$42B in student debt forgiven for public workers: How to qualify for the PSLF program

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(NEXSTAR) – As federal student loan borrowers nationwide await the Supreme Court’s decision on President Biden’s debt forgiveness, new data shows thousands have received relief as part of a separate program.

More than 615,000 borrowers have received $42 billion in debt relief since October 2021 due to temporary changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, the Department of Education announced Monday.

The PSLF program, created in 2007, is intended to help employees with nonprofit and government agencies by forgiving their student loans after 10 years of payments (120 total payments). The overall approval rate among applicants was low – only around 7,000 borrowers had been approved before 2021, according to the Education Department.

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In October 2021, the Biden administration temporarily waived certain PSLF requirements that granted borrowers credit toward loan cancellation regardless of their federal loan type or if they had been enrolled in a specific payment plan, as long as they consolidated their debt before the end of the waiver in October 2022.

While those temporary changes have ended, the PSLF program remains available to public workers and improvements are scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2023. Those changes include helping borrowers earn progress toward relief, simplifying employment criteria, and providing borrowers the chance to correct account problems.

Do you qualify for PSLF?

While the temporary waiver has ended for PSLF, the program still exists.

As explained above, PSLF is intended to give eligible public service employees debt forgiveness after a set number of payments are made.

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Eligible borrowers must:

  • Be employed by a U.S. federal, state, local, or tribal government or not-for-profit organization (federal service includes U.S. military service)

  • Work full-time for that agency or organization

  • Have Direct Loans (or consolidate other federal student loans into a Direct Loan)

  • Make 120 qualifying payments

You can use the PSLF Help Tool to determine if you work for a qualifying employer, have eligible loans, and have already made qualifying payments.

PSLF relief is separate from Biden’s student debt relief. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on that program before the end of June.

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