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Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program: Quick Overview

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The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program is offered to public service employees. If you work full-time for a government or not-for-profit organization, you may qualify for forgiveness of the entire remaining balance of your Direct Loans after you’ve made 120 qualifying payments—that is, 10 years of payments. Loan forgiveness is the cancellation of a loan debt under various loan forgiveness programs.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

The PSLF Program was established to encourage individuals to enter and continue in full-time public service employment by forgiving the remaining balance of their William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program loans (Direct Loans). The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program discharges any remaining debt after 10 years of full-time employment in public service. The borrower must have made 120 payments as part of the Direct Loan program in order to obtain this benefit.

How to Qualify and Eligibility Requirements

There are specific requirements you must meet in order to qualify for the program.

Job Performed

The specific job that you perform does not matter, as long as you are employed by an eligible public service organization. For example, if you are a full-time employee of a public school system, your employment would meet the requirements for PSLF, regardless of your position (teacher, administrator, support staff, etc.).

Length of employment

You must be employed full-time by a public service organization when you make each of the required 120 qualifying payments on your Direct Loans, at the time you apply for loan forgiveness after making the last of those 120 payments, and at the time you receive loan forgiveness.

Employment

Qualifying employment is any employment with a federal, state, or local government agency, entity, or organization or a not-for-profit organization that has been designated as tax-exempt by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). The type or nature of employment with the organization does not matter for PSLF purposes. Additionally, the type of services that these public service organizations provide does not matter for PSLF purposes.

Employment in private not-for-profit

A private not-for-profit employer that is not a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the IRC may be a qualifying public service organization if it provides certain specified public services. These services include emergency management, military service, public safety, or law enforcement services; public health services; public education or public library services; school library and other school-based services; public interest law services; early childhood education; public service for individuals with disabilities and the elderly. The organization must not be a labor union or a partisan political organization.

Income Level Eligibility

Your income is a factor in determining your required monthly payment amount under the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Plan, Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan, and the Income Contingent Repayment (ICR) Plan, the three PSLF-eligible repayment plans that are the most likely to leave you with a remaining loan balance to be forgiven after you have made 120 qualifying payments.

Only Direct Loans Can Be Forgiven

Only loans you received under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program are eligible for PSLF. Loans you received under the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program, the Federal Perkins Loan (Perkins Loan) Program, or any other student loan program are not eligible for PSLF.

Learn more about PSFL on StudentAid.gov.

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