Created under the College Cost Reduction Act of 2007, Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) forgives the remaining balance tax-free on Direct Loans after 120 qualifying monthly payments have been made under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer.
On Oct. 6, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced a temporary period during which borrowers may receive credit for payments that previously did not qualify for PSLF, but it expired on October 31, 2022.
See below for more information on how best to navigate and benefit from PSLF.
- Eligible Loans
- Qualifying Monthly Payments
- Qualifying Repayment Plans
- Full-time Qualification
- Qualifying Employers
- Any loan received under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program
- Borrowers may consolidate other federal loans (FFEL and/or Perkins) into the Direct Loan Program in order to qualify
Review your federal loan types by logging into StudentAid.gov. Look for ‘Direct’ or ‘FFEL’ or “Perkins’ within the name of the loan to identify those loans that qualify and/or will need to be consolidated in order to qualify.
Private student loans from private lenders do not qualify for PSLF and private loans can’t be consolidated into a Federal Direct Loan. To learn what options are available for your private loans, you’ll need to consult the lender who holds your private loan.
Payments must be made:
- After October 1, 2007
- For the full amount due as shown on the bill
- No later than 15 days after the due date
- While employed full-time by a qualifying employer
120 monthly payments are required.
- Only payments made on a qualifying repayment plan count
- Lump sum payments are allowed
- Can only be made up to one year at a time
- Months spent in the current payment suspension (COVID forbearance) count as qualifying payments as long as employment and loan requirements are met
Borrowers whose loans are paid by AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, or the U.S. Department of Defense have special rules that allow these payments to count towards this forgiveness
If you believe you’ve already successfully made 120 or more PSLF-qualifying payments, you should still apply for forgiveness using the PSLF Help Tool.
- Standard 10-year repayment
- All Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plans:
Monthly payments determined by income and family size. Payments capped at 10-15% of discretionary income for most plans. Remaining balance forgiven after 20-25 years (for nonPSLF participation)
- Income-Based Repayment (IBR)
- Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)
- Pay As You Earn (PAYE)
- Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)
Borrowers must work full-time to qualify.
- Must meet your employer’s definition of full-time or work 30 hours per week, whichever is greater.
- If employed in more than one qualifying part-time job at the same time, you will be considered full-time if you work a combined average of at least 30 hours per week.
It’s not about your specific job title; it’s about who your employer is.
- Federal, state, local, or tribal government
- All UW System employees (including UW-Madison) can review information online – https://uwservice.wisconsin.edu/loan-forgiveness.
- Not-for-profit organization that is tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code
- AmeriCorps or Peace Corps
- Private not-for-profit organizations that provide at least one of the following public services:
- Emergency management
- Military service
- Public safety
- Law enforcement
- Public interest law services
- Early childhood education
- For individuals with disabilities and the elderly
- Public health
- Public education
- Public library services
- School library or other school-based services
1099/Independent Contractors do not qualify for PSLF.
Use the Federal Student Aid PSLF Help Tool to determine if you work for an eligible employer – make sure you have your employer’s EIN (Employer Identification Number).
How to Make Progress Towards PSLF
- Make sure to have available your,
- FSA ID/password
- Employer’s Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)
- Then, start at studentaid.gov to review your federal student loans to confirm if they’re eligible for PSLF.
- If your loans including ‘FFEL’ or ‘Perkins’ – you’ll first need to consolidate (see below).
- If all loans are ‘Direct’ – move on to the next step!
- Log in to the PSLF Help Tool to start the process and generate the form you’ll need.
- Your employer will be required to complete a portion of this generated form and the sign it.
- Follow the instructions on the form for how to submit the completed form.
- Not already on an Income Driven Repayment Plan? Make sure you apply for an IDR plan to fully benefit from PSFL!
- During the student loan COVID-19 payment pause, all federal student loans are in forbearance and do not require that you make payments.
- However, you can still receive credit toward PSLF during this payment pause – even though payments are not being made and are not required.
Remaining in Good Standing
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Continue to Meet ALL Requirements
- Work full-time at a qualifying employer while making progress towards forgiveness AND until your loans are forgiven.
- Make qualifying payments on Federal Direct loans.
Recertify Your Income Each Year
- Your servicer will reach out each year to ask you to recertify your income.
- And it’s easily done online – Recertify online!
Document Your Employment History
- Continue to document your employment history over the 10 years.
- At a minimum, document your qualifying employment annually by using the PSLF Help Tool and submitting the generated form.
- If you leave a job, use the PSLF Help Tool to document the change. If you start a new job, use the same tool to note the correct end/start dates.