With the recent confirmation of federal student loan repayment continuing in February 2022 after being paused for the pandemic, you might be scrambling to review your repayment plans and worrying about your finances.
While you might be considering methods such as refinancing or deferment, if you are a university employee, then you may want to consider applying for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. Years down the line, it could save you thousands of dollars.
What Is PSLF?
Essentially, the PSLF program is meant to forgive any remaining balance on your loans after you have made 120 qualifying monthly payments. These payments must be under a qualifying repayment plan while you were working full-time for a qualifying employer.
Your loans must be Direct Loans to be eligible, but if you have FFEL or Perkins loans, then you may consolidate them into a Direct Loan to qualify.
For a limited time until October 31, 2022, you may receive credit for payments that would not normally qualify for PLSF, such as on FFEL or Perkins loans before consolidation even on the wrong repayment plan. You can learn more about the waived requirements due to COVID-19 by visiting the official Student Aid website.
Do I Qualify as a University Employee?
Qualifying employers for the PSLF program are defined as:
- Government organizations at any level (U.S. federal, state, local, or tribal) – this includes the U.S. military
- Not-for-profit organizations that are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code
Your specific job description (teacher, administrator, support staff, etc.) doesn’t matter when applying for PSLF, only if your employer meets the qualifying requirements. Public elementary and secondary schools, as well as public colleges and universities, are considered under the first category. If you are employed at a private elementary and secondary school or college and university, you may still qualify for PSLF as long as the school you work for is a not-for-profit organization. If it operates for profit, then it is not considered a qualifying employer.
In addition to working for a qualifying employer, you must be working full-time. This can be defined as your employer’s definition of full-time or working for at least 30 hours per week, whichever amount is greater. If you do not have a full-time job and instead work several part-time jobs, you may still qualify as long as the combined amount of hours you work will equal to 30 per week, and each employer is a qualifying employer.
Waiving the Requirements
In order to make the most out of this program, it is best to apply as early as possible especially under the currently waived requirements. Consolidate your loans into a Direct Loan as soon as you can, and sign up for a qualifying repayment program (any income-driven repayment plan). Under these IDR repayment plans, the amount you regularly pay for your loans may change, so do your research on which plan is best for your current and projected future income.
To determine if you are on the right track for loan forgiveness, you need to submit a Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) & Temporary Expanded PSLF (TEPSLF) Certification & Application, which can also be found on the Student Aid website. Once you’ve done that, you’ll know if you’re eligible for PSLF.