How Long Does PSLF Take to Process? 6 Months or More

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Updated on September 16, 2023

PSLF processing takes several months, and total time to loan forgiveness is at least ten years, requiring 120 qualifying payments. Timelines can vary based on individual circumstances. In some cases, it could even take longer.

While the official word from the Department of Education suggests a processing time of at least 90 business days by MOHELA, the PSLF servicer, experiences reported by borrowers range from a few weeks to over six months.

Ahead, we’ll dive deeper into the PSLF application timeline and factors that contribute to the time for Public Service Loan Forgiveness to be approved.

The PSLF Application Process

If you’re about to take the plunge and apply for the PSLF Program for the first time, breathe easy—we’ve got your back. Below is a straightforward, step-by-step guide to help you get through the application process with ease.

  • Check Your Eligibility: Before you even pick up a pen or hit that keyboard, make sure you’re eligible. You need to have Direct Loans and be working full-time for a qualifying employer—this could be a government agency or certain non-profit organizations. Also, make sure you’re paying under an income-driven repayment plan.

  • Use the PSLF Help Tool: Head over to the Federal Student Aid website and find the PSLF Help Tool. This feature will guide you through the eligibility criteria and help you navigate the application process.

  • Complete the PSLF Form: Fill out the PSLF application form with your personal details, including your name, Social Security number, and contact information. Here, you’ll also declare why you’re submitting the form—whether it’s to check your qualifying payment count or to apply for loan forgiveness.

  • Get Your Employer’s Approval: The next section of the form will ask for your employer’s details, such as their name, address, and Federal Identification Number. An authorized official from your workplace will need to fill out, sign, and date this part.

  • Submit the Form: Once you’ve completed the form, you can submit it electronically via the PSLF Help Tool or mail it in. The choice is yours.

  • Keep Tabs on Your Progress: Make it a habit to submit a new PSLF form every year or whenever you change employers. This keeps your application up-to-date and helps ensure that your payments are counting toward forgiveness.

By the time you hit that 120th payment while working for a qualifying employer, you’ll be eligible for PSLF.

Note: If you recently consolidated Perkins Loans or Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) into a Direct Consolidation Loan, you’ll likely have to wait a few months longer to have your total PSLF eligibility determined.

Related: Full Sail Student Loan Forgiveness

Average Wait Time for PSLF: What to Expect

The average processing time for PSLF applicants can vary, but borrowers should generally expect a wait of up to six months. Factors like application volume and loan servicer transfers can affect this timeline.

First off, take a deep breath—you’ve done your part. If you submitted your PSLF application forms by the October 31 deadline, rest easy. You’ve set the wheels in motion toward potential loan forgiveness.

By meeting this deadline, you’ve put yourself in a strong position to benefit from the Limited PSLF Waiver. Approval means significantly reduced loan burdens, so hold tight—your financial freedom may be just around the corner.

Must-Know Factors in the PSLF Journey

We know waiting for PSLF approval can feel like an emotional rollercoaster. Understanding the ‘why’ behind the delays may offer some comfort.

  1. High Application Volumes: With many borrowers reaching the 120-payment milestone, the system is getting jam-packed. It’s like waiting in a long queue at your favorite brunch spot—everyone wants a piece of the freedom pie.

  2. Loan Transfers to MOHELA: If your loans were initially with another servicer like FedLoan Servicing, for example, the transfer to MOHELA can add extra waiting days. Think of it as switching airlines during a layover—you’re still going to your destination, just not as directly as you’d like.

  3. Missing or Incomplete Information: Incomplete forms can send your application back to the starting line. Just ask Reddit user kocodarlings, who saw their “pending review” status mysteriously change to “duplicate.”

  4. Employer Eligibility Reviews: If your employer hasn’t been pre-approved for PSLF, you might find yourself in an additional waiting loop.

Fast-Track Your PSLF Application: Pro Tips

  • Stay Informed: Keep an eye on your MOHELA account or your most recent loan statement to track your remaining balance.

  • Clear the Air: Got questions or concerns? Don’t hesitate to contact MOHELA at 1-855-265-4038.

  • Escalate If Needed: Not getting the answers you need? The Federal Student Aid Ombudsman Group can be your last resort. You also have the option to reach out to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) or your local representatives for additional support.

Key Points to Consider During the PSLF Process

  • Taking Proactive Steps: If your PSLF waiting period extends beyond 30 days, consider filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Reddit user Hyperion1144 suggests this as a way to take control when life decisions—from taxes to job changes—are in limbo.

  • The Emotional Payoff: While the wait can be grueling, the result is often transformative. Reddit user gldngrlee describes achieving loan forgiveness as a life-altering event. So hold on, double-check your forms, and file a complaint if necessary. Your financial freedom is on the horizon.

  • Understanding MOHELA’s Role: Curious about who’s handling your PSLF application? MOHELA is the loan servicer commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education to navigate you through the PSLF process—from the moment you apply to the joyous occasion of loan forgiveness.

Post-Submission: What Comes Next in PSLF?

After you’ve submitted your PSLF application, the clock starts ticking. Officially, MOHELA estimates a 90-business-day window for processing. But let’s level with each other: the actual waiting period can stretch from a quick two to three months to an agonizing six months. Why the delays? Here’s what’s gumming up the works:

  • Backlog of Applications: Yep, you’re not the only one in line. The backlog can significantly slow down the approval process.

