The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program was established in 2007 to help borrowers pay off their student loan debt easier and faster. Under the federal program, eligible borrowers can have their loans discharged after 10 years if they meet eligibility requirements.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness Requirements
• Must work full-time for the government or eligible non-for-profit within a designated field, such as firefighting, teaching, government, nursing, public interest law, military, or religious work. Read about Shawna Newman’s successful journey to loan forgiveness.
• Make 10 years’ worth of payments, totaling 120 payments (although you are still eligible if you have to pause payments through forbearance), for the full amount within 15 days of your monthly payment due date.
• Have loans in the federal direct loan program; however, you can consolidate your federal loans for one payment under PSLF.
Careers that Qualify for Student Loan Forgiveness
It may seem as if the field of work is narrow; however, public service jobs can encompass a variety of employers and roles – not just careers in government. The Department of Education lists public service areas as:
- Military and civilian service to the military
- Emergency management
- Public safety
- Law enforcement
- Public interest law
- Early childhood education
- Public service for individuals with disabilities
- Public health
- Public education
- Public library services
- School library services
- Other school-based services, like health or nursing services, social work services, or parent counseling and training
- Public service for the elderly
How to Get Started Qualifying for Public Service Loan Forgiveness
Contact the Department of Education
Employer Certification Form
The US Department of Education has an employment certification form and instructions. Use of the employment certification form is recommended but not required. It is best, however, to submit the form annually or whenever the borrower changes employers to ensure that the qualifying service is properly recorded.
Upon submission, the US Department of Education’s servicer will inform the borrower whether the employment reported on the form satisfies the requirements for public service loan forgiveness. Borrowers will also be able to track their progress toward obtaining public service loan forgiveness.
After the borrower has fulfilled the requirements for public service loan forgiveness (i.e., made 120 qualifying payments while working full-time in a qualifying public service job), the borrower will need to file a PSLF application to obtain the loan forgiveness. A link to this form will be added to this web site when it becomes available.
Obtaining a Federal Direct Consolidation Loan
To obtain a federal direct consolidation loan, contact the US Department of Education.
If you have not yet consolidated, you can seek a federal direct consolidation loan in order to obtain an income contingent repayment plan. Federal direct consolidation loans are available if you haven’t been able to obtain a FFEL consolidation loan, income sensitive repayment terms acceptable to you or if you have defaulted on your FFEL loans.
You can request income-contingent repayment or income-based repayment. The consolidation loan application does not currently include a checkbox for requesting these repayment plans, so you must ask for it separately.