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A Guide To Public Service Loan Forgiveness

A Guide To The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

If you have Federal student loan debt and work for a qualifying non-profit organization, you should understand The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. This program offers an avenue for loan forgiveness for student loan borrowers who have chosen to dedicate their careers to public service.

Understanding the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

Established by the U.S. Congress in 2007, the PSLF program is designed to forgive the remaining balance on Direct Loans after you have made 120 qualifying payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer, usually a government or non-profit organization. The aim is to encourage graduates to work in public sector jobs, which often pay less than private-sector careers, by offering them relief from their student loan debt.

Eligibility Requirements

Qualifying for the PSLF isn’t as simple as just working in public service. There are specific eligibility requirements you must identify. These include:

1. Loan Type: Only Direct Loans are eligible for this program. If you have other federal loans like Perkins or FFELs, one potential option is to consolidate them into a Direct Consolidation Loan first.

2. Repayment Plan: You must be on an income-driven repayment plan. These plans cap your monthly payments at a percentage of your discretionary income. They include Income-Based Repayment (IBR), Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR), Pay As You Earn (PAYE), and Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) or to new Saving On A Valuable Education Plan (SAVE). (NOTE: Temporarily, payments made on other repayment plans may count towards PSLF until April 30, 2024.)

3. Qualifying Payments: You’ll need to make 120 qualifying payments. Furthermore, only payments made after October 1, 2007, count towards PSLF.

4. Employment: You must work full-time for a government or not-for-profit organization while making those payments and at the time of your loan forgiveness application and when the remaining balance on your loan is forgiven.

Application Process for PSLF

The application process for PSLF can be complex. You may need to submit an Employment Certification for Public Service Loan Forgiveness form every year or whenever you change employers. This helps the Department of Education, and it’s main PSLF servicer MOHELA, track your progress toward identifying the PSLF eligibility requirements.

Upon making your 120th qualifying payment, you can then apply for PSLF. The U.S. Department of Education recommends that you continue to make payments until your application has been processed and approved, as this process can take several months.

A Word of Caution

It’s essential to keep in mind that not everyone who applies for PSLF gets approved. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Education, as of 2019, only about 1% of people who applied for PSLF have actually had their loans forgiven. This could be due to many applicants failing to identify one or more of the criteria mentioned above.


The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program provides a valuable opportunity for borrowers embarking on a career journey in public service. While the road to establish loan forgiveness may be long and sometimes tricky, having a deeper understanding of how the program works can help steer you towards financial freedom.

Remember, it’s important to stay organized, stay informed, and regularly confirm your eligibility so as not to lose out on this benefit. If these processes seem overwhelming, don’t worry – I’m here to guide you through each step. Together, we can navigate the complexities of managing your student loan debts and ultimately, secure your financial future.

Want to see if you qualify for PSLF? Schedule a free consultation with me and I’ll let you know where you stand.

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