Public Service Loan Forgivess (PSLF)
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program helps student loan borrowers working in nonprofit or government jobs by forgiving the remaining balance on your loans after you have made 10 years of qualifying payments.
For specific instructional videos on Public Service Loan Forgiveness go to the Student Borrower Protection Center website.
To take advantage of the temporary waiver period (and get credit for previous payments that may not have qualified before), you should complete and submit the PSLF form (formally called the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) & Temporary Expanded PSLF (TEPSLF) Certification & Application). As you work toward PSLF, you should also plan to complete this form annually or when you change employers. If you have already made 120 qualifying payments, you should fill out and submit this same form.
You can use the Department of Education’s PSLF Help Tool to determine whether you work for a qualifying employer for the PSLF or Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF) programs, suggests actions you can take to become eligible for PSLF, and guides you through the PSLF form and submission process. It’s strongly recommended that you read Become a Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Help Tool Ninja before getting started.
- We also suggest that you take a look at the Student Borrower Protection Center’s guide to navigating PSLF. This page includes helpful short videos walking you through each step, including a program overview, how to identify your student loans for PSLF, consolidating your loans, and certifying your employment.
The Department of Education says that most people complete their PSLF Help Tool process in less than 30 minutes (the process must be completed in a single session); you will also need to have your PSLF form(s) signed by your employer(s). Once you have submitted your PSLF form (and consolidation application if needed), it could take several months for the Department to process your applications and update your status.
The entire process to get to forgiveness depends on your own journey but will be at least ten years (120 qualifying payments).
The Department of Education is now offering a time-limited waiver so that student borrowers can count payments from all federal loan programs or repayment plans toward forgiveness. This includes loan types and payment plans that were not previously eligible.
For a limited time (through October 31), you may receive credit for past periods of repayment on loans that would otherwise not qualify for PSLF. If you have FFEL, Perkins, or other federal student loans, you'll need to consolidate your loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan to qualify for PSLF both in general and under the waiver. Before consolidating, check to see if you work for a qualifying employer.
Past periods of repayment will now count regardless of whether you made a payment, made that payment on time, for the full amount due, on a qualifying repayment plan. Periods of deferment or forbearance, and periods of default, continue to not qualify.
The waiver period ends October 31, meaning you must submit a PSLF form – the single application used to review employment certification, payment counts, and processing of forgiveness – on or before October 31 to have previously ineligible payments counted. If you have FFEL or Perkins loans that you have not consolidated into a Direct Loan, you also need to submit your consolidation application by October 31 (You will still get credit for payments made prior to consolidation but must fill out the application form).
Here are some free resources:
- Department of Education’s PSLF Help Tool
- San Francisco’s Smart Money Coaching (free one-on-one financial coaching): https://sfgov.org/ofe/meet-financial-coach
- Bay Area Legal Aid’s Free Legal Advice Line: 800-551-5554 (best for more complicated individual loan questions, not basic PSLF program guidance)
- Additional resources, including short videos, to guide you through the PSLF process from the Student Borrower Protection Center: https://protectborrowers.org/our-projects/pslf/