The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program was created to encourage graduates to enter into full-time public service employment. To receive this type of student loan debt forgiveness, you must make 120 qualifying monthly payments on an eligible federal student loan while employed full time by a qualifying public service employer. Under this program, federal student loan payments first became eligible after October 1, 2007. Since 120 qualifying payments are required to qualify for forgiveness, the earliest possible date for granting loan forgiveness was October 2017.
The PSLF Program was originally set up to only cover loans made under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. This direct loan program covers non-defaulted loans of the following types:
Other federal student loans may become eligible for PSLF forgiveness if they are consolidated into a direct consolidation loan. However, only payments made toward the consolidated loan are counted as qualifying payments toward the required 120 program payments. Types of loans that may be consolidated into a direct consolidation loan include:
Eligibility for student loan forgiveness under the PSLF Program requires that the borrower, the loan payments and the borrower’s public service employment meet specific criteria.
To be eligible for forgiveness under the PSLF program you satisfy the following:
The 120 Loan Payments
The PSLF Program requires that you make 120 monthly payments toward the direct loans you are seeking forgiveness for. Since the program was initiated in October 2007, payments made before then don’t count toward meeting the 120-payment requirement. Timeliness of the payments is also important. All 120 qualifying payments must be made for the full scheduled installment amount and be no later than 15 days after the scheduled payment due date.
The PSLF Program also requires that the 120 required payments be made under one of the following direct loan program repayment plans:
Parents, please take note of the following:
Public Service Employment
To qualify for federal student loan relief under the PSLF Program, you must be a full-time employee of a public service organization or hold a full-time position at AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps. The following types of organizations meet the PSLF Program definition for “Public Service Organization”:
The PSLF Program defines full-time employment as being at least an annual average of 30 hours per week and meeting the employer’s definition of full time. Time spent participating in religious instruction, worship services, or any form of proselytizing does not qualify.
Teachers and other public service organization employees who work under contract for at least eight out of 12 months meet the full-time requirement if they work an average of at least 30 hours per week during the contractual period and receive credit by their employer for a full year’s worth of employment.
Meeting the full-time employment requirement is possible by employment in more than one qualifying part-time job as long as the combined average time worked is at least 30 hours per week.
More information about the PSLF Program can be found at the U.S. Department of Education's Federal Student Aid website.
The U.S. Department of Education has prepared the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Employment Certification Form to help you keep track of your eligibility for student loan forgiveness under the PSLF Program. Submitting this form annually and whenever you change employers is one way to ensure you stay on the path to loan forgiveness.