mixing this up).

    If there’s anything else I can do, let me know!

    Best,

    Jeffrey

  • Hi Kim,

    Thanks for your question. Your payments may qualify towards receiving PSLF. However, only payments made after October 1, 2007 count per the rules of the program.

    Qualifying loans must also be from the Direct Loan program, so that’s another important thing to check.

    Hope this helps! If you have other questions, let us know.

    Best,

    Jeffrey

  • Charlene Michele

    If I am making payments to both Aspire and Navient, do I need to have my employer submit the annual Employment Certification form to both?

    Also, to clarify something else, I have:
    FEDERAL STAFFORD LOAN
    FEDERAL UNSUB STAFFORD LOAN
    Stafford Sub
    Stafford Unsub
    Direct Loan Sub
    Direct Loan Unsub

    Are these within the eligible loans, as listed above?

    Thank you, Jeffrey.

    Charlene

    • Hi Charlene,

      To my knowledge, you only have to submit the form to one servicer. Once you submit this form, your loans will be transferred to FedLoan Servicing, which handles all servicing for PSLF candidates.

      To my knowledge, those loan types should all qualify. However, it’s best to receive confirmation when submitting the certification form.

      Best,

      Jeffrey

  • Lindsay

    This is in regards to Charlene’s question. I read that you are making payments to Aspire and Navient as I am as well. Are these also eligible loans for discharge after 10 years of payment? I was under the impression that only applied to federal loans.

    • Hi Lindsay,

      I was under the impression that Aspire services both federal and private student loans, although I may be incorrect. In any case, only federal student loans are eligible for PSLF.

      Best,

      Jeffrey

  • Lindsay

    To clarify, does the annual Employment Cert form need to be submitted annually or only when the 120 payments has been completed?

    • Hi Lindsay,

      I believe the recommendation is to submit the form annually. However, I do not believe this is a requirement.

      There will be an application form for once the 120 payments are completed. However, the Dept. of Ed. has not released this form yet as no one will be eligible for forgiveness until 2017.

      Best,

      Jeffrey

  • Heather Fertig

    I have both subsidized and un-subsidized direct loans that have been sold multiple times and that I consolidated a year ago, Due to the loans being sold I have been shuffled from service to service and I am now making payments through Navient. I am assuming my loan is eligible for this program, though I have not been able to avoid late payments, the last one being just last month – in which case I am starting over for the 10 years now?

    • Hi Heather,

      No, you shouldn’t need to start over. Payments that apply to PSLF do not need to be consecutive. The payments “Must be made with 15 days of due date” but late payments shouldn’t disqualify all your other payments.

      Hope this helps. If you have other questions, let us know!

      Best,

      Jeffrey

  • Bob

    My servicer is saying I have a Federal Stafford Consolidated loan, and that I don’t qualify. Does this sound correct. She is also saying that only balances over $10,000 are eligible? Thanks for the info.

  • Hi Eric,

    Yes, teachers are eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness assuming they meet all other eligibility criteria. You can read more about multiple forgiveness options for teachers here: https://studentloanhero.com/featured/student-loan-forgiveness-for-teachers/

    If you have any other questions, let me know.

    Best,

    Jeffrey

  • Hi Amanda,

    Unfortunately, payments made under the graduated repayment plan typically do not count, unfortunately. Qualifying plans are the following:

    Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)
    Pay As You Earn (PAYE)
    Income-Based Repayment (IBR)
    Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)
    Standard repayment
    Any other payment plan with monthly payments that equal or exceed standard repayment monthly payments

    Sorry to break the bad news. It may be possible to switch plans, but I’m not sure that will help at this point.

    If there’s anything else I can do, let me know.

    Best,

    Jeffrey

  • Hi Vanessa,

    I do not believe payments on Extended Standard Repayment will qualify. According to the certification form, qualifying plans are the following:

    Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)
    Pay As You Earn (PAYE)
    Income-Based Repayment (IBR)
    Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)
    Standard repayment
    Any other payment plan with monthly payments that equal or exceed standard repayment monthly payments

    If there’s anything else I can do, let me know.

    Best,

    Jeffrey

  • Hi Ryan,

    Unfortunately, I’m not aware of anything that can help here. You may want to check with the Dept. of Education, but I’m not sure they’ll be able to help you.

    Sorry I can’t be of more assistance. If there’s anything else I can do, let me know.

    Best,

    Jeffrey

  • Hi,

    Are you considered an employee of the government? If so, you likely qualify for PSLF. If you’re not a government employee, you probably do not.

