Public Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is amazing in theory. But in practice, the process is convoluted and confusing. The Department of Education has made applying and getting approved for PSLF very confusing. According to the Department of Education’s June 2019 PSLF Report, only 1,216 people were granted forgiveness out of over 100,835 applicants.
What’s more, amendments and changes in the past two years have opened up opportunities for more federal student loan borrowers to save. Still, understanding who qualifies and how to apply is tricky.
Read on to learn more about the PSLF waiver, if you qualify for it, and how to apply before the October 31, 2022, deadline.
What is PSLF?
The Department of Education’s PSLF program launched in 2007, promising federal student loan borrowers loan forgiveness in exchange for a decade of service in specific public sector jobs.
PSLF promises that Direct Loan borrowers who make 120 qualifying monthly (10 years) payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer will have the remainder of their balance forgiven.
The comprehensive policy held promise for many federal student loan borrowers, but the complicated application and qualification process meant the forgiveness was mainly unused. An abysmal rate of approval for PSLF left many borrowers disheartened.
One challenge of qualifying for PSLF came from employers. Applicants were unsure if their employer qualified them for PSLF. As a result, Federal Student Aid launched its Employment Certification Form (ECF) and database in 2012. Here, borrowers can submit their employment information to verify their PSLF qualifications.
Similarly, in 2018, Federal Student Aid introduced the PSLF Help Tool to help borrowers assess PSLF eligibility and assist in the application process.
These tools have provided some help for potential PSLF applicants, but the benefits of PSLF are still largely unrecognized. But that has the potential to change with the PSLF waiver.
What is the PSLF Waiver?
In October 2021, the Department of Education announced an overhaul to the PSLF program to “restore the promise of PSLF.” These changes were not only due to the unrealized potential of PSLF, but in an attempt to provide borrowers financial relief in the wake of COVID-19.
This overhaul includes the Limited PSLF Waiver. The PSLF Waiver offers borrowers a temporary opportunity to get credit for previous student loan payments that didn’t previously qualify for PSLF. However, note the word “temporary,” this waiver is only good until October 31, 2022, meaning borrowers are running out of time to apply.
Details of the PSLF Waiver
Simply put, the PSLF waiver retroactively credits federal student loan borrowers for previous payments that traditionally did not qualify for PSLF.
Traditionally, to qualify for PSLF, you’d need to:
- Be a Direct Loan borrower
- Make all 120 qualifying payments on time (within 15 days past due), in full
- Work in a PSLF program-qualifying job
The waiver temporarily waves a few of the above criteria, including:
- Federal student loan payments that were unpaid, late, or not paid in full
- Student loan payments that were not applied to a Direct Loan
- Any federal student loan payment made after October 1, 2007
Previously, these payments would have disqualified a borrower from PSLF. Now, if borrowers meet the qualifications and are approved, they may find their student loans forgiven in full.
These loosened restrictions to make PSLF easier, but not for long. Borrowed must meet the qualifications of the limited PSLF waiver and apply before October 21, 2022.
How to Make Sense of the PSLF Waiver
While the PSLF waiver temporarily changes what federal student payments count towards PSLF, it still includes some of the stipulations of the original PSLF program.
Qualifications for PSLF, even under the limited waiver, include:
- Employment certified under the PSLF program
- Direct Loan holders
If you don’t have one or both of the following right now, that doesn’t count you out just yet. Here’s where you can get more information on how to get approved for the PSLF waiver.
Over 26% of denied PSLF applications are due to missing information. With automatic analysis and bank-level encryption, the Chipper app is the secure, convenient way to discover eligibility and ensure your application meets the requirements. Apply for the PSLF waiver with confidence for free.
What if I have a Different Federal Student Loan?
If you have a FEEL Program loan, Perkins Loan, or some other form of federal student loan that’s not a Direct Loan, you’ll need to consolidate the loan (or loans) into a Direct Loan.
Complete a Direct Consolidation Loan application by October 31, 2022.
However, remember that consolidating your federal student loans can have a few drawbacks, including missing out on the benefits of your current loan. You may also end up with a longer payment period or higher interest. However, if consolidation into a Direct Loan gets you closer to PSLF, it may be worth it.
What if I Have a Direct Loan, But My Employer Isn’t PSLF Approved?
- Employment was previously denied
- Approval was for some, but not all of your employment history
You’ll need to submit a PSLF form for approval. First, look up your employer using the PSLF employer search. You’ll need the employer’s EIN and your dates of employment with them. If the query returns that the employer is “likely ineligible,” consider sending in a PSLF form anyway, as the employer’s uncertain status doesn’t necessarily mean rejection.
Once you’ve determined if your employer is PSLF eligible, fill out the PSLF form. The form will be submitted to MOHELA, the official servicer of federal student aid.
What if I Have a Direct Loan and I’ve Submitted a PSLF Form?
If you have a Direct Loan and you’ve already submitted a PSLF form, you should be on track to qualify for the limited PSLF waiver.
If you submitted a PSLF previously but didn’t receive credit based on payment history, you may now qualify under the limited PSLF waiver.
The limited PSLF waiver makes it easier for those working an approved job to qualify for PSLF, but it still leaves many borrowers out of the equation. If you don’t qualify for the waiver but are looking for ways to pay your student loans down faster, consider Chipper, the all-in-one student loan app connected directly to loan servicers that helps you discover ideal repayment options and avoid interest.
Student Loan Forgiveness with a Limited-Time Offer
The limited PSLF waiver provides more federal student loan borrowers with an opportunity to qualify for student loan forgiveness. However, the process isn’t straightforward; there are reports of servicers misleading consumers and confusing directions for the Department of Education. The closer we get to the deadline, the harder it’s been to get in contact with servicers.
However, just because the process is confusing doesn’t mean it's not achievable. Review your student loan history, get the proper approvals, and consider applying for the waiver before the October 31, 2022, deadline. Even if you’re unsure of your qualifications, it may be worth applying for this limited-time benefit.
Limited waiver or not, student loans are confusing. You don’t have to navigate this system on your own. That’s where Chipper comes in. Chipper can determine if you qualify for student loan forgiveness, help you find a lower repayment plan, and offer tools to pay down your loan faster.
Start making sense of your student loans today with Chipper.