Updated: Sep 16, 2019
Pointers on how to apply for the Public Service Loan Forgivness program.
In 2015 I graduated from graduate school with debt, dreams, and decisions. I knew where I was going to work, what I wanted to do, and I had to figure out how I would pay on my loans. During graduate school I worked in financial aid and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program was at the top of my list. After researching the program, I KNEW I was going to apply for it, but I was not expecting the long process ahead. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program is a great opportunity, but there is a lot that should be considered before applying. Here are some tips that may help you in your process of applying. I hope these can help make things easier in a fairy difficult process.
1. Know how much you owe If you owe anything less than $40,000 it may not be in your best interest to sign up for the program. This is a 10-year commitment, and anything less that $40K can be paid off in 10 years or less.
2.Know which loans you have Only certain loans qualify for the program. If you have a Stafford loan that was offered through the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program, your loan may not qualify. Many federal loans offered before July 1, 2010 were FFEL loans. Only DIRECT Stafford loans qualify. If you have some loans that are Stafford Loans (Perkins, Stafford Subsidized and Unsubsidized) you may need to consolidate your loans. Before I applied for the PSLF program I had to consolidate my loans. This was an extra step but it allowed me to qualify.
3. Talk to your loan servicer My loan servicer explained everything in detail. While it may be frustrating to call and possibly wait, it helps to answer a lot of questions when talking to the actual servicer. If you do not know who owns your loans you can find them through www.NSLDS.ed.gov. Log-in, click on one of your loans, and scroll down to the bottom to find your loan servicer.
4. Apply for an Income-Driven Repayment plan To qualify you MUST be in an Income-Driven Repayment plan. If you are not in an INCOME-DRIVEN repayment plan you are not eligible. The Standard repayment plan does not count.
5. Be sure your employer is an eligible employer On the second page of the Employment Certification Form there are questions your employer must answer. They must be considered a public serving business according to this page. If they are not they will not qualify. Those of you work for your own non-profit, you must have someone else complete the paperwork. You CANNOT complete your own paperwork. The individual completing your paperwork must be someone in Human Resources, or someone whose position is considered above yours (Manager, President, CEO, etc).
6. You must be full-time You must be working full-time to qualify for the program. Full-time is considered 30 hours per week, or number of hours your employer considers full-time, whichever is greater.
7. Re-Submit Employer Certification Form Every Year You MUST recertify your employer annually. If you don’t your payments will not qualify.
8. Deferment If your loans are on deferment, forbearance, or you are in school, your payments will not go towards the program. If you want your payment to go towards the program you must contact your loan servicer to have the deferment or forbearance removed.
I truly hope this information was helpful. The application process can be long, but if approved, it is worth-it. If you would like more information about the Public Service Loan forgiveness program please visit https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service#full-time-employment. Also, if you need more help with this, or other financial issues, please let me know!!