    Hope this helps! If you have other questions, let me know.

    Best,

    Jeffrey

  • Hi,

    Are you considered an employee of the government? If so, you likely qualify for PSLF. If you’re not a government employee (i.e., you work for a private company that’s contracted by the government), you probably do not qualify.

    Hope this helps! If you have other questions, let me know.

    Best,

    Jeffrey

  • Hi Sandra,

    Thanks for your question. Based on how you’ve described the situation, I do not think that your husband’s experience counts towards PSLF.

    Keep in mind, it’s not the years of service but rather the number of payments made while completing the public service that matters. So even if someone has been working for 15+ years in public service, they have to have made 120 qualifying payments before they’re eligible. Eligible payments did not count until October 2007, so the first borrowers become eligible in 2017.

    In any case, I believe since the loan is in your name and not his that your loans might not be eligible. However, if you feel like you might be eligible, you can fill out and submit the Employment Certification for Public Service Loan Forgiveness form to verify whether or not you qualify.

    I hope this explanation helped. If you have other questions, let me know.

    Best,

    Jeffrey

  • Hi Christina,

    Thanks for your question. First off, do you by chance mean Fed Loan Servicing rather than “Direct Loans.” Direct Loan is simply a program, but Fed Loan Servicing is a student loan servicer. Just an FYI — Fed Loan Servicing handles all borrowers who file the forms for PSLF.

    In any case, payments get a bit tricky with PSLF.

    It is true that the payment count restarts when you consolidate your loans.

    Additionally, payments made while not working at a job that qualifies for PSLF do not count towards the total either.

    I’m not entirely clear on if or why your student loans need to be reconsolidated. It’s possible some loans are in the FFEL program, which are not eligible for PSLF until consolidated into a Direct Loan. Do you know if this is the case?

    I hope this helped a bit. If you have other questions, let me know.

    Best,

    Jeffrey

  • Matthew Brockmeier

    I’m in a similar situation. Hoping to jump-start this conversation.

  • Ashley

    I just started working part time for a 501(c)3. I’m hoping to move to full time next month. Do I need to make 120 payments WHILE working full time? Or do I just need to have made 120 payments AND work full time? Thanks for your help!

    • Ananda van den Bos

      Yes, you need to make the 120 payments while working full time.

  • Frances

    Do you know if you can make payments and accumulate loans in a professional degree seeking program, will the payments made while still accumulating loans count towards payoff?

  • Sam

    Is there a maximum amount a physician can make and still qualify for PSLF?

    • Hi Sam,

      Currently, there is technically no maximum amount set. However, you’d still have to qualify for a income-driven repayment option and thus a monthly payment amount lower than the 10-year standard repayment amount to take advantage of PSLF. Otherwise, all loans will be paid off in 10 years with nothing left to forgive.

      Best,

      Jeffrey

  • I spent eight years working for a non-profit and have been working for the government for a month. However, for much of my time at the non-profit, I was only a part-time employee. That’s when I made the bulk of my 120 qualifying payments. Would those payments count?

    • Hi Rachel,

      Unfortunately, the payments made during part-time employment likely don’t count. The program states that you must be employed at what your organization considers full-time or at least 30 hours per week, whichever is greater. If you don’t meet this requirement, you likely won’t qualify.

      If there’s anything else I can do, let me know.

      Best,

      Jeffrey

  • kailiyaya

    Any updates on the proposed changes? Specifically the cap on forgiven amount and married filing separately? The link states that the proposal was that those who are married, yet filing separately will need to report their combined income for calculation.

    • Hi,

      There still haven’t been any changes to PSLF at this point. As stated before, it’s likely (yet not guaranteed) that anyone who currently has loans would be grandfathered in to the current PSLF rules.

      If any changes happen, we’ll certainly post about them!

      Cheers,

      Jeffrey

  • Letrivette Shaun Bailey

    I have worked for the Federal Government (National Labor Relations Board) for 13 years and majority of my loans were accumulated from 2009 to 2011. How many payments do I need to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness? Thanks

    • Hi Letrivette,

      Thanks for your question. Everyone seeking PSLF needs to make 120 qualifying payments, which will take a minimum of 10 years to make. Only payments made after October 1, 2007 count.

      If you’re on track for PSLF, it’s recommend you fill out the Employment Certification for Public Service Loan Forgiveness form to verify and track your progress. You can find it here: http://studentaid.ed.gov/sites/default/files/public-service-employment-certification-form.pdf

      If you have other questions, let me know.

