Are my student loans eligible for public service loan forgiveness?

If you are employed by a government or not-for-profit organization, you may be able to receive loan forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program. The PSLF, which began in 2007, forgives the remaining balance on federal Direct Loans after you have made 120 monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer.

Qualifying employers for PSLF include: government organizations (e.g., federal, state, local), not-for-profit organizations that are tax-exempt under Section 501C(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and other types of not-for-profit organizations that are not tax-exempt if their primary purpose is to provide certain types of qualifying public services.

If you plan on applying for PSLF in the future, you should complete and submit an Employment Certification form annually or when you change employers. The U.S. Department of Education will use the information on the form to let you know if you are making qualifying PSLF payments. You can apply for PSLF once you have made 120 qualifying monthly payments towards your loan (e.g., 10 years). Keep in mind that you must be working for a qualifying employer both at the time you submit the application and at the time the remaining balance on your loan is forgiven.

Recently, PSLF made headlines due to the fact that many borrowers who thought they were working toward loan forgiveness under the program found out they were ineligible because they were in the wrong type of repayment plan. Many borrowers claimed they were told by their loan servicer that they qualified for PSLF, when in fact they did not. In 2018, Congress set aside $350 million to help fix this problem. The Consolidated Appropriations Act provides limited, additional conditions under which borrowers may become eligible for loan forgiveness if some or all of the payments they made on their federal Direct Loans were under a nonqualifying repayment plan for the PSLF Program. For more information on PSLF, visit studentaid.ed.gov.