To help public service workers get closer to forgiveness, in October 2021 the Department of Education (ED) announced limited-time changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program rules, referred to as the limited-time PSLF waiver. The limited-time PSLF waiver allowed borrowers to receive credit for past periods of repayment that would otherwise not have qualified for PSLF. Among other borrower accommodations, the waiver allowed all payments by student borrowers to count toward PSLF, regardless of loan program or payment plan. It also waived the requirement that payments be made in the full amount and on-time for all borrowers.
Although that limited-time PSLF waiver ended in October 2022, there are still programs and expansions available that PSLF borrowers may be able to take advantage of, most notably the one-time payment count adjustment for eligible borrowers. As part of this initiative, ED will conduct a one-time adjustment of IDR-qualifying payments for all Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program and federally owned Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans. Borrowers who have commercially managed FFEL, Perkins, or Health Education Assistance Loan (HEAL) Program loans need to apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan by the end of 2023, to get the full benefits of this one-time account adjustment. Learn more below.
While the limited-time PSLF waiver has expired, the primary eligibility criteria and benefits of PSLF remain. To be eligible for the program, you must:
Even with a thorough understanding of PSLF eligibility, the program requirements are dynamic and can be complicated to navigate on your own. Learn more about the ins and outs of PSLF here, or contact our GradFin specialists1 for a free consultation to better understand your forgiveness options. For the most up-to-date information on the PSLF program, visit the Federal Student Aid website at studentaid.gov/publicservice.
A prerequisite for PSLF, Income-driven Repayment (IDR) programs are designed to stabilize borrowers’ monthly student loan payments based on their discretionary income.The government’s different types of IDR programs include:
*New enrollments in PAYE are being accepted until further notice, but this plan will eventually be phased out. No changes for current enrollees.
**Only new enrollments from borrowers of consolidated Parent PLUS loans are being accepted into the ICR plan. No change for current enrollees.
As a federal student loan borrower, you will likely qualify for at least one of the above programs that could help make monthly payments more manageable as well as put you on a path to eventual forgiveness, even if you don’t qualify for PSLF. An important distinction between the PSLF and the above IDR programs is that if you enroll in PSLF, you will qualify for forgiveness in ten years rather than the 20 to 25 years associated with most IDR plans.
Also to note, there are currently proposed changes to IDR that could lower how much you pay each month, and the length of time needed to receive forgiveness, on some plans. Stay up-to-date on the latest changes to IDR programs at studentaid.gov and whitehouse.gov.
To better understand your PSLF eligibility, take our quiz:
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If you missed the deadline for the limited-time PSLF waiver, you could still take advantage of other payment reduction and forgiveness opportunities, including the Income-Driven Repayment Account Adjustment, a one-time payment count adjustment for eligible borrowers enrolled in an IDR program, which has a deadline at the end of 2023.
You could be eligible for the one-time account adjustment if:
If you’re a borrower with commercially managed FFEL, Perkins, or Health Education Assistance Loan (HEAL) Program loans, be sure to apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan by the end of 2023, to take advantage of this forgiveness opportunity. To learn more, schedule a free call with a GradFin specialist.
Another potential forgiveness opportunity is through Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF).
While PSLF requires enrollment in specific income-driven repayment plans, Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF) expands the list of qualifying repayment plans to the Graduated Repayment Plan, the Extended Repayment Plan, the Consolidation Standard Repayment Plan and the Consolidation Graduated Repayment Plan. To clarify, TEPSLF is separate from the Limited-Time PSLF waiver, and resumed along with customary PSLF requirements following the PSLF waiver expiration on October 31, 2022. Borrowers may qualify under TEPSLF when they previously did not under PSLF. TEPSLF is a temporary program and will end once a certain amount of loan forgiveness has been granted.
To pursue PSLF and find out if you qualify, you must provide paperwork, including an Employment Certification Form (ECF) filled out by each eligible employer in your work history. An ECF will need to be completed at least annually or whenever you change employers while enrolled in the program.It’s recommended to complete this step at studentaid.gov using the PSLF Help Tool. You can get the ECF from MOHELA’s site or elsewhere, but if it’s not generated by the Help Tool it will add several months of additional processing time.
If you have questions about next steps or how to qualify for PSLF, a student loan consultant at GradFin can help you understand all your options and guide you through the process. Learn more here.
For the most up-to-date information regarding PSLF, go to studentaid.gov/pslf.
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To qualify for PSLF, you must be employed by a U.S. federal, state, local, or tribal government or not-for-profit organization (federal service includes U.S. military service); work full-time for that agency or organization; have Direct Loans (or consolidate other federal student loans into a Direct Loan); repay your loans under an income-driven repayment plan; and make 120 qualifying payments. For full program requirements, visit: Federal Student Aid.
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