      Best,

      Jeffrey

  • Ananda van den Bos

    The payments have to be made after 10/1/2007, and your non profit employer(s) need to certify that you were working full time for them during the time that the payments were made. FEDLOANS also recommends keeping pay stubs, just in case. https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service

  • Diane Moran

    Hi,
    Just trying to get a straight answer on who is considered my employer? I was hired through a temp agency. I’ve been at the same facility for 4 years now. I have been told that while I was hired through the agency I would qualify for the PSLF program through Fedloan Servicing. I However, I get conflicting answers between the agency and where I actually work. I am currently in an IBR program through PSLF for 2 years now, but I’m not sure if that means my employer qualifies, since my employer is the temp agency. I work in a public service facility and my paycheck reads “Entity” and the state I live in. I understand that I qualify because while I’m hired through the agency the State facility where I work pays the agency. I was told when I applied for PSLF that all agency’s like to think they are solely your employer, but that’s not the case.
    I’m so confused…lol

    • Hi Diane,

      Thanks for your question. Have you filed the Employment Certification for Public Service Loan Forgiveness form yet? When you do this, they’ll typically let you know if you have eligible employment or not. You can find it here: http://studentaid.ed.gov/sites/default/files/public-service-employment-certification-form.pdf

      However, I have heard reports that they sometimes make incorrect determinations when reviewing this form. That said, I’m not really sure how it’s decided if your job qualifies or not. Still, this is likely the best place to start.

      If there’s anything else I can do to help, let me know!

      Best,

      Jeffrey

  • Dana S

    I have been working at my government job for one year now. I am interested in applying for this but don’t know how it will benefit me now. I need lower monthly payments, but I’m not sure how I can know that until after applying. It wouldn’t be worth it for me if nothing changes. Help!

    • Hi Dana,

      Thanks for your questions. PSLF won’t benefit you until you’ve made 120 qualifying payments. Once you’ve done that, and assuming you meet all other criteria, the remainder of eligible federal loans are forgiven.

      This program does not include private student loans.

      If you’re hoping to take advantage of PSLF and think that you will be able to satisfy the requirements, you basically must enroll in an income-driven repayment plan. These plans typically lower your monthly student loan payments on federal loans. You can learn more about them here: studentloanhero.com/featured/complete-guide-income-driven-repayment-plans-federal-student-loans/

      So to get started, I’d make sure you’re on track to meet all the requirements of PSLF (see above) and enroll in an income-driven plan if you do.

      If there’s anything else I can do, let me know!

      Best,

      Jeffrey

  • Michelle

    I keep getting emails and mailings on this but I’m pretty sure I don’t qualify but I guess it doesn’t hurt to ask. I work at a Christian school that is state accredited as a secretary. I’m guessing only public school staff or teachers only would qualify.

    • Hi Michelle,

      Actually, it sounds like you may have any eligible job. Is your school a 501(c)(3) nonprofit?

      There are restrictions related to religion, but they really only involve instruction of some sort. The description says: “For borrowers who are employed by not-for-profit organizations, time spent on religious instruction, worship services, or any form of proselytizing may not be counted toward meeting the full-time employment requirement.”

      So if you don’t spend much or any time on these things at your job, you may be eligible if it’s also a nonprofit.

      Hope this helps! If you have other questions, let me know.

      Best,

      Jeffrey

      • Michelle

        Yes, our school is 501(c)(3) non profit. I am filling out form and will send it in and see what they say. Thank you for the information.

  • Rodney McGee

    I work with the City of Raleigh Fire Department, my fiance is currently in the process of obtaining her masters degree and then plans on attending PA school. We are getting married before she finishes her masters and before she starts PA school. When we get married is she eligible through me? She does not work and doesn’t plan on working until after she finishes school.

    • Hi Rodney,

      Thanks for your question. Unfortunately, no. The PSLF only applies to the borrower, not a spouse. So she won’t be able to access this program unless she takes a job that qualifies for PSLF herself.

      If you have any other questions, let me know.

      Best,

      Jeffrey

  • heather

    I worked for a nonprofit organization for 6 years during some of that time I was in forbearance and now I am an income driven plan but had to go back in forbearance over the summer. How do I know if I have met the 10 year mark to qualify?

    • Hi Heather,

      Thanks for your question. So first off, it’s technically 120 qualifying payments to get PSLF, not strictly 10 years. Rather, the minimum time it takes to hit this mark is 10 years. So any periods of forbearance do not count.