  • Limited PSLF Waiver Aftermath: Remember when the Limited PSLF Waiver expanded eligibility rules? It was a blessing but also a curse, creating a tidal wave of applications and adding to the existing backlog.

  • Miscellaneous Factors: Missing information on your form or high volumes of employer reviews can also add days, if not weeks, to your waiting time.

The Limited PSLF Waiver: Blessing or Curse?

The Limited PSLF Waiver was a lifeline for many, temporarily changing the PSLF rules to include past repayments that wouldn’t usually qualify. It ended on October 31, 2022, but its impact lingers on, contributing to MOHELA’s backlog. So if you applied during this period, brace yourself for a potentially longer wait.

Related: How Do I Apply for Student Loan Forgiveness After 25 Years

Tackling the PSLF Application Backlog

While MOHELA hasn’t provided explicit details on the backlog, it’s evident that one exists, adding to the processing delays. The influx of applications during the Limited PSLF Waiver, along with routine challenges like loan transfers, has put MOHELA’s processing capabilities to the test.

The difficulties MOHELA faces are multifaceted:

  1. Volume: MOHELA has to sift through tens of thousands of application scans. While some can be processed through software, others require manual review.

  2. Staffing: The organization had to rapidly onboard and train several hundred new employees to handle a complex program riddled with intricacies that confound even legal experts.

  3. Regulatory Hurdles: MOHELA depends on the Education Department’s review to apply credits to borrowers under the Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Waiver.

These challenges collectively contribute to the sluggish pace of the PSLF application process.

The Final Steps: Confirming Approval and Loan Forgiveness

To confirm your PSLF application’s approval, watch for a notification from MOHELA or track your status in real-time on or MOHELA’s website. Once approved, say goodbye to your remaining Direct Loans—they’re forgiven and not considered taxable income.

The Waiting Game for Confirmation: How Long Does It Take?

The timeline for your Public Service Loan Forgiveness approval and actual loan discharge can differ significantly. While some borrowers may receive approval within 60 business days or even 90 calendar days, others might wait up to six months.

Various factors contribute to these differing timelines:

  1. First-Time Applicants: If you’re submitting a PSLF application for the first time, MOHELA may need extra time to verify your employment history, extending the wait.

  2. Employer Identification: If your employer’s identification number isn’t listed in the PSLF Help Tool, it triggers a manual review, adding to the processing time.

  3. Form Errors: Delays can also occur due to minor issues like a missed signature, requiring more time for corrections.

The Moment of Truth: When Loans Get Forgiven

Well, this largely depends on how long MOHELA takes to process your application. The official timeline suggests at least 90 business days, but prepare yourself for the possibility of a longer wait, even stretching to six months.

Related: Discover Student Loan Forgiveness

Your PSLF Cheat Sheet: Essentials to Know

  • Biden’s Influence on PSLF: The Biden administration has proposed several changes to the PSLF program, although Congress has yet to pass significant reforms. The federal government’s focus has been on streamlining the application process and expanding eligibility criteria for student loan borrowers.

  • Deferment and Forbearance: Deferment and forbearance are options that allow you to temporarily pause your loan payments. While these periods won’t count towards your 120 qualifying PSLF payments after the IDR Waiver ends, they can provide financial relief in challenging times.

  • Loan Types and Balances: Various types of federal direct loans are eligible for PSLF. Keeping track of your loan balance and making on-time payments are critical steps in your journey toward loan forgiveness. PLUS loans, for instance, are also eligible for PSLF provided you meet other criteria.

  • FSA and TEPSLF: The Federal Student Aid (FSA) office is a helpful resource for all things related to federal student loans, including PSLF. The Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF) program offers another avenue for borrowers who might not qualify for standard PSLF.

  • Additional Tips: Some states, like New York, offer state-specific student loan repayment and forgiveness programs that can supplement PSLF. While these programs aren’t directly connected to PSLF, they can offer additional avenues for debt relief, especially for those working in for-profit sectors.

Bottom Line

Anxious about speeding up your approval for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and ensuring your loans are forgiven? You’re not alone, and there’s help available. Book a call with our team today to craft a personalized student loan strategy that aims for faster forgiveness and peace of mind. Take the first step toward securing your financial freedom now.

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What does it mean if my PSLF has been processed?

When your PSLF status is 'processed,' it means MOHELA has reviewed your application and applied credits under original PSLF rules or waivers. Check's PSLF tracker for your qualifying payment credit.

How do I know if my PSLF has been processed?

To track your PSLF status, log into or check MOHELA's website. You can also contact MOHELA at 1-855-265-4038. Be patient, as high submission volumes may cause delays.

How long does it take for MOHELA to respond to PSLF?

MOHELA takes up to 14 days to acknowledge receipt of your PSLF form and at least 90 business days to process it. Factors like loan transfers and application volume can extend this period.

How long for MOHELA to process PSLF?

MOHELA acknowledges PSLF form receipt within 14 days and processes forms in at least 90 business days. Various factors, such as loan transfers and application volume, may extend these times.

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