If you borrowed student loans, you’ve probably spent years trying to pay off your debt — thankfully, loan forgiveness programs can help to cut down this time. However, you may have questions if you’re working at a non-profit. If you’re worried about the burdens of paying off your student loans but aren’t quite convinced of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, you’ve come to the right place.
What is Public Service Loan Forgiveness?
Created in 2007 by President George W. Bush, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) allows federal student loan borrowers to have their debt forgiven after 10 years. It was first introduced as a means to encourage people to take up jobs in the public sector, where the demand for manpower is high but the salaries are usually lower.
Before you can take advantage of this opportunity, you must be working for either a 501(c)(3) non-profit or the government. Furthermore, you will also need to make 120 qualifying monthly payments under an income-driven repayment plan. If you’re facing a large amount of student loan debt, then PSLF may potentially save you thousands of dollars.
Is Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Legitimate?
Many people who are currently enrolled in the program are worried because achieving forgiveness is proving to be harder than we thought it would be. As of 2019, more than 110,000 applications were submitted for PSLF, yet only 1,216 were approved. Moreover, various scams have been linked to Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
Because there are so many dealing with education debt, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of student loan forgiveness scammers wanting to prey on those who desperately need relief from student loans. Here are just a few signs to look for to avoid falling for these scams:
Promises of Immediate Relief from Your Student Loan
Scammers will try to assure you that you can get immediate relief from your student loans through a loan forgiveness program, for a price, that is. While there are various federal student loan forgiveness programs, none of them can provide relief instantly. You will still need to wait around five to ten years while working in a specific field before you can qualify.
Asking You to Pay Money Upfront
While some companies will offer to help with your loan forgiveness, it is illegal for them to charge you before actually helping. If you make the mistake of paying an upfront fee, they may not do any work at all, and you may end up losing even more money. It’s best to contact your loan servicer or to visit StudentAid.gov to get help with how to manage your loans or on how to apply for PSLF.
Asking for Sensitive Information
Some companies might ask for your Social Security number or other personal information through phone or email. Even if they claim that they need it to help you, never give out such sensitive information to anyone — legitimate agencies won’t ask for details over the phone or emails. Scammers will often use them to steal your identity and open bank accounts under your name.
Claiming to be Connected to a Government Agency
To look legitimate, scammers will often use logos from the U.S. Treasury Department or the Department of Education. They may also use names that sound official but they won’t be telling the truth. The Department of Education doesn’t authorize any organization to handle student loans apart from your loan servicer.
Using High-Pressure Sales Tactics
Scammers will always try to pressure you into making you hand over your payment information straight away. This is because the longer you take to decide, the more time you have to research their services. Be sure to take some time to read up about their company, and if they demand that you give them credit card information, they’re likely fraudulent.
Is Public Service Loan Forgiveness Real?
The short answer to this question is: Yes. PSLF is real but unlike what scammers might have you think, it is a process that will take a long time before you’re approved. The criteria are also very strict, and not many people will qualify. If you do, you can be sure that payments made after the 120th qualifying payment will be refunded, and that your loan will be forgiven.