Public service

Civil Service Loan Forgiveness Deadline Approaches: Here’s How to Apply

Do you know if you are eligible for public service loan cancellation? Some 3.5 million federal student borrowers who work in the public service, including teachers, government employees, first responders and firefighters, may be eligible for student loan forgiveness under a temporary expansion of the PSLF program. But the window to apply for it”limited PSLF waiver” closes.

The PSLF program is not new, but the vast majority of borrowers who applied for forgiveness before the expanded relief were denied loan forgiveness. New regulatory changes in October 2021 and April 2022 made pardons more accessible to more public servants who have been in qualifying employment for 10 years or more.

This expanded waiver can pave the way for retroactive forgiveness and could count past payments toward the PSLF, giving borrowers the opportunity to be reconsidered for forgiveness if they were previously denied.

Now, eligible borrowers with different types of federal student loans, like FFEL or Perkins loans and those on income-based repayment plans have the option to apply for forgiveness. Anyone with eligible federal loans other than direct loans will need to consolidate their loans first, a process that can take up to 45 days, according to Martin Lynch, director of education at Cambridge Credit Counseling Corp.

With the waiver set to expire on October 31, anyone who needs to consolidate their loans must do so in early September to meet the waiver application deadline. Despite many officials appeal to President Joe Biden to extend the PSLF limited exemption, including Richard CordrayChief Operating Officer of Federal Student Aid, no decision has been made.

Here’s everything you need to know about applying for PSLF’s extended benefits waiver, including how to find out if you’re eligible, when and how to apply, and how to consolidate your loans. To find out more, here how canceling student loan debt can affect your credit score and here’s what you need to know about your new loan manager if you are eligible for the PSLF program.

What is the PSLF program and the eligibility conditions?

The PSLF program, first launched in 2007, was designed to help civil servants repay their loans faster.

The program works by providing loan forgiveness to eligible government officials who have made 120 eligible student loan payments. Yet, prior to the program’s expansion last October, the approval rating was horrendous: Nearly 99% of borrowers who applied since 2008 have been refused.

To qualify for the PSLF, you must be employed full-time by a U.S. federal, state, local, or tribal government agency—this includes the military—or nonprofit organization. You must have Federal Direct Loans or other types of federally guaranteed loans that have already been consolidated into Direct Loans and you must make 120 qualifying payments or 10 years of payments. Examples of eligible borrowers for the PSLF are workers like teachers, nurses, and firefighters who serve their local communities.

Am I now entitled to a loan forgiveness under the new PSLF conditions?

The exemption only applies to federal loans, which make up the vast majority, or more than 90%, total student loan debt. Borrowers in government jobs may be able to receive a discount for FFELfederally guaranteed loans made through private lenders, Perkins loans, and other non-standard or non-income-tested repayment plans for federal loans under the expanded waiver (see below ).

Borrowers can also receive credit for past payments and periods of employment, such as active military service, for which they would not have qualified in the past.

The easiest way to find out if you qualify is to apply for the limited exemption. Completing the waiver will help you do things like consolidate different types of loans or certify previous periods of employment for credit.

How do I apply for a PSLF pardon?

The Ministry of Education has a dedicated tool to guide you in your request for a limited exemption. The deadline to apply for the waiver is October 31, 2022, but the sooner you apply, the better. Some borrowers may not have to do anything to have their loan cancelled, but it’s a good idea to confirm your specific details.

If you have FFEL or Perkins loans, you will need to consolidate them into direct loans. This process can take several weeks, and Lynch recommends completing the process “at least 45 days before filing the PSLF application.” This means that you should take steps to consolidate no later than the first week of September to ensure you have enough time to file.

Should I consolidate my non-direct loans?

Previously, only direct loans with a standard or income-driven repayment plan were eligible for PSLF. However, for a limited time, you may be able to receive credit for past payments on federal loans that were not previously eligible for PSLF, regardless of your repayment plan. Borrowers with FFEL, Perkins, and other non-direct Federal loans must consolidate their loans through the Direct Consolidation Program before applying for the expanded PSLF waiver.

You can consolidate eligible federal student loans into a direct loan online at the Federal Student Aid website – you can find the Consolidation Application here. This will combine your existing federal loans into one direct loan with one interest rate and one monthly payment. By consolidating into a single direct loan and then applying for the expanded PSLF waiver, your past payments can now count for loan forgiveness, as long as you are in eligible government employment.

How does the student loan payment suspension affect my eligibility for the PSLF?

Federal student loan repayments have been on hold for more than two years and are currently set to expire August 31. Under the PSLF, each such suspended payment counts as an eligible loan payment during that period. So if your payments were suspended for 26 months, that counts as 26 payments on time, bringing you closer to your goal of 120.

What if I didn’t receive credit for past payments?

In the past, if you made payments but your loan servicer had incomplete or inaccurate records, you had to almost no recourse to counter their claims. Now, with the limited waiver, you can apply for forgiveness and have your payments count towards your debt and forgiveness.

Will the expanded waiver become permanent?

The Ministry of Education said in its statement that it will continue to roll out and update its policies in the coming months as it attempts to get the PSLF program back on track.

With millions of borrowers at risk of losing their student loan forgiveness if they don’t apply for the waiver by the deadline, many advocates are urging the White House to extend the waiver opportunity. So far, the Biden administration has not indicated any intention to make the new rules permanent.

Correction, January 25: This article previously stated that private loans would be eligible for student loan forgiveness under the new waiver. It was incorrect. In addition to direct loans, only FFEL loans – which are federally backed, but often issued by private lenders – Perkins loans and other federal loans are eligible for the PSLF exemption.