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Public Service Loan Forgiveness for Student Loans

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In a Nutshell

If you’re in public service and work for a government or a qualifying nonprofit, you may be eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness of your federal student loans.

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated January 18, 2021

If you’re in public service and work for a government or a qualifying nonprofit, you may be eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness of your federal student loans. 

Under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, student loan balances are forgiven after 10 years of repayment. But, not all loans or loan repayment programs qualify for this. 

Regardless of where you are in your career, if you’re working in the public service sector, consider looking into this now, so there are no obstacles to student loan forgiveness when the time comes. 

What jobs are eligible for PSLF? 

This program is less about the borrower’s specific job. Rather, it looks at your employer. Qualifying employers are: 

  • Government organization at any level (federal, state, local, or tribal) 

  • Non-profit organizations that are tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the tax code

Not all nonprofits are tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3). If you’re not sure whether you work for a qualifying employer, you can use this tool on the IRS website to double check. 

Only full time employment in public service jobs is considered qualifying employment. A full-time AmeriCorps or Peace Corps position also counts as qualifying employment.  You can work two part-time public service jobs to be eligible for PSLF forgiveness. 

What loans are eligible for PSLF? 

Only federal student loans under the direct loan program are eligible for PSLF. It does not apply to any other federal or private loans. 

Loans under Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program and Federal Perkins Loan Program may become eligible if consolidated with a Direct Consolidation Loan. 

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What’s a qualifying repayment plan? 

Only income-driven repayment plans are “qualifying repayment plans” for PSLF. The available income-driven repayment options for federal direct loans are Income-Based Repayment (IBR), Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR), Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE).

If you’re in a 10-year standard repayment plan, your payments so far are qualifying payments, but the repayment plan itself is not. You’ll have to change your repayment plan to an income-driven repayment plan to meet the eligibility requirements set by the U.S. Department of Education. 

Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF)

If you’ve made all 120 payments but you didn’t make them under a qualifying repayment plan, don’t give up quite yet. The Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program allows you to count qualifying monthly payments made after October 1, 2007 even if you were not in an income-driven repayment plan as required. This exception is available only for Direct Loans. 

How are the 10 years calculated? 

It’s really 120 months of repayment under a qualifying repayment plan, not necessarily 10 consecutive years. The 120 payments don’t even have to be consecutive. 

Student loan borrowers who complete all PSLF payments on eligible loans (whether subsidized or unsubsidized) can apply to have the remaining balance forgiven. 

In order to receive loan forgiveness, you must submit the PSLF application to FedLoan Servicing.  You may mail the form to this address:

U.S. Department of Education

 FedLoan Servicing

 P.O. Box 69184

 Harrisburg, PA 17106-9184

You may also fax your PSLF form to 717-720-1628.

If FedLoan Servicing is already your student loan servicer, you can upload your application on their website. Once the Department of Education has received your application, it will notify you. Your loans will be placed in forbearance while your application is being processed.

What else should I know about PSLF? 

You have to make sure that your employment is certified. At minimum, this means that you submit the PSLF Employment Certification Form whenever you change employers. It’s best to submit the form once a year. This will help you track and verify your qualifying payments and that you’re working for a qualifying employer full time. 

If you have student loan debt and work for a qualifying employer, you can get started by creating an account and taking  advantage of the PSLF Help Tool offered by the Federal Student Aid Office.

Written By:

Attorney Andrea Wimmer


Andrea practiced exclusively as a bankruptcy attorney in consumer Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases for more than 10 years before joining Upsolve, first as a contributing writer and editor and ultimately joining the team as Managing Editor. While in private practice, Andrea handled... read more about Attorney Andrea Wimmer

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