Act By October 31, 2022 to Save Thousands on Student Loan Repayment
If you have student loans, you may have heard of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. This program allows certain federal student loans to be forgiven after 10 years of payment (120 payments). If someone is employed by a U.S. federal, state, local, or tribal government or a not-for-profit organization, they may be eligible for the PSLF program. The sooner people submit the Public Service Loan Forgiveness & Temporary Expanded PSLF Certification and Application, the more money they stand to save – possibly thousands of dollars.
How does loan forgiveness work? To benefit, you must:
- Be working in public service (as noted above),
- Have a qualifying loan, and
- Enroll in a qualifying repayment plan.
After 120 on-time, qualifying monthly payments, the remainder of your loan is forgiven.
The first step to loan forgiveness is to ensure your employment qualifies you for the program. Again, working for the government, public service, or certain non-profit organizations may qualify you for PSLF. You also need to work a minimum of 30 hours per week – that employment can be divided between more than one qualifying employer. The Department of Education provides employment guidelines on their website.
Normally, the type of student loans that qualify for PSLF are loans received through the Direct Loan program. However, the U.S. Department of Education announced a change to program rules for a limited time because of the COVID-19 national emergency. Under the new rules, any prior federal student loan payment made will count as a qualifying payment, regardless of loan type, repayment plan, or whether the payment was made in full or on time. All you need is qualifying employment. This change will apply to student loan borrowers with Direct Loans, those who have already consolidated into the Direct Loan Program, and those who consolidate into the Direct Loan Program by Oct. 31, 2022. For more information visit studentaid.gov/announcements-events/pslf-limited-waiver.
Under the PSLF Limited Waiver opportunity, most of the PSLF qualifying payment rules have been suspended through Oct. 31, 2022. Through this temporary waiver, you may get credit for payments you’ve made on loans that would not normally qualify for PSLF. These payments will count even if you didn’t pay the full amount or on-time. However, only payments made after Oct. 1, 2007, can count as qualifying payments since that’s when the PSLF program began.
- Visit the Department of Education’s website to determine what types of loans you have and if they already qualify for PSLF or if they can be consolidated into a Direct Loan to maximize the loan forgiveness. Again, these non-qualifying loans must be consolidated by October 31, 2022.
- You also need to enroll and certify your loan repayment under the PSLF. Completing the PSLF Limited Waiver will allow any prior federal student loan payment made after Oct. 1, 2007 to count toward PSLF.
- If you already have Direct Loans and have not completed a PSLF form, use the Department of Education’s PSLF Help Tool. This site will help you complete and submit the form to receive credit towards PSLF.
- If you have at least one FFEL Program loan, Perkins Loan, or other federal student loan, complete a Direct Consolidation Loan application by Oct. 31, 2022 to receive credit towards loan forgiveness on those loans. Generally, Parent PLUS loans are not eligible for the limited PSLF waiver.
- Finally, follow-up with your servicer. Once you submit the PSLF form, your servicer will know you are enrolled in the PSLF and will track your progress. Sometimes your loan servicer may change, so pay close attention to any information you receive about your student loan, even if you do not recognize the company.
It is important to keep track of your PSLF payments. Save your monthly student loan account statements. Make sure your statements match your count of payments.
Also, ask your employer to certify your qualifying employment once per year. Be sure to submit the verification to your student loan servicer.
Finally, it is important to note that the 120 payments do not have to be made consecutively. If you work for a qualifying employer for a period of time and make payments on your loans, that progress is not lost if you change employment tracks. In the event you return to work with a qualified employer, you can resume making payments toward PSLF forgiveness.
To learn more about repayment options for student loans, visit www.studentaid.gov or contact American Financial Solutions’ student loan department. Our counselors can help borrowers navigate the federal student loan system and make informed decisions about the right repayment choice!
Published May 10, 2022.