How do I apply for public service loan forgiveness?
Forms for canceling the remaining debt are not yet available, since
the soonest any borrower would obtain public service loan forgiveness
is 2017. It would be a good idea for borrowers to preserve
documentation of their full-time employment in a public service job
each year, in case it is necessary. For example, keep a copy of your
W-2 statements and/or the last pay stub of each year in a file folder.
Borrowers may also have their employer complete an employment certification form (instructions).
Borrowers should consider submitting the form at least annually and
whenever they change employers to ensure that the qualifying service
is properly recorded.
To qualify for public service loan forgiveness you will need to move
your federal student loans into the Direct Loan program. If the loans are
not already in the Direct Loan program, you can move them there by
consolidating them at loanconsolidation.ed.gov.
(You can do this even if you've already consolidated them in the FFEL program.)
Choose the income-based repayment plan to maximize the amount of
forgiveness. You must make 120 payments (10 years worth of payments) while
employed full-time in a public service job; the employment does not
need to be continuous. The forgiveness is not retroactive, so prior
employment in a public service job does not count. Public service loan
forgiveness is all or nothing; you will not get any forgiveness if you
work less than 10 years in a public service job. Before you commit
to public service loan forgiveness, use an income-based repayment calculator
to check whether there will be a financial benefit from public service
loan forgiveness. Generally, borrowers whose federal student loan debt
exceeds their income will benefit, but even some borrowers whose debt
is less than their income might benefit.
My state previously offered teacher loan forgiveness, but
since then has reneged on this commitment. How certain is it that
public service loan forgiveness will still exist ten years from now?
Public service loan forgiveness is authorized by federal law (the
College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007). While nothing prevents
Congress from repealing this provision, it is highly unlikely that
they would do so without either grandfathering in current students or
replacing it with a similar benefit.
I've worked in a public service career for the past ten
years. Can I get my federal student loans forgiven now?
ten-year clock for public service loan forgiveness starts on October
1, 2007 or the date you start repaying your loans in the Direct Loan
program while working full-time in a public service job, whichever
comes later. Thus this benefit is on a going-forward basis only, and
does not give retroactive credit for past employment in public service.
What is a public service job? Does this mean working for the government?
Public service jobs include teachers, first responders (policy, fire,
EMT), public librarians, social workers, public defenders and
prosecutors, and people who work for tax-exempt charitable
organizations. It also includes people who work for the government and
the military. (Members of Congress are not eligible.)
If your job doesn't qualify for public service loan forgiveness, you
can still have the remaining debt forgiven after 25 years in the
income-based repayment plan.
Does working for a foreign NGO count for public service loan forgiveness?
No. The catchall clause in the statute is for employment in a tax exempt
501(c)(3) organization. Foreign NGOs are not 501(c)(3). The main
opportunity for working in a foreign country would be through a
full-time Peace Corps position, per the regulations at
34 CFR 685.219(c)(ii).
Does my career qualify for public service loan forgiveness?
Call 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) to ask about a specific field
Do the payments need to be consecutive?
No, the payments while working full-time in a public service job do
not need to be consecutive. For example, if you were laid off from a
full-time public service job and got another public service job a few
months later, the intervening months would not disqualify you,
although they would not count toward the 120-payment requirement.