Loan Forgiveness Options

A number of state and federal programs enable you to have some or all of your student loans forgiven, often in return for performing a qualifying service, such as working in certain public service jobs, for a period of time. For example, New York residents may qualify for the Get On Your Feet Loan Forgiveness Program, which provides up to 24 months of federal student loan debt relief to recent New York State college graduates who are participating in a federal income-driven repayment plan. For more information on the Get On Your Feet Loan Forgiveness Program and other loan forgiveness programs, visit Loan Forgiveness Programs. For information on the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, see below.

A. Public Service Loan Forgiveness

  • The PSLF Program allows federal student loan borrowers who work for government or certain public interest organizations to receive forgiveness of the remaining balance on their federal Direct Loans after making 120 qualifying payments.
  • The program went into effect ten years ago, which means that the first borrowers will qualify for forgiveness under this program next month.
  • If you work for a government or public service organization, you may be eligible for PSLF. However, eligibility requirements can be confusing.

Who is Eligible for PSLF?

There are three parts of the eligibility test for PSLF. You must meet all three criteria:

  1. You must be employed full-time by an eligible public service employer;
  2. You must have an un-defaulted Direct federal loan; and
  3. You must be enrolled in a qualifying loan repayment plan.

If you think you may be eligible for PSLF, we encourage you to annually submit an Employer Certification for Public Service Loan Forgiveness Form to receive information concerning your eligibilty. The Form is available here. While the government’s response to your Employer Certification for Public Service Loan Forgiveness Form is not a final determination of eligibility, it may help identify problems. Read the response you receive carefully, making sure that it includes all your federal loans.

TEPSLF: Federal Student Loan Borrowers Turned Down for PSLF May Qualify for Loan Forgiveness Under A New, Temporary Program

Under a new, temporary expansion of the PSLF program, borrowers who were turned down for PSLF loan forgiveness because some or all of their repayments were made through a non-qualifying repayment plan can apply for reconsideration. For a limited time, the Department of Education will reconsider eligibility based on an expanded list of qualifying repayment plans.

This opportunity for reconsideration, which the Department of Education is referring to as “Temporary Expanded PSLF”, or “TEPSLF”, was made possible by a $350-million appropriation to the Department of Education from Congress. Eligible applicants will receive loan forgiveness on a first come, first serve basis. Borrowers are encouraged to apply for reconsideration right away, because once the $350 million is depleted, the opportunity to receive reconsideration will end.

Who is Eligible for Reconsideration under the Temporary Expansion of PSLF?

To qualify for loan forgiveness under the temporary expansion of the program, a borrower must have done the following:

  1. Submitted the Public Service Loan Forgiveness: Application for Forgiveness and had that application denied because some or all of the payments were not made under a qualifying repayment plan for PSLF;
  2. Worked at least 10 years of full-time employment with a qualifying employer, certified by the employer, and approved by the Department;
  3. Made 120 qualifying monthly payments under the requirements for the expanded program, which include the Graduated Repayment Plan, Extended Repayment Plan, Consolidated Standard Repayment Plan, and Consolidated Graduated Repayment Plan.

How to apply for Temporary Expansion of PSLF, or TEPSLF:

Borrowers who believe they may qualify for reconsideration should email a request for reconsideration to TEPSLF@MyFedLoan.org. The request should include your name (the same name under which you submitted your PSLF application) and your date of birth.

For more information on the Temporary Expansion of PSLF, visit student aid.

For more information about PSLF eligibility requirements, visit loan forgiveness options

Who is a public service employer for purposes of PSLF?

Public service employers for purposes of PSLF include:

  1. government organizations, including any federal, state, local, or tribal organization or agency and the armed forces;
  2. not-for-profit organizations with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status; and
  3. private not-for-profit organizations that are not 501(c)(3) organizations that provide certain types of public service as their primary purpose.

How can I find out if my employer is an eligible public service employer?

You can submit an Employer Certification for Public Service Loan Forgiveness
Form to find out whether your employer is a public service employer for purposes of PSLF.

Note that the Department of Education and FedLoans, the servicer that handles PSLF eligibility determinations, have, in a few cases, reversed eligibility determinations and found that certain non-501(c)(3)s organizations that were previously characterized as eligible public service employers are no longer considered eligible public service employers. If you are employed by a not-for-profit that is not a 501(c)(3), we recommend that you submit an Employer Certification Form to confirm that your employer is a public service employer for PSLF purposes, even if you submitted one earlier.

What type of loan do I have to have to be eligible for PSLF?

Only loans received under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program
(Direct Loans) are eligible for forgiveness under PSLF. Direct loans include Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Direct PLUS Loans, and Direct Consolidation Loans.