      In any case, in order to check your status, it’s recommend you file a Employment Certification for Public Service Loan Forgiveness form. You can find it here: http://studentaid.ed.gov/sites/default/files/public-service-employment-certification-form.pdf

      If there’s anything else I can do to help, let me know.

      Best,

      Jeffrey

  • daisy

    Hi !
    I have parent plus loans and I am a teacher in a high need school district. Are my parent plus loans eligible for cancellation under the teacher loan forgiveness program?
    Thanks!

  • Hi Sarah,

    Thanks for your question. You may qualify, but it depends.

    First off, is this a Direct Consolidation Loan? This is typically required for it to be eligible. If it’s in a different loan program, like FFLE, it has be be consolidated into a Direct Loan first. This also, unfortunately, restarts the count on the 120 payments.

    Other than that, have you been using an eligible repayment plan? (see above)

    It sounds like your job may be eligible. Keep in mind that only payments after October 1, 2007 qualify.

    If there’s anything else I can answer for you, let me know.

    Best,

    Jeffrey

  • Hi Hazel,

    Thanks for pointing this out. I hadn’t heard of this specific problem with FedLoan. But if that is true, it could certainly cause problems as PSLF payments are required to be made within 15 days of due dates.

    You might want to contact FedLoan directly to find out if there are any options to ensure this doesn’t happen. Perhaps certain payment methods work better than others to avoid this.

    Sorry I can’t provide more info on this. If there’s anything else I can do, let me know!

    Best,

    Jeffrey

  • Justin Milam

    Hi Jeffrey-
    I’ve had a Federal Direct Subsidized Consolidation Loan through FedLoan Servicing since 2008, and have worked in local government since 2005. I have called MyFedLoan several times and they told me that this type of loan was ineligible for the PSLF, but I don’t see where this type of loan is excluded. Any help is appreciated. Thanks!

  • Allison

    Hi Jeffrey, how long does it generally take to hear back if I am eligible for the PSLF? I faxed my PSLF employment certification form on 10/4/2016. Thank you,

    • Hi Allison,

      Thanks for your question. That’s a good one, and I’m honestly not sure. I would imagine that it would take several weeks at least. From what I’ve heard, they’re receiving a lot of these forms.

      Cheers,

      Jeffrey

  • Angela

    Hi @jeffrey_trull:disqus,

    I have two types of loans (subsidized and unsubsidized) consolidated and have been on income based repayment plan since November 2012. I payed every month on time November 2012 until 2014, when I was on forbearance but have been paying every month since January of 2015. I have made 24 payments so far, and I have to make 120 payments to apply (way down the line).

    I’ve been working as a full time employee at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor for the past 4.5 years.
    Is working for U of M (or other public universities) considered public service?

    I’ve been reading up a lot about this, but there isn’t any way to know whether I’m working for a qualified employer.
    I could call someone working for the loan program, but I’ll do that if my answer cannot be answered here.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Angela,

      Thanks for your question. If it’s a public university and you’re paid by the state, it’s likely considered public service.

      The best thing to do is to fill out and submit the Employment Certification for Public Service Loan Forgiveness form. When you send this in, they’ll confirm that your employment and payments are eligible. You can find it here: http://studentaid.ed.gov/sites/default/files/public-service-employment-certification-form.pdf

      If there’s anything else I can do to help, let me know.

      Best,

      Jeffrey

  • Katelyn H.

    Hello,
    My husband will have 120 payments made by the time Oct 1, 2017 comes around. However his loan is not an income-based plan. He’s made the same monthly payment all this time, so I’m guessing it’s a standard payment plan. I read that one requirement of PSLF is that the majority of payments be income-based. Can you explain why this is? I’m not sure if he’s able to change at this point, and if so, it wouldn’t be the “majority of payments” because he’s less than a year from being qualified to apply for forgiveness…..

    • Hi Katelyn,

      Thanks for your question. The main reason the “majority of payments” statement is there is so borrowers who are eligible for PSLF actually have loans balances remaining to be forgiven. By default, any loans being repaid on the 10-year Standard Repayment plan will be paid off completely after 120 payments. There would be nothing left to forgive.

      So payments on the 10-year Standard plan do count towards the 120 for PSLF. But like it says, the majority must be on an income-driven plan.

      Additionally, if you look at the list above, other plans that aren’t either the 10-year Standard or an Income-driven plan often won’t qualify as an eligible repayment plan for PSLF.

      I hope this answers your question. If there’s anything else I can help with, let me know.

