May 10, 2022

Do Therapists In Public Health Qualify For Student Loan Forgiveness?


Therapy is an essential field that covers a vast range of treatments, such as mental health therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and marriage or family counseling. Therapists provide a mental health diagnosis and come up with a treatment plan for patients in various places such as hospitals, offices, treatment centers, and group homes. While they can’t recommend medication, a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement if anyone wants to pursue a career in therapy or counseling. More often than not, this means having student loan debt.

But, do therapists in public health qualify for student loan forgiveness?

Yes! In fact, there are multiple student relief options for graduates who have decided to pursue a career in public health as a therapist or counselor. Here are some options you can consider:

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program is a student loan forgiveness program offered by the federal government to therapists or counselors working in the public health sector. This means being employed full-time (minimum of 30 hours per week) as a mental health therapist or counselor in non-profit organizations or government agencies. To be eligible for PSLF, you must be working for one of the following organizations:

  • Federal, state, local, or tribal government organizations
  • Not-for-profit organizations that are exempt from taxes under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code
  • Not-for-profit organizations that aren’t tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) but provide certain types of qualifying services
  • AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps

The way PSLF works is that you must make 120 qualifying payments while employed in one of the above organizations, though these payments don’t need to be consecutive. After 10 years of service, PSLF provides complete student loan forgiveness for the remaining balance of your student loan debt. The amount forgiven is also tax-free!

Keep in mind that the PSLF only works for federal direct loans, so make sure you have eligible loans.

Qualifying Public Services for Non-Tax-Exempt Organizations

You may qualify for PSLF if your nonprofit employer offers specific public services but is not tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS. Confirm if your employer provides at least one of these public services:

  • Emergency Management: Organizations that deal with the humanitarian aspects of emergencies such as flash floods, hurricanes, and wildfires.
  • Military Service: Organizations that offer services on behalf of the U.S. armed forces or the National Guard.
  • Public Safety: Organizations that provide ambulance, crime-fighting, firefighting, or similar assistance and services.
  • Law Enforcement: Organizations that enforce criminal law for crime prevention, control, or reduction.
  • Public Interest Law Services: Organizations offering legal services and are funded partially or fully by a local, state, federal, or tribal government.
  • Early Childhood Education: Educational organizations that may offer services such as licensed or regulated child care, Head Start, and state-funded prekindergarten.
  • Special Public Service: Organizations dedicated to assisting individuals with disabilities and the elderly.
  • Public Health: Organizations that employ nurses, nurse practitioners, nurses in a clinical setting, and full-time professionals engaged in healthcare practitioner occupations, according to Gov. Other qualifying employees include counselors, social workers, and those in health support occupations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines the terms associated with community and social service specialist occupations.
  • Public Library Services: Organizations that offer library services where the general public can read books, access the internet, use study areas, consult reference materials, and print or photocopy documents without being a member.
  • School-Based Services: Organizations that offer school-based services such as cafeteria or library services.

Exemptions and Limitations

Your primary employer can tell you about its tax status and if it is a nonprofit organization. Generally, eligible nonprofits include most private elementary and secondary schools, as well as private colleges and universities.

However, organizations that are labor unions or partisan political organizations are ineligible PSLF employers. In addition, you may have limits on your PSLF qualifications if your job nature involves religious activities.

Be sure to confirm your organization’s type and tax status to determine your PSLF eligibility. Or, you can use the Chipper's Organization Search tool to find information about your organization.

Income-Driven Repayment Forgiveness

If you're a therapist who works at a for-profit facility, an option for you would be to pay your loans while enrolled in an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan. This approach takes longer than PSLF as it can extend to 20 years (25 for graduate loans) before the remaining loan balance can be forgiven. Since an IDR plan caps your monthly payments based on your discretionary income and family size, it's a good option for those who have a high debt amount relevant to their income.

There are five different IDR Plans to choose from:

  • Revised Pay As You Earn
  • Pay As You Earn
  • Income-Contingent
  • Income-Based (2014)
  • Income-Based (2009)

Get Track Now!

Regardless of which option is best for you, make sure to get on track as soon as possible as both programs are timely! Getting on track for PSLF or IDR forgiveness will save you a lot of time and money in the long run! Securely link your loans with Chipper to discover how much your forgiveness potential is + get on track for student loan forgiveness now! 🤗

Use Chipper for Lower Payments

Chipper can help you find a student loan repayment plan that actually fits into your budget. You simply fill out your information and link your student loan account for us to generate your options in seconds. We help the average student loan borrower save over $300 a month off their student loan monthly payment. Lowering your monthly payment plan can game changing for your personal finance and can be done in minutes! Sign up for Chipper today to get on track with your student loans.

Use Chipper for The Best Path to Forgiveness

Finding your path to student loan forgiveness is easier than ever before. Chipper helps members find better Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plans every day. Once enrolled in an eligible repayment plan, we can help you explore your forgiveness options and understand your path towards forgiveness. Sign up with Chipper today and get on track with your student loans.

Use Chipper for Round-Ups

Paying off your student loans doesn’t have to be a long and painful journey. Round-Ups are a way to directly pay off your loans with your everyday spending! By tracking your linked spending account(s), we will calculate the rounded up amount from each transaction in a week (IE spending $4.28 would add $0.72 to the weekly amount). We then initiate a payment towards your student loan for the weekly amount. Get chipping away on your student loans with Chipper today.

Use Chipper for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program was created to provide relief to borrowers aiding the public sector. Unfortunately, 30% of applicants are denied due to incorrect paperwork. We can help! Chipper was created to solve this issue by assisting borrowers in understanding their options as well as allowing forgiveness eligible users enroll into the best forgiveness program available. Sign up for Chipper today to see your student loan forgiveness options and get the forgiveness you deserve.

Use Chipper for Teacher Loan Forgiveness (TLF)

The Teacher Loan Forgiveness (TLF) program was created to enable teachers working in Title 1 schools to receive student loan forgiveness of up to $17,500 (depending on their teaching subject). Chipper has helped teachers from all over the country qualify for TLF program and can help you get the forgiveness you deserve today. Find out if you qualify for forgiveness in minutes with our employer search tool.

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