If you borrowed before July 1, 2010, some or all of your loans may have been made under a program called the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program. FFEL loans do not qualify for PSLF, but they may become eligible if you consolidate them into a Direct Consolidation Loan. FFEL loans include Federal Stafford Loans, Federal PLUS Loans, and some Federal Consolidation Loans. See the section below to find out how borrowers of FFEL loans can qualify for PSLF by consolidating their FFEL loan(s) into a Direct Consolidation Loan.

What can I do if I have a FFEL Loan instead of a Direct Loan?

If you have a FFEL rather than a Direct federal loan, you can consolidate your FFEL loan(s) into a Direct Consolidation Loan. If other PSLF eligibility requirements are met, your subsequent loan payments will count as qualifying PSLF payments. Payments made earlier will not count, so it is important that you act promptly to maximize the number of qualifying payments you make. Contact your loan servicer for information on how to consolidate your FFEL Loan into a Direct Loan.

If you have both Direct Loans and FFEL loans, keep in mind that if you consolidate your existing Direct Loans with the FFEL loans, you will lose credit for any qualifying PSLF payments you made on your Direct Loans before they were consolidated. To avoid this problem, leave your existing Direct Loans out of the consolidation and consolidate only your FFEL loans. (Note that “consolidating” does not necessarily require you to combine multiple loans – if you have a single FFEL loan, you can use the consolidation process to convert that FFEL loan into a Direct Loan.)

What if I don’t know what kind of loans I have?

You can find out what type of loans you have by logging into StudentAid.gov/login or by contacting your loan servicer.

What repayment plan should I choose to ensure that my payments are PSLF qualifying payments?

To qualify for forgiveness, you must make 120 separate monthly payments on the Direct Loans for which you are requesting forgiveness while enrolled in one of the following repayment plans:

  • Revised Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan (REPAYE Plan)
  • Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan (PAYE Plan)
  • Income-Based Repayment Plan (IBR Plan)
  • Income-Continent Repayment Plan (ICR Plan)
  • 10-year Standard Repayment Plan
  • Other Direct Loan repayment plans where payments are at least equal to the monthly payment amount that would have been required under the 10-year Standard Repayment Plan are counted toward the required 120 payments.

Caution: The PSLF Program provides for forgiveness of the remaining balance of your eligible loans after you have made 120 qualifying payments on those loans. If you make payments under the 10-year Standard Repayment Plan, you will not have any remaining balance after making 120 payments and so nothing will be forgiven. Likewise, if you enroll in a plan in which you are paying an amount equal to the monthly payment amount that would have been required under the 10-year Standard Plan, you will not have any remaining balance after making 120 payments

Loans on Graduated or Extended repayment plans are not eligible. However, you may change to one of the repayment plans listed above such as REPAYE, to be eligible. To change repayment plans, contact your loan servicer. If you don’t know who your Servicer is, visit student aid.

For more information on PSLF, see:

A. Protecting Yourself from Scams

  • Some scammers target student loan borrowers, promising that they can reduce or eliminate student loan debt.
  • These companies usually charge hundreds of dollars for their services. However, the debt relief programs used by the companies, such as loan consolidation and income-based repayment plans, are available to borrowers FOR FREE. For more information, click here for information on Repayment Options, and here for Loan Consolidation Information.
  • Even worse, some companies charge steep fees but fail to deliver on their promises to enroll borrowers in a debt relief program.
  • Warning signs – A debt relief company may be a scam if it:
    • Promises immediate loan forgiveness or debt cancellation;
    • Charges you fees before it actually does anything for you;
    • Pressures you to sign a contract on the spot;
    • Requires you to finance your fees through another company;
    • Charges recurring monthly fees;
    • Offers to contact your creditor to obtain a “special deal” in connection with a federal loan (debt relief companies do not have the ability to negotiate a “special deal” for federal loan repayment; repayment levels are set by law);
    • Pressures you to sign a “third party authorization” or “power of attorney”;
    • Requests your Federal Student Aid PIN;
    • Uses a name or logo that makes it seem as though the company is a government agency or is associated with a government agency; or
    • Tells you it is working with the federal government or a loan servicer. (No company working with the government or a loan servicer would charge you money to consolidate loans or to enroll in an alternative repayment plan.)

If you think you have been the victim of a student loan scammer, you can file a complaint with our office or call 1-800-771-7755.<

B. Resources:

Each of the online resources below provides helpful information on managing your student loans:

U.S. Department of Education Information on Student Loans

Consumer Financial Protection Board Information on Loan Repayment

HESC’s Online Information on Student Loans

NCLC’s Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project