      Best,

      Jeffrey

      • TLDR:HatedIt

        Hi Jeffrey,

        I’m very curious as to this same point. I don’t think it follows that one would need to make a *majority* of payments under income-driven in order to have loans left to forgive. For example, if I make 7 years’ repayment on Standard 10-year, then switch to a qualifying income-driven plan, and let’s say my income is quite small, wouldn’t I still have a large outstanding balance 3 years later? Thanks for your help.

  • Cutea

    Hello,
    I currently repay my loans under Income Based Repayment toward PSLF.. I was wondering, does anyone know if I were to teach English abroad in a public school, would that count toward PSLF, or only jobs in the United States? Could any 503 c non-profit job abroad qualify? I haven’t been able to get an answer to this yet. Thanks!

  • Mykie

    Do you think Trump and the Republican Congress will get rid of PSLF? Will people already enrolled be grandfathered in?

  • Mr Cannon

    Do you have to work in public service for 10 years or just have your 120th payment be made while working for non-profit/public service employer?

    • Hi Mr Cannon,

      Technically, it’s both. Only payments made while working in public service count. Making 120 qualifying payments requires at least 10 years of work in public service. Early payments generally do not count towards the total.

      I hope this helps. If you have other questions, let me know.

      Best,

      Jeffrey

  • Mykie

    Do you think PSLF will continue in its current form with the new presidential administration and Congress?

    • Hi Mykie,

      Thanks for your question. That’s really hard to say at this point. I can’t say I’ve heard any policy positions related to PSLF from the incoming administration. So far, we haven’t heard any proposals to eliminate PSLF for those who are already with student loans.

      If there’s anything else I can do to help, let me know.

      Best,

      Jeffrey

  • Dawn Dee

    I was told by Nelnet that since I consolidated 10 years ago. I do not qualify for PSLF. However, two other people from the same place have told me differently. Can you let me know if consolidated loans can be re-consolidated under this program? Nelnet stated I needed to take out more student loans to have them consolidated into this pan.

    • Hi Dawn,

      Thanks for your question. To qualify for PSLF, loans have to be in the Direct Loan program. If they’re not in this program and are instead in the FFEL program, they can be consolidated into a Direct Consolidation Loan to become eligible. The catch here is that when this is done, the payment count for PSLF restarts at zero. However, for borrowers with FFEL loans, there’s generally no other option to make them eligible.

      I hope this helps. Let me know if there’s anything else I can do.

      Best,

      Jeffrey

  • Chuck

    Hi Jeffrey,

    First, I have been teaching for the past 10 years as a Special Education teacher at a low income school. My federal student loans (Subsidized Stafford & Unsubsidized Stafford) were consolidated sometime in 2005; since then I’ve always made on-time payments. Will I still be eligible for PSLF?

    Secondly, I’m in the process of submitting the PSLF employment certification form and I understand that FedLoan Servicing will now handle my loans. My question is, will I be notified about my eligibility before the transfer? American Education Services is handling my loans currently and I’m locked in a very good interest rate, so I don’t want to lose their services if I’m not eligible. Thanks!.

    • Hi Chuck,

      It sounds like you may be eligible. Are these loans in the Direct Loan program? And have you been making payments on an eligible repayment program? These are likely the biggest factors to determine your eligibility.

      In terms of your second question, I’m pretty sure that your loans get transferred to FedLoan regardless. However, there shouldn’t be any impact on your interest rates by switching student loan servicers as this doesn’t change the terms of your loan.

      Hope this helps! If there’s anything else I can do, let me know.

      Best,

      Jeffrey

  • Cre

    If I am default in my student loans and I am trying to consolidate Them and get out of collections would I have to pay a extremely high cost to enroll?

  • Paul Willis

    “However, if you perform work of a religious nature as part of your job at a qualifying organization, then that doesn’t count toward the total hours.” I am a pastor of a 501(c)3 church. Am I disqualified from PSLF based on the above statement?

    • Hi Paul,

      Thanks for your question. It’s possible you may be disqualified if most or all of your time spent working is of religious nature, regardless of the church’s 501(c)3 status. However, you may still want to send in the eligibility form to confirm.

      If there’s anything else I can do to help, let me know.

      Best,

      Jeffrey

  • Jo

    May I know why after applying for Parent Plus Loans for my son’s college ($163,000), he also have Fed student loan ($45,000) on his name after graduation? Thank you

    • Hi Jo,

      Did your son take out loans in his own name? Most loans go into the student’s name, not the parent’s. The exception to this is Parent PLUS loans.

