The Department of Education announced an overhaul of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program that includes a waiver allowing all borrower payments to count toward PSLF, regardless of the loan program or payment plan.
In other words, previously disqualified loan payments can now be counted toward forgiveness.
NTEU has long been a strong voice calling for better management of the program and loan forgiveness for public sector employees who have served for 10 years or more. This summer, hundreds of NTEU members joined with a coalition of organizations to urge the Biden administration to correct the mistakes of the previous administration and restore this important program to what Congress intended.
The Department estimates that this waiver will help more than 550,000 borrowers who had previously consolidated their loans, with most receiving 23 additional payments. This includes approximately 22,000 borrowers who will be immediately eligible to have their federal student loans discharged without further action. Another 27,000 borrowers could potentially qualify for $2.82 billion in forgiveness if they certify additional periods of employment.
By comparison, 16,000 borrowers have had their loans forgiven under PSLF since the program was created in 2007.
In one of the most significant changes, any prior payments made while working for a qualifying employer (such as the federal government) will count as a qualifying payment, regardless of loan type or repayment plan. This includes those who made payments on loans originated through the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP); those who consolidated their FFELP loans into the Direct Loan program; and those who have made 120 payments on a Direct Loan, but in the wrong repayment plan.
Additionally, the Department said it will review denied PSLF applications to identify and correct processing errors, and directly contact borrowers to take the steps they need to get relief and that it will begin data matches early next year to automatically provide credit toward PSLF for military service members and federal employees without requiring an application.
If you’ve already applied for PSLF and had at least some employment certified, the Department will award additional payments without further action. If necessary, Federal Student Aid may contact you to certify additional months of employment.
Borrowers who need to verify their employment must submit an application by Oct. 31, 2022. Those with FFELP loans will have to consolidate into the Direct Loan program and submit an application. See this fact sheet for details about specific situations.
This is a big win for the college graduates who put their talents to work for the American people by joining the federal workforce. Scientists, lawyers, accountants, auditors, public health professionals and all manner of highly-skilled employees – many of whom could have earned higher salaries in the private sector – instead chose public service. NTEU thanks those members who raised their voices in urging reforms to this important program.