The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, created in 2007, is a federal program to help relieve student loan debt for people who work full-time in public service. Since the program’s inception, however, it has been plagued with problems that have prevented applicants from getting relief. In 2017, the first wave of applicants became eligible for loan forgiveness. However, the Department of Education rejected many applicants because of ambiguous technicalities in the program’s rules.
In response to unclear rules and high denial rates, Congress enacted legislation in 2019 to help solve the problem. Later, the CARES act expanded Congress’s intervention by creating the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Limited Waiver, giving applicants more power and flexibility in getting their student loans forgiven.
This article will explain the PSLF program, how the PSLF Limited Waiver works, and how you can take advantage of this program before it expires.
How the PSLF Loan Forgiveness Program Works
The PSLF program wipes out the remaining balance on your federal Direct Loans after you have made 120 certified monthly payments. All the payments must be made under an authorized repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer.
To earn this student loan forgiveness, you must work for a government organization, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, or any qualified not-for-profit organization that provides public services. You also must make your payments through an income-driven repayment plan.
While the PSLF program is excellent for all kinds of public service workers, it can be especially beneficial for nurses who work for health departments, federal agencies, and non-profit hospitals.
What the PSLF Limited Waiver Does
The PSLF Limited Waiver makes it easier for PSLF applicants to get credit toward relief. The program cuts through bureaucracy by removing certain restrictions that have prevented many borrowers from getting their loans forgiven in the past. Some of the vital measures implemented by the program include:
- Applicants may be eligible for credit towards PSLF for past periods of loan repayment that wouldn’t otherwise qualify
- Past periods of repayment count regardless of the repayment plan, payment timeliness, or whether the borrower paid the total amount due
- Borrowers under forbearance who went without making a payment for 12 consecutive months or more, or 36 cumulative months or more, will be considered under the waiver
- The waiver applies to any months spent in deferment before 2013 as well as any financial hardship deferment after January 1st, 2013
Leveraging the PSLF Limited Waiver, borrowers can increase their total number of qualifying monthly payments. They can also include periods of employment that didn’t count under the original PSLF rules. Borrowers may also get forgiveness for certain non-qualifying loan types by consolidating them into federal Direct Loans.
Eligibility for the PSLF Limited Waiver
Although the PSLF Limited Waiver removes many barriers to forgiveness under the PSLF program, there are still many requirements that you’ll have to meet if you want to qualify:
- You still must work for a qualifying employer during the repayment period
- All of your employers you have worked for during the repayment period must certify your employment
- You must have a federal Direct Loan
- You must have credit for 120 qualifying monthly payments
If you don’t have a federal Direct Loan, you’ll need to make sure you consolidate your loans by October 31st, 2022. Some examples of loans that applicants will need to consolidate are Perkins loans or Family Federal Education Loan (FFEL) loans. If you’re not sure what kind of loans you have, contact your loan servicer.
How to Apply for the PSLF Limited Waiver
To apply for the PSLF Limited Waiver, you’ll need to fill out a PSLF form to start the process of certifying your periods of employment. The Department of Education will evaluate your employment history. During the evaluation, they will determine if any of your payments qualify under the Limited Waiver program. You don’t need to request the PSLF Limited Waiver.
If you’re still unsure whether you’re eligible for forgiveness under the PSLF Limited Waiver, you can start by searching for your employer in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Employer Search tool. Your loan servicer is also an invaluable resource in guiding you through the PSLF process.
“The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Limited Waiver provides extreme flexibility to the program,” explains Kyle Gallagher of GradFin. “If you have Federal Student loans and have been an employee at an eligible employer for ten years, there is a high probability we can get the loans forgiven. The borrowers have to get paperwork completed before 10/31/22.”
Unfortunately, the clock is running out on the PSLF Limited Waiver. Contact your loan servicer today and gather the necessary documentation to apply for the waiver. Don’t wait to start the process if you think you might be eligible for the PSLF Limited Waiver. The sooner you begin, the sooner you can get much-needed relief for your student loan debt.
Kyle Gallagher works with individuals all across the country and is available via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (305-975-5182).