How to Complete the PSLF Form So You Qualify for Forgiveness

 October 27, 2020
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public service loan forgiveness form

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Note that the situation for student loans has changed due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak and relief efforts from the government, student loan lenders and others. This includes a halt to federally held student loan repayments, with the deferred payments still counting toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Check out our Student Loan Hero Coronavirus Information Center for additional news and details.

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When you’re working toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), it’s helpful to submit the Employment Certification form every year to verify your employment (or at least every time you change employers). After 10 years and 120 qualifying student loan payments, you’ll be ready to submit the PSLF student loan forgiveness form.

Let’s look at the following three topics to see how you can complete the Public Service Loan Forgiveness form to get your loans forgiven and tips to help you qualify.

What the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program offers

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program launched in 2007. Its promise: If you pay your loans each month while working at a government or nonprofit agency, the remainder will be forgiven after 10 years.

Unfortunately, the execution has been far from smooth. In 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) reported that many loan servicers had been mishandling PSLF for their borrowers. Others have been critical of the cost of PSLF, and the Trump administration has repeatedly proposed discontinuing the program in its annual budget proposals.

Regardless of future changes to the program, people already pursuing PSLF should remain eligible — and September 2017 was the first time any borrowers were eligible to apply for PSLF.

How to complete the PSLF student loan forgiveness form

If you’re one of those borrowers who has worked in public service for 10 years, then it’s time to apply for PSLF.

The first step is completing this student loan forgiveness form. You’ll need to fill out the Public Service Loan Forgiveness application for each employer you’ve had while making your 120 qualifying payments.

Image from Department of Education

Unless you indicate otherwise, the Department of Education will put your loan in forbearance while it processes your application. During this period, you won’t have to make payments — however, your loan will accrue interest, which you’ll have to pay if your application is denied.

After you complete the PSLF form, you can submit it via mail, or upload it directly to FedLoan’s site if FedLoan is your servicer. Addresses and instructions are on Page 4 of the application, where you’ll also find numbers to call for further assistance.

Once the Department of Education has received all your documentation, it will notify you. According to its PSLF FAQ page, processing times can vary based on factors such as:

  • Whether you submitted Employment Certification forms over the years (if you did, your application “will likely be processed more quickly”)
  • The number of employers you had
  • Gaps in your employment or payment history

If your application is approved, the Department of Education will forgive all outstanding interest and principal on your eligible direct loans. If you made more than 120 qualifying payments, the extra amount will be refunded to you. Plus, you won’t have to pay taxes on the amount that’s forgiven, unlike other forgiveness programs.

If, however, your application is denied, the Department of Education will notify you with the reason. At that point, you’ll have to start paying your loans again, and you’ll be responsible for any interest that accrued during forbearance. In addition, as the Department of Education warned, that interest “may be capitalized” — that means the interest could be added to your principal, forcing you to make payments on a higher amount than you started with.

If you believe the Department of Education is mistaken in its denial, you can submit additional information that supports your case, and FedLoan Servicing will reevaluate its decision.

What you need to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness

It’s important that you don’t apply for PSLF until you’re sure you qualify.

Putting your loans into forbearance could be an expensive mistake if your Public Service Loan Forgiveness application is denied. During the processing period, you’d also miss out on many months of making qualifying loan payments.

So before you fill out the PSLF form, go through each of the requirements below to see whether you’re eligible:

1. You have direct loans
2. You’re on an income-driven repayment plan
3. You work full time at a qualifying employer
4. You’ve made 120 qualifying payments

1. You have direct loans

Although there are many types of federal student loans, only direct loans are eligible for PSLF. To check which types of loans you have, sign into your Federal Student Aid account.

If you have several types of federal loans, you can consolidate them into a direct consolidation loan so they’ll qualify — but your prior loan payments won’t count. In other words, the clock on your 120 payments will start over. So, think carefully before you consolidate.

Are your loans direct loans? If yes, keep going. If no, learn more about direct loan consolidation.

2. You’re on an income-driven repayment plan

IMPORTANT UPDATE (Oct. 12, 2021):
As of October 2021, the government is allowing all federal loan repayments to count for PSLF, regardless of the payment plan, for those who apply (or have applied) to the program before Oct. 31, 2022.

This will be retroactive to include previously non-eligible payments. However, there is some fine print, so you’ll need to check with your servicer to be sure. Here are all the main details for these new, more lenient standards.

Below is the original text from this post, describing the previous standards in place prior to October 2021:

When you graduate from school, you’re automatically put on a standard 10-year repayment plan. But that wouldn’t work for PSLF; at the end of 10 years, there’d be nothing left to forgive.

Instead, you must be enrolled in an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan that sets your payments to a percentage of your income. If your payments drop as low as $0, that’s fine — but you must be on one of these plans.

Are you enrolled in an IDR plan? If yes, keep going. If no, learn more about income-driven repayment plans.

3. You work full time at a qualifying employer

Your job is what qualifies you for PSLF. You must work your employer’s definition of “full time,” or at least 30 hours per week, for a nonprofit or government agency.

To track your employers, you should send an Employment Certification form each time you switch jobs. As proof of your employment, the Department of Education has suggested retaining W2s and pay stubs.

