by Dan Kirslis, CFP®, Chicory Wealth Financial Advisor
At the beginning of October, the Department of Education announced big changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. If you are someone who works in public service (for instance, for the government or a non-profit), but thought that you were ineligible for loan forgiveness, you may now qualify.
The original promise of the PSLF program, rolled out under the Obama administration, was that students who went on to work in public service could have their loans forgiven after ten years of public service work. However, ten years later, under Betsy DeVos’ Department of Education, most people who applied for PSLF were denied for a wide variety of technical reasons, most of which had to do with either being on the wrong repayment plan or having the wrong loan type. Borrowers who had FFEL loans or who weren’t on the right income-driven repayment plan found that their ten years of service would not help them achieve the loan forgiveness they had been promised, even as large tax-cuts for the wealthy were being passed. The requirements for forgiveness were very complicated, and for many borrowers, they would have to reset the clock on their forgiveness countdown in order to qualify, effectively making the program useless.
The Biden administration has now made changes to the program that have drastically simplified the criteria for forgiveness. Now, anyone who 1) has federal loans and 2) has been making payments on them (including $0 payments since the COVID-related freeze on payments) while employed by a governmental or non-profit 501c(3) will qualify after ten years’ worth of payments. The application can be found here: https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/pslf-limited-waiver
Though this still leaves out borrowers who refinanced to private loans, it dramatically expands the pool of people eligible for loan forgiveness. Even better, for now-eligible applicants who have made more than ten years’ worth of payments, the federal government will refund the ‘extra’ payments once forgiveness is granted. However, there is a time limit to this program — eligible borrowers need to act before October 31, 2022. If you have federal loans and work in public service, visit the link above today to find out about the PSLF limited waiver opportunity. If you have questions about your eligibility or the forgiveness process, reach out to me at [email protected] or ask your advisor.