      Does this answer your question? If not, let me know.

      Best,

      Jeffrey

  • Laura

    Hello,

    I am on track for PSLF, and have been making qualifying payments for about 5 years. I also am currently working as a teacher. I am getting ready to go back to school next semester, and was wondering if taking out additional new federal loans would restart my 120 payments? Or, would the additional loans not be included for forgiveness?

    • Hi Laura,

      Thanks for your question. While I’m not certain of the answer, I’d suspect that the payments you already made towards your current loans would not apply to the new loans. You would have the option of consolidating the new loans with the old. However, consolidation typically restarts the count on the 120 payments, so it’s likely you wouldn’t want to do this.

      In any case, it’s likely best to consult with your student loan servicer and/or the Dept. of Ed. to get an answer for your specific case.

      Hope this helps! Best of luck going back to school, and let me know if there’s anything else I can do to help.

      Cheers,

      Jeffrey

  • Heather Richard

    My original loan was given to me in 1997. I have been making payments since 2000. Am I right in figuring that I will not qualify for this loan repayment now until October 2017 since it began in Oct 2007?

  • Rachel Hoard

    If your income-based repayment plan is set at zero a month do these payments count toward the 120 payments or do I still need to pay something?

  • Mel

    Is there a salary cap to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness?

  • Lee

    Hi, there,

    I’m considering taking on some consulting/part-time work in addition to my full-time work at a non-profit. Would this hurt my public interest loan forgiveness, even if I’m still employed at the non-profit full-time? I’m sure my monthly payments would change, but didn’t know if anything else would be implicated. Thanks!

    Lee

  • Jordan

    Hello,

    I work in a Public Service Loan Forgiveness-qualifying organization. I am currently under the IBR payment plan, but I am no longer “eligible” based on my income. However, my loan servicer, while saying I no longer qualify for the financial hardship payment cap, says that I can stay on IBR but the payments will simply go up. Further, they claim that because I’m no longer eligible, I can simply stay on this payment plan without re-applying again.

    I am considering staying on IBR with the higher payment because the payment is still lower than any other payment plans. I want to know if staying with this plan will still qualify for forgiveness? I also want to know if what they say is accurate–if I no longer need to reapply since I am not eligible for the payment cap, then it follows that my payments will never increase regardless of income. I am very confused!

  • Mahiyar Osaanlu

    @jeffrey_trull:disqus
    Sorry if my Question be a little off topic , but it’s regarding the Student loan. I Consolidated My Fed. Student loans From Navient to Nelnet this past May , While I was with Navient, I did not pay any interest during 2016 year since I had a 0 dollar payment schedule through my repayment plan. Now my question is Since Nelnet paid off all my balance including the interest accrued on the loans during the months that I had 0 dollar payment schedule in 2016 , then since both Principal & interest are fully paid by Nelnet to Navient, then will Navinet issue a 1098-T to me although it was not me who paid any interest. In other words basically the new servicer just paid off the whole balance ( Interest + principal ) , but I paid no interest myself … so will I receive the 1098-T becasue the other servicer paid off everything including the interest ? Thanks

  • Rhea Young

    Hi Jeffrey. Thank you for the article. If possible, could I get your thoughts? My husband is currently working toward the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (4 years in) but I’m a bit nervous about the new administration. We’ve been “Married Filing Separate” which means a couple grand hit each year, but ultimately ends up in paying lower monthly payments since they don’t take 15% of my income as well under IBR. Do you think there’s a good chance that congress could pull the plug on this? I’m just worried because by filing separately and making IBR payments, we’ve been paying more tax and also accruing a lot of interest by making lower payments than the standard repayment. Could I have your thoughts on the future trajectory of this program for those who have been making the qualified payments for several years?

    • Hi Rhea,

      Thanks for your question. I understand your concern here, and we certainly get asked this a lot. The honest answer is that we just don’t know what will happen or how likely it is.

      That said, I haven’t yet heard of any proposals that would pull the plug altogether for current borrowers. Any proposal I’ve heard on limiting PSLF would at least grandfather in current borrowers. But again, I really can’t say for sure what will happen from here.

      Sorry I don’t have a better answer! If there’s any other way I can help, let me know.

      Best,

      Jeffrey

  • Hi Chris,

    Any university (and any organization, for that matter) that is a 401c(3) nonprofit should generally satisfy that aspect of the PSLF eligibility requirements. The borrower much meet all the other requirements listed, of course.

    I hope that clears things up! If you have other questions, let me know.

    Best,

    Jeffrey