It’s important to note you must be working for a qualifying employer at the time of your application and at the time of forgiveness, according to the Department of Education. So, don’t join the private sector until your loans have been forgiven.

Did you work full time at a qualifying employer at the time of your 120 payments, and are you still working at one now? If yes, keep going. If no, learn more about qualifying public service careers.

4. You’ve made 120 qualifying payments

Lastly, you must have made 120 qualifying monthly payments. These payments must have been made after Oct. 1, 2007, in full within 15 days of the due date and while you were on an IDR plan and working for an eligible employer.

The payments don’t have to be consecutive, though. If, for example, you were employed in the private sector between two nonprofit jobs, you can count the payments you made on either end.

If you’re not sure how many qualifying payments you’ve made, you can log on to the FedLoan Servicing site to check. If your loans haven’t been moved over yet, you can submit the Employment Certification form — after which the Department of Education will send a letter revealing how many payments you have left.

Did you make 120 qualifying payments? And did you answer “yes” to all the questions above? Then you’re ready to apply for PSLF!

Take your time when you complete the PSLF form, keep copies of everything and make sure you remain at your qualifying job until your loans have been forgiven.

Rebecca Safier contributed to this report.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 9 lenders of 2022!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
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1.74% – 7.99%4Undergrad
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1.74% – 7.99%6Undergrad
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2.05% – 5.25%7Undergrad
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1.86% – 6.01%Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Elfi

& Graduate

Visit PenFed

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1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.

Splash Financial Disclosures

Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount

The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.

To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of May 4, 2022.

2 Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

Student Loan Refinance Interest Rate Disclosure Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 2.99% APR to 8.24% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 1.99% APR to 8.24% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Earnest variable interest rate student loan refinance loans are based on a publicly available index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The variable rate is based on the rate published on the 25th day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month, rounded to the nearest hundredth of a percent. The rate will not increase more than once per month. The maximum rate for your loan is 8.95% if your loan term is 10 years or less. For loan terms of more than 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95%. Please note, we are not able to offer variable rate loans in AK, IL, MN, NH, OH, TN, and TX. Let us know if you have any questions and feel free to reach out directly to our team.

3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. ‍All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.15% effective Apr 22, 2021 and may increase after consummation.

4 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

Fixed rates range from 3.49% APR to 7.99% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Variable rates from 1.74% APR to 7.99% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law, Variable Interest rates on 5-, 7-, and 10-year terms are capped at 8.95% APR; 15- and 20-year terms are capped at 9.95% APR. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, presence of a co-signer and a variety of other factors. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. For the SoFi variable-rate product, the variable interest rate for a given month is derived by adding a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). APRs for variable-rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. This benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit lowers your interest rate but does not change the amount of your monthly payment. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi.

5 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

All credit products are subject to credit approval.

Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit

As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.

  1. Checking your rate with Laurel Road only requires a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
  2. Savings vary based on rate and term of your existing and refinanced loan(s). Refinancing to a longer term may lower your monthly payments, but may also increase the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Refinancing to a shorter term may increase your monthly payments, but may lower the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Review your loan documentation for total cost of your refinanced loan.
  3. After loan disbursement, if a borrower documents a qualifying economic hardship, we may agree in our discretion to allow for full or partial forbearance of payments for one or more 3-month time periods (not to exceed 12 months in the aggregate during the term of your loan), provided that we receive acceptable documentation (including updating documentation) of the nature and expected duration of the borrower’s economic hardship. During any period of forbearance interest will continue to accrue. At the end of the forbearance period, any unpaid accrued interest will be capitalized and be added to the remaining principle amount of the loan.
  4. Automatic Payment (“AutoPay”) Discount: if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically from a bank account, the interest rate will decrease by 0.25% and will increase back if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically from the borrower’s bank account. The 0.25% AutoPay discount will not reduce the monthly payment; instead, the discount is applied to the principal to help pay the loan down faster.

Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.

Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.

Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.

Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.


This information is current as of April 29, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.

6 Important Disclosures for Navient.

Navient Disclosures

You can choose between fixed and variable rates. Fixed interest rates are 2.99% – 8.24% APR (2.74% – 7.99% APR with Auto Pay discount). Starting variable interest rates are 1.99% APR to 8.24% APR (1.74% – 7.99% APR with Auto Pay discount). Variable rates are based on an index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) plus a margin. Variable rates are reset monthly based on the fluctuation of the index. We do not currently offer variable rate loans in AK, CO, CT, HI, IL, KY, MA, MN, MS, NH, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, and VA.

7 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Refinancing via is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it  endorse,  any educational institution.

Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of  5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.

As of 5/17/2022 student loan refinancing rates range from 2.05% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.49% APR – 7.93% Fixed APR with AutoPay.

8 Important Disclosures for PenFed.

PenFed Disclosures

Fixed Rate Loan Terms: 5 years/60 monthly payments, 8 years/96 monthly payments, 12 years/144 monthly payments or 15 years/180 monthly payments. Annual Percentage Rate is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed rates range from 3.29% to 5.43% APR. Rates are subject to change without notice. Fixed APR: Fixed rates will not change during the term. This rate is expressed as an APR. Since there are no fees associated with this loan offer, the APR is the same percentage as the actual interest rate of the loan. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.