How do I qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program and temporary waiver relief?
PSLF forgives the balance of your federal student loans after you make 120 (10 years) “qualifying payments”. Forgiven balances are not subject to income tax. Under original (non-waiver) PSLF program, you qualify for PSLF if you meet the following requirements:
- You are in a “Direct Loan” program
- You are enrolled in an Income-Driven-Repayment (IDR) plan
- Your payments are made on time and in full while working full time with a qualifying employer
- A qualifying employer includes government agencies at any level (Federal, State, Local, Tribal), 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations, or serving as a full time volunteer for Americorps or the Peace Corps.
Note: The 120 payments are cumulative. They do not have to be made consecutively.
What was the PSLF Waiver Relief?
The federal government temporarily waived certain key program requirements. Borrowers who previously did not meet the original program rules were eligible for forgiveness or additional payment credit toward the 120 qualifying payments required. The PSLF Waiver Opportunity expired October 31, 2022. For more details on this relief see the FSA PSLF Limited Waiver Opportunity webpage.
What changed under the Temporary Waiver?
- All types of federal loans qualified for forgiveness. Previously, only Direct Loans qualified for PSLF. Under the Waiver, you got credit for payments made on FFEL, Perkins and other non-Direct loans.
- Payments made under any repayment plan qualified for forgiveness. Before, you had to be enrolled in an Income-Driven-Repayment (IDR) plan for a payment to count.
- Additional credit for periods in deferment or non-covid related forbearance. Borrowers may get credit for certain periods spent in deferment or non-covid related forbearance through the IDR and PSLF Forgiveness Account Adjustment. This will be done automatically in the upcoming months.
You still have a chance to benefit from some of the Temporary Waiver rules if you take action by May 1, 2023!
The IDR Adjustment allows borrowers to get additional payment credit towards PSLF. The deadline to benefit from this new relief is May 1, 2023. Read more here.
What should you do?
- Update your contact information: Make sure your loan servicer and Federal Student Aid (FSA) have updated information. Click here to update your FSA information. If you don’t have an account, establish one.
- Verify your employment qualifies: Log into the FSA PSLF Help Tool using your FSA ID. You will need your employer’s Employer ID Number (EIN). You can find this on your W-2 or by asking your HR department. You will need this for every employer you want to get credit for.
- Determine your loan types: Log into your Federal Student Aid (FSA) account at studentaid.gov and click “View Details” to determine the type of loans you have. If you have “FEEL” or “Perkins” you will need to take further action. See next section.
Actions you may need to take by May 1, 2023:
- If you have Federal Family Education (FFEL), Perkins or Health Education Assistance (HEAL) loans, you must consolidate them into Direct Consolidation loans to receive PSLF qualifying payment credit for the periods prior to consolidation (and going forward). You can file a Direct Consolidation Loan (DCL) application at studentaid.gov. If you have Parent Plus loasn, contact EDCAP for additional assistance.
- Submit the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Certification and Application Form (OMB No. 1845-0110). You can use the PSLF Help Tool to generate the form. Follow the submission instructions on section 7 of the form. Complete this form for every employer you are trying to get credit toward.
I filed the PSLF/TEPSLF Certification & Application Form, what now?
- It will be reviewed. It is taking weeks or months in some cases to get a final determination. Your loans will go through a couple of reviews. The first review is to see if you qualify under the “original” PSLF program and the second is to determine your eligibility and payment count under the Waiver.
- Once your PSLF/TEPSLF Certification & Application Form is reviewed, you will get a notice letting you know the number of payments that have counted and the number outstanding for PSLF eligibility. Don’t panic if you get an initial notice not giving you all the qualifying payments you expect. Chances are, your loans are still in the process of being reviewed under the waiver.
- If you feel you got a final determination and don’t agree with the outcome, you can file a request for reconsideration with Federal Student Aid, or file a complaint with your servicer. Don’t give up, reach out to EDCAP if you need help filing a complaint.
Tip: Submit the PSLF/TEPSLF Certification & Application Form every year and when you change jobs to make sure your payments are being counted.
How do I know if my loans are direct loans?
- Your loans will say so. It will say “Direct….” If you took out loans after July 1, 2010, chances are they are direct loans.
- If you took out loans prior to July 1, 2010, they may be what are known as FFEL loans. You may also have Perkins loans. To qualify for PSLF, you would need to consolidate non-direct loans into a new direct loan.
Is there one specific Income Driven Repayment plan I must enroll in?
- There are four Income Driven Repayment plans: Revised Pay As You Earn Repayment (REPAYE), Pay As Your Earn (PAYE), Income-Based Repayment Plan (IBR) and Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR).
- Your specific loans will determine which IDR plans you qualify for. As long as you enroll in one of these plan(s), you will meet this requirement.
Is my Parent Plus loan eligible for PSLF?
- Parent Plus loans were not eligible for the waiver relief but will be eligible for PSLF credit during the IDR Account Adjustment period. If you consolidate your Parent Plus loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan on or before May 1, 2023, you will not lose qualifying payment credit towards PSLF or IDR Forgiveness accumulated prior to the consolidation.
- Direct Consolidation loans containing ANY Parent Plus loans are only eligible for the Standard or Graduated Repayment plans and the Income Contingent Repayment (ICR) plan.
- If you have both Parent Plus loans and your own student loans, get help. You should not consolidate both your own and Parent Plus loans together without getting expert advice.
- Contact EDCAP for a one-on-one consultation.
If you have not done so, file the PSLF/TEPSLF Certification & Application Form. This is the best way to know if you qualify for the program and benefit from the temporary waiver relief.
Call us if you have questions or are encountering hurdles qualifying for PSLF.